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The Editorial Board: It’s insulting to ask the public to believe Daniel Warmus couldn’t resist the mob

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warmus arrest (copy)

This is one of several images showing Daniel Warmus of Alden breaching the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to a federal criminal complaint.

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Poor Daniel Warmus. The Alden man responded to Donald Trump’s lies about a stolen election, traveled to where a mob mentality was sure to rule and – can you believe it? – got caught up in a rioting mob that put police, members of Congress and American democracy at risk.

So says Warmus’ lawyer as his client awaits sentencing for his part in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at U.S. Capitol riot.

Warmus “followed the mob and will now live with that decision everyday for the rest of his life,” attorney Daniel J. DuBois wrote in a court filing. Warmus pleaded guilty in May to parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, a misdemeanor charge. He was to have been sentenced on Monday, but the judge postponed the proceeding to Sept. 22.

“It can be argued,” DuBois wrote – possibly with a straight face – “that the mob mentality took hold of him and prevented him from staying out of the Capitol building.”

This is called putting lipstick on a pig.

DuBois is merely doing his job, of course. No one need begrudge Warmus or any defendant the benefits of a zealous defense. In many cases, that means casting indefensible actions in their most glowing light. Thus, the lawyer says, it’s important to understand that Warmus, while allegedly ready to accept the consequences of his actions, couldn’t possibly have controlled himself. He had to respond to Trump’s lies and, once at the Capitol, had no way – no way at all – to control his own actions. It was the mob’s fault, your honor.

Prosecutors are asking for 30-day jail sentence, followed by three years of probation, 60 hours of community service and $500 in restitution. They point out that Warmus hasn’t apologized for his actions and note that while on pretrial release, Warmus publicly posted videos of himself harassing local police officers to the point of trying to break into police cruisers. They say he showed an “overly casual demeanor amidst the extreme circumstances” and called his “indifference to violence and property destruction” an aggravating factor.

DuBois, meanwhile, has asked the judge for a sentence that includes no jail time. He argues that Warmus remained peaceful, abstaining from the violence around him.

His client was in the Capitol about 16 minutes, DuBois wrote. “He damaged nothing and physically assaulted no one.” He also disputes the prosecution’s doubts about Warmus’ level of remorse by claiming that his client “continues to prove to those around him that he will do anything and everything it takes to overcome the worst decision he has ever made.”

Still, even giving Warmus the benefit of the doubt, the fact is that he enthusiastically joined those who invaded the Capitol, hoping to force Congress to help Trump steal an election that all evidence shows he lost.

That’s a serious offense and, for it, he should view 30 days in jail as a gift from a forgiving nation.

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Daniel Warmus, 38, entered the Capitol building on Jan 6, 2021. He remained inside the Capitol for 16 minutes. He walked toward the crypt on the first floor, then climbed a staircase to the second floor and entered the rotunda at about 2:24 p.m., where he walked around and put an unknown dark object on a statue, according a court record.

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