CNN reported Sunday that Watkins alleges within the submitting that she was given a VIP move to the “March for Trump” rally at which the president urged the group to move to the Capitol, and that she had been offering safety for elected officers and others.
“On January 5 and 6, Ms. Watkins was current not as an insurrectionist, however to offer safety to the audio system on the rally, to offer escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then-President, and to soundly escort protestors away from the Capitol to their automobiles and vehicles on the conclusion of the protest,” the courtroom submitting mentioned on Saturday. “She was given a VIP move to the rally. She met with Secret Service brokers. She was inside 50 toes of the stage through the rally to offer safety for the audio system. On the time the Capitol was breached, she was nonetheless on the website of the preliminary rally the place she had supplied safety.”
The Secret Service adamantly denied that it had employed any Oath Keepers: “To hold out its protecting features on January sixth, the U.S. Secret Service relied on the help of numerous authorities companions. Any assertion that the Secret Service employed personal residents to carry out these features is fake,” a spokesperson mentioned in a press release to CNN.
The Oath Keepers—who emphasize recruitment of army and law-enforcement veterans—have an extended historical past of aspiring to act as semi-official security forces at Trump occasions relationship again to no less than 2019. Founder Stewart Rhodes has often envisioned his paramilitary group as a complement to legislation enforcement, “a pool of individuals that may be utilized by the governor, by the sheriff, or by the president of the US.”
The indictments themselves additionally level to the Oath Keepers playing a central role within the coordinated assault that opened the doorways of the Capitol to the mob. Conspiracy charges introduced Friday towards six folks—together with Watkins—detailed how they shaped a “stack” (usually a maneuver requiring army coaching) to maneuver their phalanx of body-armored members up the east steps of the Capitol and into the entrance, the place they had been in a position to overpower the police.
The FBI agent’s affidavit notes:
Based mostly on my coaching and expertise, a stack or line formation is a tactical formation utilized by soldiers within the army. … The aim of sustaining direct bodily contact with each other is to effectively talk with each other, particularly in crowded or noisy areas.
A few of Watkins’ communications that day with different Oath Keepers mentioned that 30 to 40 folks had been a part of the group. As the Columbus Dispatch reports, Watkins and her chief cohort, Donovan Crowl, had been among the many “stack” members who penetrated the U.S. Capitol. Watkins took video from inside through which she exclaims, “We’re within the fucking Capitol!”
The courtroom paperwork mentioned that Oath Keepers thought-about bringing “heavy weapons” to Washington after the election. Some members indicated plans to carry mace, gasoline masks, batons and armor to the Capitol—nonetheless, they had been in settlement to not carry weapons to Washington due to native anti-gun legal guidelines. As a substitute, they selected to create a “fast response power” with weapons a number of minutes away, stashed in automobiles.
Watkins and co-conspirator Bennie Parker communicated their plans by way of textual content messages over a number of months. In a November dialog, Parker wrote: “Sadly, we are able to’t take weapons.” Watkins replied: “Not into town, no. Simply mace, tasers and nightsticks.”
Some distinguished figures on the far proper—together with Infowars conspiracist Alex Jones, former Trump adviser Roger Stone, and “Cease the Steal” organizer Ari Alexander—might also be swept up within the investigation, according to The Washington Post.
“We’re investigating potential ties between these bodily concerned within the assault on the Capitol and people who might have influenced them, reminiscent of Roger Stone, Alex Jones and [Stop the Steal organizer] Ali Alexander,” an nameless official informed the Submit.
Stone’s activities across the time of the revolt have drawn specific curiosity. He used Oath Keepers as his bodyguards, together with no less than six of whom later entered the Capitol through the siege. Stone later posted a press release on-line that he “noticed no proof in anyway of criminal activity by any members” of the Oath Keepers.
The Oath Keepers have had a long running history of involving themselves in far-right media occasions, notably the Bundy Ranch standoff in 2014 and the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in 2016. Their authoritarian streak in fervent assist of Trump grew to become particularly pronounced this 12 months, significantly after a far-right activist was shot and killed by an antifascist in Portland—after which Rhodes declared “civil war” and urged Trump to declare martial legislation.
The violent rhetoric emanating from the group became even more intense after the election, with Oath Keepers discussing what a civil warfare would entail. “It’s time to begin killing the information media dwell on air,” certainly one of them opined in an Oath Keepers channel.
Rhodes had appeared on Jones’ Infowars program on November 10, claiming: “We’ll even be on the surface of D.C., armed, ready to go in, if the president calls us up.”
Rhodes advised Trump invoke the Rebel Act throughout the identical episode. He additionally claimed: “Now we have males already stationed as a nuclear possibility in case they try to take away the president illegally. We’ll step in and cease it.”
On the Oath Keepers web site, he had pleaded with Trump in a December 23 open letter: “Do your obligation, and do it now. Acknowledge you might be already in a warfare, and you need to act as a wartime president, and there’s not a minute to lose.”