Are there situations where saying 'a cop let me do it' is a legal defense against prosecution

Or the reverse, if the police moved the perimeter barrier so that you could get past, that doesn’t mean that you can enter the capitol building.

As far as I know, the President has no authority over Congress, or the Capitol building in which Congress is housed, and therefore could not legally invite anyone to enter,. (It is likely that this will come as a great surprise to the previous title holder and his followers.)

I agree the President has no authority over Congress. But does he really have no authority over the Capitol? It’s a government office building and he’s the head of the government’s executive branch.

That’s if a cop orders you, as opposed to allows you, as the Op said. A police officer can order you to violate traffic law, for example, they routinely wave people thru red lights.

Yeah there is a video of two cops moving a barricade and wavint peopel thur. Those guys may be immune from trespassing, assuming no other laws were broken.

He has no authority over the Capitol. The Capitol Police are under the authority of Congress, as is the building itself. The president has to be invited in for the state of the union. It’s a separation of powers issue.

I didn’t know that. I assumed they were under some part of the executive branch, like the Department of the Interior or Department of Justice.

It may be that no one ever anticipated it happening, but I doubt the president, generally speaking, has authority to abrogate security features when to do so would put other people in danger, unless those people are capable adults who have consented to whatever scenario it is beforehand, and I very much doubt anyone would have consented to what happened on Jan. 6. An after-hours visit to the white house, when security was less, by a group of schoolchildren who were late because their bus broke down, maybe something like that, yes. But not a terrorist raid.

Oddly, the president nominates the Architect of the Capitol, but they are a Legislative Branch official, and the president selects from a list submitted by Congress.

They’re not ordering you to violate traffic law though. If I’m not mistaken traffic law states an order of importance on traffic guidance, which includes “traffic cop” on top.

I think another wrinkle to the Jan 6 insurrection is that it seems likely to me that the police removed the barricades as a response to possible violence from the crowd. If it was an explicit threat of violence, I would think that it wouldn’t be a defense, even if the trespassers weren’t the threateners. However if the police were only responding to implied violence, or thought that violence in hallways would be more manageable in hallways, that defense is a lot stronger.

ISTM the distinction falchion seems to be making is crucial here. By definition, trespassing is entering without permission and if the cops are authorized to give permission, then entering with their permission is not trespassing by definition. It’s fundamentally different than any other crime which has nothing to do with anyone in authority giving permission or not, and where the cops acquiescing - or even ordering - doesn’t fundamentally change the nature of the crime.

If the cops didn’t actively give permission, then it’s more questionable. But if they removed the barricades and/or didn’t prevent people from entering, then I would think the trespassers would be technically guilty of trespassing but would have an argument that they believed in good faith that they were not trespassing.

I don’t think “permission from Trump” is even worth considering unless someone can find that Trump told his supporters to enter the building (as opposed to just saying they should march to it).

I don’t know. I assume so, but that’s based on practical observation of the Capitol and other secure buildings. I suspect any actual citation would be found in some sort of officer’s manual (that likely we don’t have) or the CFR or something, but clearly individual officers admit people (or not) on a daily basis, so I assume it’s been delegated somehow. (I myself have been admitted to a non-public area of the Capitol by a Capitol police officer, albeit not to participate in a riot).

They could misuse that authority, but I think (again not committed to this) that this would be different than not having the authority at least for the purposes of charging the person admitted as a trespasser.

I think from a legal standpoint, you’d need something more than the police officers having removed the barriers or not preventing people from entering. While that made it possible for the rioters to enter, it did not indicate that the police were giving them permission to enter.

A more mundane equivalent would be if I left a window visibly open in my house. It might make it easy for somebody to enter my house, but that ease of entry should not be confused with permission to enter.

If someone accused of trespass wants to argue they were given permission to enter by a police officer, I feel they’re going to need to say the officer gestured them inside or gave verbal permission.

It’s called “entrapment”.

Also a cop directing you through a traffic light or on an off ramp is not directing you to do something illegal. Their traffic direction supersedes the posted signage and lights (presumably because there is an emergency, change in traffic patterns or other circumstance).

The examples are not remotely “equivalent”. In the case of entering someone else’s house, everyone knows full well that leaving a window open is commonly done for all sorts of reasons and does not imply permission to enter. But it’s uncommon for cops whose job it is to control entry to public buildings to just stand by and let people enter at a time when entry is restricted, so it’s reasonable to assume if they’re doing that that entry is not restricted at this time.

Did the cops even give permission? Or was it a strategic decision to retreat in the face of violent protestors? Yes we have all seen the videos.

If cops choose to de escalate a situation, that’s not giving permission to do criminal activity. Perhaps they thought, well they’ll go up on the capitol steps give a speech and go home. Obviously they were wrong.

Seems like the same dynamic as any “peaceful protest” that turns into a riot.

The I was entrapped webcomic doesn’t cover every detail of this case, but does have an example where police officers did not obstruct protestors from entering a bridge, then arrests the protestors for blocking the bridge without a permit and concludes that that does not entail entrapment.