The Kraken is sticking its tentacles into the January 6 prosecutions, according to a wild new story by BuzzFeed. Reporter Ken Bensinger writes that Sidney Powell’s “charity,” Defending the Republic (DTR), is funding the legal defense for several Capitol Riot defendants, including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.
Several members of the far right militia group, including Rhodes, have been charged with seditious conspiracy after marching into the Capitol in “stack formation” with plans to disrupt the certification of President Biden’s electoral victory. The indictment is replete with internal messages from the group plotting for “unconventional warfare” and a “bloody, massively bloody revolution.”
In a spectacular shitshow interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar, attorney Jonathon Mosely insisted that his client Rhodes and his fellow Oafs were acting as self-appointed security guards who “went to the Capitol to provide security at a demonstration that turned into chaos.” Which fails to account for the arsenal of weapons they’d stockpiled in a Virginia hotel room, but … okay.
Mosely’s unconventional legal style has been on prominent display during the Capitol Riot prosecutions. He appears to be under the impression that he’s going to file a civil suit against the government on behalf of his client Kelly Meggs.
At one point he attempted to file an overlong brief in Meggs’s case likening requests by correctional officers that his client get a COVID shot to the Holocaust.
US District Judge Amit Mehta was not amused:
Whatever motion Defendants intend to file, the court will stop reading it after page 45. See LCrR 47(e). The court will not allow this case to become a forum for bombastic arguments (“SCOTUS Could Not Have Foreseen the Holocaust,” see ECF No. 476-2, at 1) or propagating fringe views about COVID-19 or vaccinations (“A Human Experiment Unlike Any Other,” “Pseudo-Science Displaces Science,” “Mandatory Everything,” “C19 Conspiracy Structure,” see ECF No. 476-2, at 2). To this court’s knowledge, the D.C. Department of Corrections does not require any person held there to accept a COVID-19 vaccine. If that is the intended basis of Defendants’ motion, they must file a brief of no more than five pages (excluding exhibits) establishing such a mandatory policy before the court will accept a longer filing.
And apparently some of the other Oafs, who are not being subsidized by DTR, were similarly unimpressed.
“Such tactics have raised eyebrows among some attorneys representing members of the Oath Keepers who are not receiving outside funding. They question whether the unorthodox legal filings are hurting, rather than helping, their case,” BuzzFeed notes.
Mosely says he’s being paid by the hour, with a monthly cap, and that the funders don’t dictate the litigation strategy. In a motion to withdraw from representing Zachary Rehl, another January 6 defendant, he described the process of applying to DTR for assistance:
Counsel formally applied for financial assistance and coverage for Zachary Rehl’s legal fees and expenses from Defending the Republic on December 2, 2021, after weeks of discussing the availability of such assistance with DTR and Zachary Rehl through his wife. Unable to get a better, more complete biography from Zachary Rehl for the application after many weeks of asking, Jonathon Moseley and his paralegal finally did their best to create a biography and apply for funding. On Monday, Defending the Republic approved Zachary Rehl for financial assistance donations) to cover his legal fees and expenses through trial in May to June 2022. (Going forward, this will not be a supplement toward legal bills, but the complete satisfaction of future legal bills leaving no balance owed, even under the extremely, shockingly discounted “low bono” rates being charged by Moseley.)
As BuzzFeed observes, DTR has itself been the center of substantial controversy, settling claims in Florida and Mississippi that it failed to properly register before soliciting donations. It’s also received a grand jury subpoena for records in DC, according to the Washington Post.
Powell’s onetime Big Lie compatriot Patrick Byrne, AKA the Overstock weirdo who had an affair with Russian agent Maria Buttina, described DTR as a “for profit” and a “scam” in a phone call secretly recorded by attorney Lin Wood. And according to BuzzFeed, the IRS has no record of a tax-exempt entity registered under that name or taxpayer ID number, despite claims on DTR’s website to be a 501(c)4.
So, however weird you think Sidney Powell and her merry band of deranged cephalopods is, the truth is always weirder.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.