Stephen Ayres, an Ohio resident who entered the Capitol on January 1st. February 6, 2021, Tuesday, testified before a congressional committee investigating the attack. Ayres pleaded guilty last month to charges related to his Jan. 1 actions. 6 as part agreement with federal prosecutors.
In his testimony, Ayres stated that he was not a member of any extremist group, but was a “family man and worker” who was taken in by former President Trump. “Family is my life,” he told the committee.
Following Trump on social media led Ayres to the entrance to the Capitol building on Jan. 1. 6, he testified. “I was pretty hardcore on social media,” Ayres said. “I followed President Trump on every website. In essence, he said, “Come to the Stop theft rally, and I felt like I should be here.”
Ayres said he believed all of Trump’s lies that the election was rigged and stolen. His original plans in the nation’s capital were to attend a rally at the Ellipse before the electoral votes were counted in the Capitol. But his plan changed during Trump’s speech. “The President angered everyone and ordered everyone to lead [to the Capitol]”Ayres said. “So we basically just followed what he said. I think everyone thought he was going to come [to the Capitol]. In his speech, he said that he was going to be there with us. I believed.”
After Ayres went to the Capitol at Trump’s insistence, he said, he faced federal criminal charges, lost his job and was forced to sell his house.
According to charging document Filed by federal prosecutors, a member of Ayres’ family told investigators of his involvement in the attack on the Capitol. Prosecutors alleged that Ayres released information about his activities on January 1. 6 on Facebook later that day. In the video reviewed by federal investigators, Ayres, along with two other people, identified themselves by their first names and described their activities inside the building. Ayres stated that the ‘fake news’ would not accurately report what happened at the Capitol, but that they ‘saw it all’ and they ‘have footage everywhere in the Capitol’, prosecutors said.
In a sworn letter, prosecutors alleged that on January 1, 2017, on February 2, 2021, Ayres called on others to join in what he said would be a historic moment. “History is happening right before your eyes!” Ayres allegedly wrote about this on Facebook. “When your grandchildren ask, “Where were you when………..happened?” What will be your answer?
Ayres now understands that Trump’s accusations of falsifying and stealing the presidential election results are false, especially given the fact that all his attempts to challenge the results in court have failed, he told the committee. “I felt like I was wearing blinders, I was locked up the whole time,” Ayres said. “The most important thing for me is to take off the blinkers, take a step back and see what happens before it’s too late.”
Leaving the hearing, Ayres apologized to every member of the Capitol police who attended Thursday’s hearing for his actions on January 1st. 6.