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A person who joined the pro-Trump mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol apologized Tuesday to officers who protected the constructing after telling lawmakers that he regrets being duped by the previous president’s lies of election fraud.
Throughout a listening to earlier than the U.S. Home committee that’s investigating the revolt, Stephen Ayres testified that he felt referred to as by former President Donald Trump to return to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.
He described being swept up by Trump’s bogus claims, and believing as he marched to the Capitol that Trump would be a part of them there and that there was nonetheless an opportunity the election may very well be overturned.
“I felt like I had like horse blinders on. I used to be locked in the entire time,” mentioned Mr. Ayres, who’s scheduled to be sentenced in September after pleading responsible to a misdemeanor within the riot.
His message to others: “Take the blinders off, be sure you step again and see what’s happening earlier than it’s too late.”
“It modified my life,” he mentioned. “And never for the great.”
Mr. Ayres, who was not accused of any violence or destruction on Jan. 6, mentioned he labored for a cupboard firm in northeast Ohio for 20 years, however misplaced his job and offered his residence after the riot. He was joined by his spouse on the listening to.
After the listening to, Mr. Ayres approached officers within the committee room who’ve testified about being verbally and bodily attacked by the indignant mob. Mr. Ayres apologized for his actions to Capitol Police Officers Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn, Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges, and former MPD officer Michael Fanone.
The officers appeared to have totally different responses to Mr. Ayres’ try and make amends.
Mr. Fanone informed The Related Press that the apology was not mandatory as a result of “it doesn’t do s— for me.” Mr. Hodges mentioned on CNN that he accepted the apology, including that “you must imagine that there are folks on the market who can change.”
Mr. Gonell, who just lately discovered that the accidents he succumbed to on Jan. 6 received’t permit him to be part of the drive any longer, mentioned he accepted the sentiment from Mr. Ayres, but it surely doesn’t quantity to a lot.
“He nonetheless has to reply for what he did legally. And to his God. So it’s as much as him,” the previous sergeant mentioned.
Mr. Dunn, who didn’t get up when Mr. Ayres approached him, mentioned he doesn’t settle for his apology.
The Jan. 6 Home committee that’s investigating the revolt sought to make use of Mr. Ayres’ testimony to indicate how Trump’s Dec. 19, 2020, tweet calling his supporters to Washington mobilized not solely far-right extremist teams, however common People to descend on the nation’s capital.
Mr. Ayres described being a loyal follower of Mr. Trump on social media earlier than Jan. 6 and mentioned he felt he wanted to heed the president’s name to return to Washington, D.C., for the “Cease the Steal” rally.
“I used to be very upset, as have been most of his supporters,” Mr. Ayres mentioned when requested about Mr. Trump’s unfounded election claims. Requested by Rep. Liz Cheney if he nonetheless believes the election was stolen, Mr. Ayres mentioned, “Not a lot now.”
Mr. Ayres mentioned he wasn’t planning to storm the Capitol earlier than Mr. Trump’s speech “bought everyone riled up.” He had believed the president could be becoming a member of them on the Capitol.
“Principally, we have been simply following what he mentioned,” Mr. Ayres mentioned.
Mr. Ayres mentioned he and associates who accompanied him to Washington determined to depart the Capitol when Mr. Trump despatched a tweet asking rioters to depart. If Mr. Trump had completed that earlier within the day, “perhaps we wouldn’t be on this dangerous of a state of affairs,” Mr. Ayres mentioned.
Mr. Ayres mentioned it makes him mad that Mr. Trump remains to be pushing his bogus claims concerning the election.
“I used to be hanging on each phrase he was saying,” he mentioned. “Every thing he was placing out, I used to be following it.”
His testimony echoed the phrases of many Capitol rioters who’ve expressed regret for his or her crimes at sentencing hearings.
He’s amongst about 840 individuals who have been charged with federal crimes associated to the Jan. 6 riot. Greater than 330 of them have pleaded responsible, largely to misdemeanor fees punishable by no a couple of 12 months in jail. Greater than 200 have been sentenced.
In his court docket case, Mr. Ayres admitted that he drove from Ohio to Washington on the eve of the “Cease the Steal” rally to protest Congress’ certification of the Electoral School vote depend. He entered the Capitol by way of the Senate Wing doorways and remained inside for about 10 minutes, becoming a member of different rioters in chanting.
In a Fb put up 4 days earlier than the riot, Mr. Ayres connected a picture of a poster that mentioned “the president is looking on us to return again to Washington on January sixth for a giant protest.”
In one other Fb put up earlier than the riot, he wrote, “Mainstream media, social media, Democrat occasion, FISA courts, Chief Justice John Roberts, Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and many others….all have dedicated TREASON towards a sitting U.S. president! !! All at the moment are placed on discover by ‘We The Individuals!’”
This story was reported by The Related Press. AP reporters Farnoush Amiri, Mary Clare Jalonick and Nomaan Service provider contributed to this report from Washington.