Almost every night, about 15 blocks east of the U.S. Capitol Building, Donald Trump-loving protesters gather in front of a D.C. jail and hold a demonstration on behalf of the Jan. 6 defendants who are locked up inside.
But after a year of holding basically the same protest every night, in a spot now referred to as the “Freedom Corner,” one notorious lawyer who vocally supports Trump and has represented a number of Jan. 6 defendants says enough is enough—both for practical reasons and legal ones.
“It’s like, wow, these people have been out there protesting for over a year now,” McBride said. “At some point, the counterprotesters show up, and because it’s close in proximity, and some of the things the counterprotesters say are super-vile, it feels to me that the potential for conflict is now the risk outweighing the reward.”
McBride said the protesters had made their point and needed to get out of there “before something bad happens.”
To underline McBride’s point, just last week a lead organizer of the nightly protests was arrested for getting into it with a female anti-fascist protester. Micki Witthoeft, the mother of Ashli Babbitt—the pro-Trump rioter who was killed by a Capitol police officer on Jan 6. when she attempted to breach the Speaker’s Lobby just off the House floor—was charged with two charges of simple assault and destruction of property after video captured her striking the counterprotester and smashing her megaphone to the ground.
McBride suggested Witthoeft might be better off protesting in a different fashion.
“Micki, in particular, did a hell of a job organizing people with little money, little help—something out of nothing,” McBride said. “She could do a whole lot more good traversing the U.S. than out there on the corner.”
Contrary to McBride’s advice, the arrest hasn’t deterred the right-wing protesters. In fact, it may have emboldened them, as they push to raise funds on Witthoeft’s behalf.
The near-nightly demonstrations—and counterprotests to the MAGA-loving, clemency-seeking demonstrations—have become a bit of an issue for local D.C. police as well. The Metropolitan Police Department has said it isn’t prepared to leave the two sides unsupervised, with one senior law enforcement official telling The Daily Beast that police will maintain a “constant presence” at the jail, despite the protests using up police resources that could be used elsewhere.
But McBride doesn’t just think the protests have run their course because they’re not proving effective from a public opinion standpoint; he also pointed to some dubious traditions that could put some defendants in an even more precarious spot.
Some of the Jan. 6 defendants have long utilized a jail phone line to call into the nightly protests to double down on their alleged wrongdoings. McBride—who is no stranger to experiencing the ire of judges in Washington, D.C.—has advised against the practice.
“Hell yes, it’s a problem,” the pro-Trump lawyer said. McBride shared that he was on the phone with one of his clients, Jan. 6 defendant Ryan Nichols, when Nichols called into the “Freedom Corner” protest to guide him on what to say and what “not to say.”
“I have warned the group,” McBride said. “And I have warned Jan. 6ers and their families who are incarcerated ad nauseam, to the point where some of these people hate me, not to fucking do that!”
As for what the right-wing activists should do next, McBride suggested they focus their energy toward online activism or potentially just “protest in other places.”
“You go on podcasts,” he suggested. “It’s like, at some point, does this run its natural course?”
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