By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A lawyer for a man linked by prosecutors to the anti-government Oath Keepers group on Wednesday asked a judge to consider moving his possible trial on charges of involvement in the U.S. Capitol riot away from Washington because he believes jurors in the city are politically biased.
Lawyer David Fischer represents former Navy intelligence officer Thomas Caldwell, 65, of Berryville, Virginia, who is among around 600 defendants charged in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack when Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s November election victory over then-President Donald Trump. Earlier on Jan. 6 Trump had given a fiery speech to supporters falsely claiming his defeat was the result of fraud.
“There is so much prejudice against these defendants it’s off the chart,” Fischer said to U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, referring to Washington D.C.
Asked by Mehta how he knew that, Fischer said Washington was “very anti-Donald Trump.”
Mehta did not immediately rule on Fischer’s venue request.
In February Caldwell pleaded not guilty https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-riots/virginia-man-with-ties-to-anti-government-oath-keepers-pleads-not-guilty-in-capitol-riots-case-idUSKBN2AC2N5 to several charges, including plotting with others to disrupt the proceeding in Congress.
Caldwell’s attorney has denied prosecutors’ statements that his client is a member of the Oath Keepers or that he has strong ties to the militia.
Also on Wednesday, Mark Connell, a lawyer for Mark Leffingwell, who faces riot-related felony charges, told U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson that defense and prosecution lawyers “need to iron out some details” of a possible plea bargain agreement for Leffingwell.
Leffingwell, of Seattle, was one of the first people arrested on riot-related charges. In a statement, an unnamed U.S. Capitol police officer said Leffingwell “punched me repeatedly with a closed fist. I was struck in the helmet that I was wearing and in the chest.”
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