Image: Getty/Associated Press

Attorneys for Patrick Stein, a Kansas man convicted earlier this year of a 2016 conspiracy to kill Somali refugees, are asking a federal judge to give him a lenient sentence, arguing that Donald Trump’s racist and inflammatory rhetoric targeting Muslims played a large role in Stein’s desire to terrorize Muslims in the United States.

In April, Stein and his two co-defendants were found guilty of a plot to kill Muslim refugees from Somalia living in Garden City, Kansas. Their plan was to bomb a mosque and apartment complex where many refugees worshipped and lived. “The fucking cockroaches in this country have to go, period,” Stein, who used the code name “Orkin Man,” said in a recording that was played during the trial.

On Monday, Stein’s attorneys attempted to argue that he should receive a lenient sentence due to the climate created by Donald Trump during his campaign. In short, it was Trump’s fault that Stein wanted to kill and terrorize Muslim Americans, which, okay, probably partly true. But to see the president’s racism and Islamophobia used as a pretext to minimize the crimes of a person who plotted a deadly terror attack against Muslims is fucking terrifying.

“2016 was ‘lit.’ The court cannot ignore the circumstances of one of the most rhetorically mold-breaking, violent, awful, hateful and contentious presidential elections in modern history, driven in large measure by the rhetorical China shop bull who is now our president,” the attorneys wrote in their sentencing memo.

They continued, throwing in a Spinal Tap reference for good measure because why not: “A person normally at a 3 on a scale of political talk might have found themselves at a 7 during the election. A person, like Patrick, who would often be at a 7 during a normal day, might ‘go to 11.’ See SPINAL TAP.”

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Yes, I love a little mockumentary humor during the sentencing phase over an attempted terror attack. They also tried to argue that Trump’s victory made it less likely that the men would have gone through with the attack. As the Huffington Post reported:

Stein’s attorneys, who called their client an “early and avid” Trump supporter, said it was important to keep in mind that “almost no one thought Trump was going to win” when evaluating the likelihood of an attack. The plot was supposed to take place after the election, as the group didn’t want their attack to boost Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Stein, in a message to an undercover agent, wrote that if they attacked ahead of the election it would “give a lot of ammunition to the Hillary supporters” and said that Clinton could never be allowed to be president.

“Trump’s win changed everything, and it is reasonable to speculate that it would have changed things among the defendants as well,” the attorneys wrote. “The urgency for action would be gone. The feeling of a losing battle would be gone. The conspiracies, in part, would be disproven as the transition from Obama to Trump took place. It is logical to conclude that the discussed attack would never have happened in the world that existed post-Trump.”

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That is certainly an interesting argument, given recent events and the entirety of Trump’s presidency thus far.

Stein and his co-conspirators are scheduled to be sentenced on Friday. Stein faces up to life in prison, and his attorneys are requesting a much shorter sentence of 15 years, which they believe would “adequately reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law and provide just punishment.”