Court disbars Jan. 6 defense lawyer who claimed “it’s not illegal to go inside the Capitol”

Attorney Jonathon Moseley claimed the Oath Keepers merely "went to the Capitol to provide security"

By Igor Derysh

Deputy Politics Editor

Published April 6, 2022 9:29AM (EDT)

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

A Virginia court last week disbarred an attorney representing numerous prominent Capitol riot defendants, including a top Oath Keepers member charged with seditious conspiracy.

A three-judge panel in Prince William County Circuit Court ordered attorney Jonathon Moseley's law license revoked, according to court records first reported by Politico.

The details of the case have not yet been released but a case summary posted on the Virginia State Bar website this week said Moseley was found to have violated "professional rules that govern safekeeping property; meritorious claims and contentions; candor toward the tribunal; fairness to opposing party and counsel; unauthorized practice of law, multijurisdictional practice of law; bar admission and disciplinary matters … and misconduct."

Moseley told Politico that he filed an appeal but his disbarment could complicate matters for his prominent clients. Moseley is a member of the bar of the federal court in D.C. handling Jan. 6 cases and membership in the bar is contingent on his membership in another state, according to Politico.

Moseley represents Kelly Meggs, one of the leaders of the Oath Keepers group charged with breaching the Capitol. He has also represented multiple witnesses subpoenaed by the House Jan. 6 committee, including Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and Ali Alexander, one of the organizers who planned the "Stop the Steal" rally before the riot. Moseley is also an attorney for the Oath Keepers organization in a civil lawsuit brought by Democratic House members seeking damages from the group and former President Donald Trump, among others, for their roles in the riot. Moseley was on the phone with Rhodes when he was arrested by the FBI.

RELATED: Oath Keeper returned to Capitol on Jan. 7 for "recon" as group plotted weeks of battle: prosecutors

Moseley's role in the Jan. 6 cases has been "marked by his unusual and rambling legal filings," Politico reported, which have drawn rebukes from judges.

Moseley and another attorney in December asked U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta to release two Jan. 6 defendants who claimed they might be forced to get COVID vaccines against their will.

"Defendants, not surprisingly, offer no evidence to support their fantastic fears of forced injections," Mehta said, dismissing the motion as a "lengthy diatribe questioning vaccine efficacy and safety."

Moseley has also repeatedly argued that Trump supporters that wanted him to remain in office would not have stormed the Capitol to obstruct Congress because they "needed lawmakers to remain in session to overturn the election," according to Politico.

Moseley also previously represented Zach Rehl, one of the Proud Boys leaders charged with obstructing Congress. Moseley withdrew from the case in December and submitted a bizarre court filing discussing the difficulties of handling the case and his billing practices.

Representation of the high-profile Jan. 6 figures has been complicated by the fact that many defendants and witnesses have blamed each other for the violence that day. Moseley filed a motion in the Rehl case suggesting that Alexander should be held accountable for violence arising from the riot just two months before he claimed to represent Alexander himself.

Moseley has also defended his clients on television, sparring with CNN host Brianna Keilar in February after suggesting that the Oath Keepers did nothing wrong by entering the Capitol.

"I've had lunch in the Capitol for no reason," Moseley said. "It's not illegal to go inside the Capitol."

"Did you break through the window to get into lunch?" Keilar shot back.

The Capitol Police also rejected Moseley's argument.

"When it comes to the violations on Jan. 6, it is not relevant whether or not the U.S. Capitol is a public building," a spokesperson told Politifact. "It was not open to the general public that day. First, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Second, because of the Joint Session of Congress. The rioters violated the law the moment they crossed the police line."

In an earlier interview with Keilar in January, Moseley dismissed evidence compiled by the Justice Department against the Oath Keepers, including messages showing members discussing "unconventional warfare" and a "massively bloody revolution," as innocent ramblings.

"It was about their somewhat fanciful idea that the president was going to call them up under the Insurrection Act, which I don't pretend to understand," Moseley said at the time. "They were quite fixated on the idea that Trump was going to activate them as a militia under the Insurrection Act."

Moseley did not mention that Rhodes in the messages discussed how to make senators "very uncomfortable with all of us being a few hundred feet away." Another message said that Trump had "no intent" to do anything "so patriots are taking it into their own hands."

Moseley in the interview insisted that the Oath Keepers merely "went to the Capitol to provide security at a demonstration that turned into chaos."

"I'm not saying I would advise them to do any of the things they did," he added, but insisted that "their purpose in coming to DC was to provide security for legal, permitted demonstrations."

Moseley's website appears to have gone offline, according to Politico. Moseley, who worked at the Education Department in the Reagan Administration, also previously worked for the conservative legal activist group Judicial Watch, the website site said. He listed his practice areas as including DWI, suspended license, and reckless driving, adding that "Jonathon Moseley delivers the results you need at a price you can afford."

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By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's Deputy News and Politics Editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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Aggregate Capitol Riot Jonathon Moseley Kelly Meggs Oath Keepers Politics Stewart Rhodes