The trial’s opening arguments featured dueling views over the social media posts of an accused Capitol rioter.
A lawyer for Thomas Robertson suggested to jurors that his online bravado was just “for the gram”.
Prosecutors uncovered texts in which Robertson appeared to talk about the destruction of his phone.
Standing next to a fellow police officer flashing his middle finger, Thomas Robertson posed for a photo inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as hordes of Trump supporters stormed the building.
It was an image, Robertson later said on social media, of “2 men ready to put their skin in the game and stand up for their rights.”
“I’m fucking PROUD of it,” he wrote in an Instagram post shared to Facebook.
The photograph will soon feature prominently in court documents accusing Robertson, then a police officer in Rocky Mount, Va., of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. But as he stood trial on those charges on Tuesday, his defense attorney urged jurors to disregard Robertson’s prideful social media posts.
“Let’s be honest here: social media is not reality,” Robertson’s defense attorney, Camille Wagner, said during the trial’s opening arguments. third trial related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. In an Instagram reference, Wagner suggested that Robertson’s online bravado was just a show “for the gram.”
In the year since the Capitol attack, many of the more than 770 alleged participants have been harassed by their own January 6 social media posts, messages and materials.
Wagner’s argument was recalls a tusk that Guy Reffitt raised in the first Jan. 6-related trial: That his inflammatory messages about the Capitol attack amounted to “hyperbole” that did not accurately reflect his conduct.
The jury in that trial found Reffitt, a member of the far-right group Three Percenters, guilty on all five counts faced, including obstruction of due process. Reffitt’s sentencing is set for June 8.
Wagner’s argument contrasted sharply Tuesday with the Justice Department’s take on Robertson’s social media posts.
In an opening argument, prosecutor Elizabeth Aloi pointed to Robertson’s posts, including one that read: “A government scared of its people. The photos of them huddled on the ground crying are the most American thing that I’ve ever seen.”
The FBI arrested Robertson in January 2021, a week after the attack on the Capitol, for violent entry and trespassing on restricted grounds. Robertson now faces six charges, including disorderly conduct and obstruction of official process.
Robertton was also charged with destroying one or more cell phones to interfere with the criminal investigation into the January 6 uprising.
Aloi presented text messages in which Robertson appeared to brag about destroying his phone.
“Anything that could have been a problem is destroyed,” he wrote in a text.
“I swam in a lake,” Robertson said in another post, per Aloi’s submission.
“They asked for my phone but I’m not retarded,” Robertson wrote in another post.
The off-duty police officer who joined Robertson at the Capitol, Jacob Fracker, was also charged in the days following Jan. 6. The Rocky Mount Police Department later fired the men.
In March, just weeks before the trial, Fracker pleaded guilty in March to conspiring to obstruct the joint session of Congress that met on January 6 to certify the victory of current President Joe Biden in the 2020 elections.
Fracker agreed as part of his plea deal to cooperate with the Justice Department. He should testify against Robertton.
In his opening argument, Wagner claimed that Robertton “did not act corruptly” on January 6 and only entered the Capitol to “collect Mr. Fracker.”
And while his social media posts may suggest otherwise, she told jurors, he “just walked in, picked up and left.”
“Your job here today is to judge him for his actions,” Wagner said, “not for his words.”
Read the original article at Business Intern