Five months after the insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, hundreds of accused rioters are facing criminal charges and making court appearances. The Associated Press reported yesterday on one of the many defendants:
A Des Moines, Iowa, man pictured prominently with a QAnon shirt ahead of a crowd of insurgents inside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack asked a judge on Monday to release him from jail, saying "he feels deceived, recognizing that he bought into a pack of lies."
This is not the first report we've seen along these lines. In this case, Douglas Jensen, according to a court filing from his attorney, didn't mean to harm anyone. As the story goes, he simply went to D.C. at Donald Trump's urging, carried a "work pocketknife," and entered the Capitol because he wanted to watch the developments as they unfolded.
Jensen claims he is "a victim of numerous conspiracy theories that were being fed to him over the internet by a number of very clever people, who were uniquely equipped with slight, if any, moral or social consciousness."
Time will tell whether courts find defenses like these persuasive, but there's a larger context to keep in mind: the more Jan. 6 defendants say they were victims of a scam, the more obvious the need for an independent investigation into those who did the scamming.
Senate Republicans, of course, recently derailed a bipartisan proposal for an independent commission to investigate the insurrectionist assault. The Hill reported this morning that some Democrats want to give this another try.
As party leaders chew over their options, a number of rank-and-file members say their preferred choice is for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring the commission vote to the floor for a second time.
Whether the recent vote was close is a matter of perspective. Proponents of the bipartisan deal needed 60 votes to overcome a Republican filibuster in the Senate but ended up with 54. A handful of "yes" votes weren't on the floor at the time, though both parties agree that to advance the compromise measure, Democrats would need to find at least three more GOP votes.
That's probably not realistic. The Hill report added, "Privately, some Senate Democrats say holding a second vote won't lead to passage." One Senate Dem specifically said, "The outcome won't change."
Watch this space.
Postscript: This coincides with the release of a new Senate report that concludes that U.S. Capitol Police failed to act on documented threats, as part of a profound intelligence and security failure. The Senate's findings reportedly had to be watered down to get Republican support at the committee level.