Lawyer for Montana man accused of attacking a 13-year-old says Trump's 'message' encourages his actions

Lawyer for Montana man accused of attacking a 13-year-old says Trump's 'message' encourages his actions
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

This week, NBC/MSNBC legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Mimi Rocah argued in an article for NBC News’ website that she expects to see more criminal cases in which defendants accused of violent crimes claim, as a part of their defense, that they were encouraged by President Donald Trump’s rhetoric. And in Montana, an example of Rocah’s prediction appears to be coming true: an attorney for a man accused of violently attacking a 13-year-old boy is arguing that Trump’s “rhetoric” contributed to the man’s disposition at the time of the attack.

The defendant is Curt Brockway, who is accused of grabbing a 13-year-old boy by the throat at a rodeo and brutally slamming him to the ground because he didn’t remove his hat for the national anthem. The boy suffered a fractured skull, and Brockway’s attorney, Lance Jasper, told the Missoulian that Trump’s inflammatory remarks influenced Brockway’s state of mind.

“His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished,” Jasper asserted. “He certainly didn’t understand it was a crime."

According to Mineral County Attorney Ellen Donohue in Montana, the 39-year-old Brockway (a U.S. Army veteran) asked the boy to remove his hat for the national anthem; when the boy cursed at him, Brockway grabbed him by the throat, “lifted him into the air and slammed the boy into the ground,” Donohue wrote.

Jasper alleged that while his client obviously wasn’t acting on direct orders from Trump, the president’s “message” encouraged his actions.

Jasper stressed, “Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear. I am certain of the fact that (Brockway) was doing what he believed he was told to do, essentially, by the president.”

This week, the claim that Trump’s rhetoric encouraged violence was also made by attorneys for domestic terrorist Cesar Sayoc, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for mailing a series of pipe bombs to prominent Democrats in 2018. Sayoc, according to Rocah, was essentially using a “Trump made me do it” argument as part of his defense.


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