A federal judge upheld an order releasing a 20-year Marine veteran charged in the Oath Keepers conspiracy case and spotted by prosecutors at “the very front of the line” at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6th. U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta called the matter a “close call,” one that ultimately tipped toward Oath Keepers member Jason Dolan’s pre-trial release.
“I’m certainly convinced that Mr. Dolan possesses weapons,” Mehta said, noting that Dolan denied that point despite extensive evidence to the contrary.
But Mehta said there was not extensive evidence before him “expressly linking” him to those weapons.
“I have real concerns about what his intent was walking toward House Speaker’s office,” Mehta added, finding he presents a “risk” and a “danger.”
Thoughout an hour-and-a-half hearing, prosecutors claimed Dolan repeatedly engaged in misdirection about his weapons and the gravity of his alleged actions.
Federal prosecutors argued that Dolan, a Marine marksmanship instructor for a decade, was too dangerous to let out in a recent legal brief highlighting his interview with the right-wing website, The Gateway Pundit, where prosecutors say he aired a conspiracy theory that Capitol Police unlocked the “magnetic” doors to let him and others inside the Capitol building. A federal magistrate previously ordered Dolan’s release following his arrest last week.
Referring to this conspiracy theory, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey S. Nestler said prosecutors uncovered an “additional fact”: Dolan apparently had been in contact with hard-right lawyer Kellye SoRelle, who unsuccessfully ran for the Texas House of Representatives last year and is general counsel of the Oath Keepers group. Dolan’s lawyer denied this.
Before considering the detention question, Judge Mehta arraigned Dolan, who pleaded not guilty to the charges through his counsel Michael T. van der Veen, the Philadelphia personal injury attorney who defended then-President Donald Trump against the impeachment charge of inciting an insurrection.
Authorities placed Dolan among the military formation “Stack” of Oath Keepers who “pushed forward alongside a mob that aggressively advanced towards the Columbus Doors at the central east entrance to the Capitol, assaulted the officers guarding the doors, threw objects and sprayed chemicals towards the officers and the door, and pulled violently on the doors” on Jan. 6, prosecutors say.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nestler rolled tape on the formation of rioters, claiming that Dolan was on the “very front of the line.”
“We see there that Mr. Dolan was not just a passive bystander,” Nestler said. “Mr. Dolan was there at the very front of the line, actually interacting with the Capitol police officers who were trying to keep the mob back.”
Prosecutors have also expressed alarm about Dolan’s alleged role in a so-called “quick reaction force” (QRF) that was supposed to travel across the Potomac River with guns in the event of a worst case scenario on Jan. 6th. Nestler said that Dolan deposited “multiple, high-powered long guns” at the Comfort Inn Ballston, where the QRF had been planning to deploy.
According to Nestler, U.S. Capitol surveillance footage captured Dolan “mouth agape” and screaming: “Treason! Treason!”
It is not “too big a leap” to think he’s referring to the Congress members, the prosecutor said.
“They were looking for Nancy Pelosi,” Nestler emphasized. “They were looking for her.”
Authorities never found firearms on Dolan following his arrest, and the suspect and his wife denied having them to the FBI. Prosecutors do not believe that denial, saying authorities questioned three of Dolan’s neighbors, two of whom remember him with guns. The second neighbor said that Dolan talked of his gun and showed his “green Kevlar helmet and vest,” Nestler said.
The third neighbor told authorities that Dolan was intense, not well-liked in the community, hung the U.S. flag upside down after Trump lost the election, and owned two assault rifles and a 9 mm handgun, according to the government.
For the government, Dolan’s background—his many years as a Marine marksman instructor—also made his claim of not having guns implausible.
Playing down the firearms allegations, van der Veen hearkened back to his city by noting that Philadelphia has a problem with gun violence, but that is not this case. Van der Veen described Dolan as a “tagalong,” not a leader, and played down his ties to the Oath Keepers group as brief and recent. The lawyer also claimed that his client was never caught threatening violence.
“They were looking for the Speaker of the House,” Judge Mehta said.
“Not my client,” Van der Veen replied. “There is no evidence, let alone ‘clear and convincing evidence.'”
Mehta said he would release Dolan subject to “strict” conditions, including surrendering any weapons that he may have.
[Image via FBI]
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