MAGA lawyer repping Jan. 6 rioters plans to try unusual defense — but there's one big problem

MAGA lawyer repping Jan. 6 rioters plans to try unusual defense — but there's one big problem
Alec MacGillis

A highly leveraged attorney whose reputation is in tatters has become the go-to defense for Jan. 6 rioters.

John Pierce, whose boutique law firm is facing mountains of debt, has represented Kenosha, Wisconsin, murder suspect Kyle Rittenhouse, former Donald Trump campaign aide Carter Page and now more than a dozen U.S. Capitol rioters -- and he plans to use an unusual tactic to defend the insurrectionists, reported The Daily Beast.

"We are going to take every one of these cases to trial, we are going to seek full acquittals, and in that process we are going to find out what actually happened on Jan. 6," Pierce said at a rally in June.

Pierce said in one court hearing that he would pursue a "public authority defense," a tactic sometimes used by informants, to argue that his 17 clients believed the government -- in this case, the former president -- had legally sanctioned their crimes, but some legal observers believe that strategy is destined to fail.

"He's not a defense attorney, and therefore he's not an especially good defense attorney and it would take a tremendously good defense attorney to make a good public authority defense," explained national security journalist Marcy Wheeler. "That's why nobody else is trying it."

Pierce, who was fired by Rittenhouse over a financial dispute, is representing Proud Boy William Pepe, conservative media scion L. Brent Bozell IV, and alleged Proud Boy conspirator Ryan Samsel, although the latter notified the judge last week that he would be getting a new lawyer.

Before getting involved in MAGA cases, Pierce's law firm dissolved under more than $800,000 in tax debt and his own admitted substance abuse issues, and he reportedly sent his ex-wife menacing messages and threatened to kill her.

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