A Small Group of Militants’ Outsize Role in the Capitol Attack

By Jennifer Valentino-DeVriesDenise LuEleanor Lutz and Alex Leeds Matthews

Feb. 21, 2021

As federal prosecutors unveil charges in the assault on the Capitol last month, they have repeatedly highlighted two militant groups — the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys — as being the most organized, accusing them of planning their strategy ahead of time and in some cases helping escalate a rally into an attack.

The two organizations stand in contrast to a majority of the mob. Of the more than 230 people charged so far, only 31 are known to have ties to a militant extremist group. And at least 26 of those are affiliated with the Oath Keepers or the Proud Boys.

The groups differ in their focus and tactics: The Oath Keepers are part of an anti-government militia movement that emphasizes military-style training, while the Proud Boys espouse an ideology of male and Western superiority, with members often expressing white-supremacist and anti-immigrant views. But the groups have been united in their allegiance to former President Donald J. Trump.

Conspiracy charges, among the most serious levied so far, indicate that members of these groups may have worked together and planned their activities, potentially in ways that made them more dangerous than other rioters. Federal prosecutors have said that some members used teamwork to help people escape arrest and to direct and provoke protesters to overwhelm police defenses.

Of the 22 people charged with conspiracy crimes by mid-February, 18 were known to have ties to one of those two groups.

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By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Updated 0323 GMT (1123 HKT) February 22, 2021

(CNN)A leader in an alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy in the US Capitol insurrection claims she was given a VIP pass to the pro-Trump rally on January 6, had met with Secret Service agents and was providing security for legislators and others, including in their march to the Capitol, according to a new court filing.

Attorneys for Ohio Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins detail how the efforts among paramilitants who are now accused of conspiracy on January 6 were closer to the apparatus around then-President Donald Trump and his rally than was previously known.

By sharing the new details in the filing Saturday, the defense attorney for Watkins, a former Army ranger who served in Afghanistan, argues for her release from jail on bond and other restrictions as she awaits trial.

“On January 5 and 6, Ms. Watkins was present not as an insurrectionist, but to provide security to the speakers at the rally, to provide escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then-President, and to safely escort protestors away from the Capitol to their vehicles and cars at the conclusion of the protest,” the court filing said on Saturday. “She was given a VIP pass to the rally. She met with Secret Service agents. She was within 50 feet of the stage during the rally to provide security for the speakers. At the time the Capitol was breached, she was still at the site of the initial rally where she had provided security.

“The US Secret Service, in response to Watkins’ claims in the Saturday filing, denied that private citizens were working with the Secret Service to provide security on January 6.

“To carry out its protective functions on January 6th, the U.S. Secret Service relied on the assistance of various government partners. Any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false,” a US Secret Service spokesperson said in a statement to CNN on Sunday.

The Justice Department, which is prosecuting Watkins’ case, has not yet responded to her claims in court.

Watkins is central to one of the most aggressive criminal conspiracy cases yet to emerge from the insurrection. The Justice Department indicted her and eight other alleged Oath Keepers on several charges related to the riot, including allegations that the group coordinated their travel to the pro-Trump event, discussed training and weapons beforehand, suited up in body armor and broke through the crowd heading into the Capitol in a military-style formation.




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