The Oath Keepers defense have been ordered to disclose how they are paid
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington came amid a week of rapid developments in the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which appears to be escalating. be extended to alleged broader efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
On Wednesday, federal agents raided the home of former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, who played a key role in Trump’s efforts to get law enforcement officials to contest the victory election of Joe Biden. On the same day, officers issued subpoenas and took other investigative steps to probe efforts by Trump, Clark and their supporters to reverse Biden’s victories in half a dozen key states by creating false lists of substitute voters in Georgia, Michigan, Arizona and elsewhere.
Last Friday, Ali Alexander, a right-wing activist who helped organize the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that drew Trump supporters to Washington, appeared before a federal grand jury in Washington. He had testified privately in December before a House panel investigating the events of January 6.
“I have been asked to appear before the Grand Jury today to testify on the same subject as my previous testimony before the Committee,” Alexander said in a statement released by his attorney Paul Kamenar, who accompanied him on both occasions. events. Alexander noted that he filed a lawsuit against a House subpoena for his and a volunteer’s phone recordings, but “out of respect for the Grand Jury process” declined to comment further on his testimony.
In a since-deleted video on Periscope weeks before the Jan. 6 rally, Alexander said he and diehard Trump Republican supporters Reps. Andy Biggs (Arizona), Mo Brooks (Alabama) and Paul A. Gosar ( Arizona) “planned to put maximum pressure on Congress as they voted” to change the minds of those who would not go against the certification of Biden’s victory.
At the time of this committee’s testimony, Alexander said in a statement that he “did not plan or participate in any unlawful activity.” He said in the statement that he was assured, when he received a subpoena to appear before the grand jury, that he “was not a target but a witness to the facts”, and that he had been invited to testify because the committee had not provided prosecutors with transcripts of its interviews with witnesses.
In the Oath Keepers criminal case, the Justice Department this week asked the court to investigate possible financial relationships between lawyers for defendants accused of trying to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president and an entity in nonprofit led by Powell, which as a representative of Trump spread false election claims. and filed a series of unsuccessful lawsuits to overturn the results.
Prosecutors have expressed concern that Powell’s group support could give Oath Keepers attorneys reason to oppose client cooperation that could harm Trump’s interests or make plea deals less likely. which could be against the interests of a particular defendant. The government asked Mehta to ensure that there was no “external interference in the independence of the lawyer… or in the client-lawyer relationship”.
Mehta agreed on Friday, ordering lawyers for Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes and eight co-defendants after a hearing to hand over any funding deal to a third party for his private review. Mehta said he would hold closed sessions with them with their clients to ensure that the latter understood the potential pitfalls if their interests diverged from their lawyers’ funders.
The judge said he was taking the precaution “to ensure that everyone receives appropriate advice and appropriate disclosures are made, and the record reflects that potential conflicts [arising now or in the future] are knowingly and voluntarily waived.
DOJ wants to know if Sidney Powell is funding Oath Keepers defense
Prosecutors cited news reports from Mother Jones and BuzzFeed in recent months saying that Powell’s nonprofit, Defending the Republic, used some of the millions of dollars it raised from spreading conspiracy theories about the 2020 election to pay legal fees for Oath members Keepers to be judged. According to information cited in the filing, four defendants, including Rhodes, took funds from Powell’s organization.
All four are accused of obstructing Congress’ counting of electoral college votes on January 6, 2021; Rhodes and two others are accused of engaging in a seditious conspiracy against the United States.
Powell did not respond to requests for comment. But outside court on Friday, lawyers for Rhodes and several others blasted the government’s request, saying they would of course comply with judicial inquiries, but prosecutors could have raised concerns earlier and in private rather than in a public record.
“This was an attempt to embarrass or harass defendants or attorneys in public. I don’t like that,” Rhodes attorney Phillip A. Linder said.
There are “no strings attached” to the fee arrangement in the Rhodes case, co-lawyer James Lee Bright added, and client confidentiality “is something that is very important to us in our office. “.
Lawyers Stanley Woodward and Juli Haller regret having already been vetted with court-appointed counsel for potential conflicts in their representation of two other defendants who allegedly received funds, Kelly Meggs and his wife, Connie Meggs, in related criminal and civil litigation, and publicizes a fee agreement.
Lawyers for two other co-defendants who did not say whether they had received outside funding, Roberto Minuta and Jessica Watkins, said their clients knew about it and either waived or had no concerns about their funding, respectively.
Attorney Bradford Geyer, who is representing a fourth defendant who allegedly received funding from Defending the Republic, said he generally does not comment publicly on sources of funding. Of the remaining four defendants, lawyers for two said they had not received money from Powell’s group, one is named by the court and the last was not named in the prosecutors’ request .
The inquest came as Mehta said he ‘intends to move at full deliberate speed’ towards an initial trial of Rhodes and four co-defendants scheduled for September 26. All parties have said they believe a trial could proceed despite the scheduled release that month of a public report and approximately 1,000 transcripts of witness interviews by a House committee investigating the events of January 6, which this week caused the postponement. of the scheduled seditious conspiracy trial of the accused members of the Proud Boys from August to December.
Also on Friday, the Justice Department announced the arrest of an Indiana man whom Rhodes allegedly chose as its “chief operating officer” on Jan. 6 and who has served in the past as a spokesman for the Oath Keepers.
Michael Greene, 39, of Indianapolis, was apprehended Thursday and added to a second eight-person indictment against alleged Oath Keepers associates originally charged with the Rhodes group but later separated in a separate case. Previously identified in government documents only as “Person 10” or “Whip,” Greene has been charged with five counts, including conspiracy and aiding and abetting the obstruction of official congressional process and suppressing evidence of his cell phone.
“Attention,” Rhodes sent a cryptic leadership message on Signal on January 5, 2021, according to the charging documents, “Whip is now in charge of the op.”
“Storming the capitol,” Greene wrote in two texts sent with photographs at 1:42 p.m. and 3:05 p.m., covering the burglary on the west side of the Capitol at 2:13 p.m. and the breach at 2:39 p.m. Rotunda doors on the east side were allegedly joined by co-defendant Oath Keepers, according to the indictment. “There,” he reportedly wrote at 3:08 p.m., adding, “[Messed] Nancy office” and “Congress evacuated”.
Greene notably was not charged with a seditious conspiracy like Rhodes and his co-defendants were. The new indictment alleges that Greene joined Rhodes and others in making plans to bring weapons, drive from a hotel in Virginia to the Capitol area, enter restricted Capitol grounds and direct each other and the co-conspirators to meet them there.
The founder of Oath Keepers, his associates have exchanged 19 calls since the Jan. 6 riot began through a breach, prosecutors say
A former Army explosives expert and Blackwater contractor, also known as Michael Simmons, Greene, like Rhodes, spoke to the FBI before his arrest and testified before the House Select Committee on investigate the events of January 6. Greene, who did not plead guilty, said he didn’t know the members entered the Capitol until after. Greene added that those who did it went rogue and that Rhodes did not order Kelly Meggs to do it.
The new indictment adds details about the role of a cooperating co-defendant and alleged deputy team leader who pleaded guilty, Alabama Chief Joshua James. James called Greene at 2:33 p.m., before leading a second “stack” or group of Oathkeepers associates to the east doors of the Rotunda, which they later entered, according to the indictment.
A lawyer for Greene could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.