A federal judge criticized former President Donald Trump for his continued insistence that the 2020 general election was stolen, noting that former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore had better standing to challenge his 2000 election loss yet took his loss like "a man."
Judge Reggie Walton, who serves on the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, made the remarks during a plea hearing for defendant Adam Johnson, who participated in the January 6 insurrection and was photographed carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's lectern through the Capitol.
Johnson pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of entering or remaining in any restricted building. Walton declined to detain Johnson until sentencing based on a request from prosecutors, but indicated he would still consider sending Johnson to prison.
Walton criticized Johnson for his actions during the attack, which took place after a mob of Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol on the false premise the election had been stolen, while denouncing the behavior of the former President:
"You seemed to have thought it was a fun event to be involved in. I don't understand that mentality and to come to Washington D.C. and to destroy a monument of our democracy, I find very, very disturbing."
"And what concerns me, is that you were gullible enough to come all the way up here from Florida based upon a lie and then associate yourself because of that lie with people and try to undermine the will of the American public about who should be the President of the United States."
"I have concerns about whether you will be gullible when something like this arises again ... That concerns me, it really does because we are in a troubled situation as a country."
"Al Gore had a better case to argue than Mr. Trump and he was a man about what happened to him and he accepted it for the benefit of the country and walked away."
Walton, who was appointed by the man who defeated Gore, former President George W. Bush, referred to Gore's decision to concede the 2000 race against Bush after weeks of legal proceedings surrounding a tight race in Florida and the decision of the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore to halt the recount there.
Gore had won the popular vote, much like Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, but challenged the election results based on the fact that electoral votes in Florida were still undecided.
Weeks after the controversial ruling, when Congress met for a joint session to certify the electoral vote, Gore, who presided in his capacity as President of the Senate, ruled the objections of twenty members of the House of Representatives out of order because, pursuant to the Electoral Count Act, any such objection had to be sponsored by both a Representative and a Senator.
Many concurred with Walton's assessment and continued to criticize Trump for his lies about the election's integrity.
Gore himself has publicly criticized Trump's falsehoods about the election and slammed the Republican Party for embracing those claims.
During a CNN interview over the summer, Gore likened claims that the 2020 election had been stolen to a case of "artificial insanity" and denounced Trump's actions:
"The refusal of the former President to acknowledge that he lost by 7 million votes — it wasn't close for God's sake — and apparently a majority of his party is still so enthralled to him that they still believe that the American people did not make the judgment that they clearly made: This is very damaging to our democracy."
Trump's claims and the Republican Party's enabling also ignore the findings of intelligence agencies that conducted investigations under Trump's watch.
In fact, a statement from the Trump administration's own Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of a joint statement from the Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council and the Election Infrastructure Sector Coordinating Executive Committees, affirmed the agencies found "no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised."