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Judge calls Donald Trump a 'charlatan' and says 'democracy is in trouble' after trial of January 6 defendant

Business Insider logo Business Insider 4/14/2022 cdavis@insider.com (Charles R. Davis)
Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images © Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images
  • US District Court Judge Reggie Walton said Donald Trump is a threat to democracy.
  • Walton made the comments Thursday following the conviction of a January 6 defendant.
  • Walton was appointed by former President George W. Bush.

A federal judge on Thursday called Donald Trump a threat to democracy, accusing the former president of instigating a mob of "weak-minded" followers to attack the US Capitol on January 6, Politico reported.

"I think our democracy is in trouble," US District Judge Reggie Walton said, "because, unfortunately, we have charlatans like our former president who doesn't, in my view, really care about democracy but only about power."

Walton, who was appointed to the DC Circuit by former President George W. Bush, lashed out at Trump after the jury trial of a January 6 insurrectionist.


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Dustin Thompson, 38, was convicted of obstructing Congress as it tried to certify President Joe Biden's victory — a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. According to prosecutors, he walked to the US Capitol after Trump implored his supporters to "fight like hell," breaking into the Senate parliamentarian's office and stealing a bottle of liquor.

Testifying Wednesday, Thompson said he felt that he was merely following "presidential orders" that day.

His attorney, in closing arguments on Thursday, likewise blamed Trump.

"You had, frankly, a gangster who was in power," defense lawyer Samuel Shamansky told the jury. "The vulnerable are seduced by the strong," he argued. "That's what happened."

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