“People like Mr Lolos have been told lies, falsehoods have been told, our election was stolen when it clearly was not,” Mehta continued, adding that the defendants were paying for behavior largely enabled by Trump and his allies became. “We are here today deciding whether to spend 30 days in jail when those who created the conditions that led to Mr. Lolos’ behavior led to the events of January 6th [haven’t been] held accountable for their actions and their word. “
“In a way, Mr. Lolos, you were a farmer,” Mehta continued. “You were a pawn in a game directed and played by people who should know better. I think that will soften your behavior. “
Mehta’s comment is one of the most notable in the Capitol Riots cases. Aside from the Lolos case, Mehta also leads the conspiracy process against 20 members of the Oath Keepers accused of stopping Congress certifying the 2020 election. This case is widely considered to be one of the most important of the entire January 6th investigation.
Speaking on Friday, Mehta said that other federal judges in Washington, DC, had not fully emphasized the fact that many of the contestants in the Jan. 6 mob were fed a relentless diet of lies about the election.
“When you hear people who should know better tell you an election was stolen and they say it loud enough and often enough,” he said, “it’s not surprising that people believe it.”
Mehta’s comment on Trump comes as the House Special Committee on Jan. 6 highlighted the former president’s role in efforts to overturn election results and spread disinformation about his defeat. The panel has summoned Trump’s top aides and was backed last week by the Justice Department’s decision to indict Steve Bannon of disregard of Congressional after he defied a summons from the committee.
Although Mehta accused Trump of instigating the January 6 riot, the judge accused Lolos of refusing to accept responsibility for his actions and repeatedly trying to justify his behavior through remarks at his hearing. Mehta said he believed the 14-day prison term would be enough to deter Lolos from committing politically motivated crimes in the future.
Even after the sentence was passed, Lolos continued his argument and spoke about the judge. Lolos was heard defending his behavior to the police on January 6, saying that videos from that day would justify him.
Eventually, Lolos’ own attorney, Edward McMahon, urged him to stop.
“Mr. Lolos, the hearing is over,” MacMahon said just before the reporters were disconnected from the audio line.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.