Court Battles

Oath Keeper member’s lawyer says DC residents ‘despise’ traditional US values

The lawyer for one of the Oath Keeper members charged with conspiracy and other crimes in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is pushing for a venue change for the case, arguing that his trial would be unfair because D.C. residents “despise” traditional American values. 

In a “motion to transfer venue” filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the defense team for Navy veteran Thomas Caldwell argues that his case should be moved to the federal court in the Western District of Virginia. 

The filing, which was first reported by BuzzFeed News, argued that Washington, D.C., is the “birthplace of ‘The Resistance,’ ” which it defined as “a loosely organized movement among left-wing activists to thwart President Trump’s lawful executive orders and actions.” 

Caldwell’s lawyer specifically cited protests surrounding Trump’s 2016 inauguration, alleging that demonstrators were seen “destroying businesses, cars, and other property, and attacking Trump supporters.” 

“District residents not only despise Caldwell’s politics — they despise many things that traditional America stands for,” Caldwell’s attorney argued. 

“District residents, who largely style themselves as chic, sophisticated, worldly, high-brow urbanites, are repulsed by rural America’s traditional values, patriotism, religion, gun ownership, and perceived lack of education,” the filing added. 

“Conversely, rural America is repulsed by what it perceives as East and West Coast progressive snobbery, addiction to government funding, lack of moral values, and petulant intolerance for those with different viewpoints,” the motion said, adding, “To deny that the lion’s share of potential District jurors will be highly predisposed against a Trump-supporting defendant is like denying that water is liquid.” 

The filing argued that Caldwell “should be judged on the facts of the case and the law, not on his prior support for President Trump.” 

Caldwell, as well as additional alleged Oath Keeper members such as Jessica Marie Watkins and Donovan Crowl, have each been charged with conspiracy to “stop, delay and hinder Congress’s certification of the Electoral College vote.”

Additionally, Caldwell faces a series of other charges, including obstruction to an official processing, destruction of government property, and entering and remaining in a restricted area. 

Prosecutors have zeroed in on several members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right paramilitary group, among the 500 charged in connection with the mob attack on the Capitol building as lawmakers met to certify President Biden’s 2020 presidential election win. 

In a February court filing, prosecutors alleged that Caldwell, who was released on bond in March due to health concerns, leading up to the riot proposed a plan to transport “heavy weapons” in a boat across the Potomac River in a message to a member of the Three Percenters, an extremist gun rights militia.

Caldwell was also found to have been in communication with Oath Keeper leadership leading up to Jan. 6, according to prosecutors. 

Tags BuzzFeed News Capitol riot Capitol riot charges conspiracy charges Donald Trump Joe Biden Oath Keepers U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

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