How does a mob “illegally storm” the Capitol building when police let them in? That is the latest narrative-shifting question the media wants desperately to avoid after a federal judge on Wednesday found a January 6 defendant not guilty for his conduct during the protest at the Capitol that day.
Matthew Martin was arrested in Santa Fe, New Mexico on April 22, 2021; he later was charged with the four most common misdemeanors related to the Justice Department’s prosecution of Capitol protesters: entering a restricted building, disorderly conduct, violent entry, and parading in the Capitol building.
Those petty offenses comprise the overwhelming majority of criminal charges against the nearly 800 or so January 6 defendants. More than 150 people have pleaded guilty to the “parading” charge—many have been sentenced to a few months in prison.
But those defendants might regret accepting the plea deal offered by the government after D.C. District Court Judge Trevor McFadden not only acquitted Martin on all counts but agreed with Martin’s assertion that he was “waved” in by Capitol Police officers. Martin, who opted for a bench trial before the Trump-appointed judge and testified in his own defense, entered the building around 3 p.m. through a set of doors on the east side. He walked through the Rotunda and stayed inside for about 10 minutes.
For that activity—a right protected under the Constitution up until January 6, 2021—Martin’s life, like that of every other American ensnared in this abusive prosecution, has been destroyed. Following his acquittal, Martin spoke to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Washington, D.C. “I am very thankful for the judge’s verdict and hoping to get my life back together, get my job back,” said Martin, who was fired as a contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy after he was arrested a year ago.
As Martin tries to rebuild the life his own government attempted to annihilate over a 10-minute jaunt through a public building which had been vacated by lawmakers, Martin might get the last laugh. His trial blew up one of the most animating features of January 6—that hundreds if not thousands of Trump supporters overran police and unlawfully invaded the Capitol. Despite a trove of video evidence, including security camera footage showing how law enforcement officers stood by as people filed in on both the east and west side of the Capitol, the myth that a “mob” broke down doors to gain entry persists to this day.
But that narrative just suffered a major blow—and by a witness for the government, no less.
Testifying under oath, a U.S. Capitol police official told the court that police indeed had allowed people to enter the building that day. BuzzFeed reporter Zoe Tillman, who is covering the in-person trials, reported the bombshell news:
When Martin entered the Capitol through a set of doors on the east side, there were two US Capitol Police officers standing on either side,” Tillman wrote on April 6. “Video played at trial showed them standing still and for the most part not reacting to the crowd. U.S. Capitol Police Inspector John Erickson testified that given the large number of people, the officers understood they couldn’t stop them from coming in, but could only observe and try to make sure no one got hurt; Erickson wasn’t one of the two officers but spoke generally about the security perimeter and police response.
The video, according to Tillman, also showed “Martin had waited to enter while the officer leaned forward to speak with another person, and then leaned back, reopening the passageway; Martin tapped the officer on the shoulder and the officer leaned back further.”
In other words, Martin and others were allowed into the building.
It’s not the first time video footage confirmed police officers did not attempt to stop people from gaining entry on January 6. Surveillance footage released under a court order in October clearly shows numerous Capitol police officers standing inside a set of doors on the west side of the building as hundreds walked inside over a nearly 40-minute period.
So, one more allegation about January 6 is exposed as a lie, which can be added to the growing list of falsehoods.
No, it wasn’t an “armed insurrection.” No, Officer Brian Sicknick was not bludgeoned to death by a fire extinguisher or killed as the result of any attack by Trump supporters. Zero police officers died as a result of January 6, not “several” as Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland maintain. No, “white supremacists” and “right-wing militia” groups are not responsible for what happened that day. No, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was not in danger of being raped or killed. No, Kamala Harris and Mike Pence were not in the building during the breach, rendering the property off-limits to the public.
It’s unlikely this latest revelation will stop Joe Biden from continuing to promote these lies, as he appears especially fond of using the talking point of blaming January 6 for Russian aggression in Ukraine. “[How] would you feel if you saw crowds storm and break down the doors of the British Parliament, kill five cops, injure 145—or the German Bundestag or the Italian parliament? I think you’d wonder,” Biden said during a speech on March 3. “Well, that’s what the rest of the world saw. It’s not who we are. And now, we’re proving, under pressure, that we are not that country. We’re united” in taking on Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Only in the imaginary world of Joe Biden’s deteriorating brain did any of that happen.
Kudos—in this case, anyway—to Judge Trevor McFadden for showing a bit of mettle woefully lacking in his colleagues on the D.C. District Court. His verdict represents a tiny glimmer of justice in an otherwise unjust, hyperpartisan, and vengeful legal system in the nation’s capital.