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Some alleged Capitol rioters are blaming 'mob mentality' for their role on Jan. 6

Capitol Breach The Road to Riot
Posted at 12:26 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 14:26:34-04

Some of those accused of smashing through police barriers and storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are now saying their part in the riot wasn't their fault.

At least a dozen Capitol riot defendants identified by the Associated Press say their presence among the mob was an accident; that they were "caught up" and pushed inside by force, not as supporters of the fight.

The defense is partly a tactic for some to restore reputations after being part of the event, while others are trying to defend themselves at trial or for sentencing.

More than 400 people have been charged in connection to the riot — the largest prosecution in the Justice Department's history. Federal prosecutors are expecting to charge at least 100 more.

One man, who was accused of helping break a glass door to the House chamber, said he never planned to storm the building.

Another said he was overwhelmed by a moment sparked by then-President Donald Trump.

"He would never have anticipated finding himself in the situation, but for the president and the rally and the way everything went down," the suspect's lawyer said. "We’ve heard ‘mob mentality’ — and he describes it to a T."

That's what many are saying — that participants acted in ways they wouldn't have naturally, but the crowd of like-minded people changed their ways. But that defense of outside influences and a blame-the-crowd point of view is typically rejected in court.

While plea negotiations are underway in some cases, the amount of evidence — including that from other rioters themselves — is making it hard for many to cut deals with prosecutors for lighter punishments.

This story was originally published by Alex Arger for Newsy.