Oath keeper charged with conspiracy


WASHINGTON – Leading up to the January 6 riots, Thomas Edward Caldwell, an outspoken leader of far-flung oath-keepers, gave a message to military members organized to mobilize for Congress: “This kettle is set to burst. “

Court documents revealed on Tuesday that Mr. Caldwell, 66, of rural Virginia, advised others on December 31, “It starts on January 5 and 6 in Washington DC when we get on the streets.” Try certifying them some crude on Capitol Hill with a million or more patriots in the streets. “

Mr. Caldwell and two Ohio associates – Donovan Croull, 50, and Jessica Watkins, 38 – were charged with conspiracy to commit a federal crime. The trio had admitted to attacking the Capitol on journalists and were also identifiable in videos posted on social media.

The case revealed the first evidence of planning between a known militia group before the day of chaotic mob violence. Investigators have said they are focusing on right-wing extremist groups to ascertain whether any plot aspects of the attack on the Capitol were accepted in advance, even as most rioters spontaneously He had made it stormy.

Mr. Caldwell had advised militia members to stay in a special Comfort Inn in the suburbs of Washington, according to messages cited in court documents, suggesting that it provided a good basis for “hunting at night” – This obviously means looking for an antifa-style leftist to fight. Ms. Watkins had rented a room under an explicit name.

Mr. Caldwell appeared in federal court in Virginia on Tuesday, promising to fight the charges against him. While arguing for a release on Bond, Mr. Caldwell pointed to his age as well as underlying medical issues and the danger of coronovirus, noting that he relied on a machine at night to help with sleep apnea. can do. A judge denied the request.

Federal investigators also recovered audio recordings of Ms. Watkins’s voice during the riots from the Zello cellphone app, which acts like a walkie-talkie, thought of swearing people talking to other people. According to the charging document, “We have a good group,” he said early in the riot. “We have about 30–40 people. We are sticking together and planning. “An unknown man replied,” We’ll see you soon, Jess. Airborne. “

An unknown person later said, “You are carrying out the arrest of the citizen. Arrest this assembly; We have probable cause for treason, acts of election fraud. “Ms. Watkins responded that she and the others were under the main dome of the Capitol, and another unidentified male voice encouraged them to continue, saying they were” trained for. “

The group he is accused of is part of the Oath Keepers, a far-flung militia-style organization founded by military and law enforcing veterans who believe that a shadowy global cabal conspiracy to strip Americans of their rights Is making

Documents against the trio alleged that in the midst of a generally chaotic scene as crowds began to push their way into the Capitol, a group dressed in paramilitary gear and Ott Keepers Paraphernalia stood outside for their ordination. In one video, about 10 oath-keepers in helmets “are organized and trendy and practice fashion and gather their way in front of a crowd at the door of the American Capitol.”

Credit …Montgomery County Jail, via Associated Press

Those walking side by side with military training have horrified Pentagon leaders, who fear that weapons and strategy training were once provided by the armed forces. Defense Department officials said Tuesday that at least 12 National Guard members have been removed from duties related to the inauguration, two of them for possible links to right-wing extremist movements.

Others arrested in the riots have been linked to the Oath Keepers, although they have not been accused of being part of an organized conspiracy.

At a hearing in Texas last week for Larry Brock, who was photographed with flexible handcuffs on the Senate floor, a prosecutor linked him to the Oath Keepers, citing a Facebook post. Mr. Brock, a retired Air Force officer, told The New Yorker that he had found flex cuffs on the ground and did not intend to use them.

And a criminal complaint was filed Saturday against John Ryan Scheffer, a guitarist for the heavy metal band Iced Earth, who alleged that the Capitol police were sprayed with “bear spray” amid the rioters, saying he Has held “extreme extreme views” for a long time and suggested he is a member of the oath-keepers.

The members of the Oath Keepers – named with the intention of upholding their oath to protect the Constitution – have no geographical center, including Oregon, Montana, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, New York and elsewhere There are scattered chapters on. Some of its ideologies overlap with the so-called Three Percenters, another paramilitary-style right-wing movement that seeks to attract veterans.

Oath Keepers have a more formal structure, consisting of bylaws and bucks. Although the organization claims about 35,000 members, the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors extremist groups, estimated several years ago that its membership is over several thousand.

The organization was founded in 2009 by 55-year-old Stewart Rhodes, a frustrated Montana lawyer who attended Yale Law School and once worked as an aide to former Texas Liberator Rep. Ron Paul. Its members anticipate a new civil war to come.

“This was driven by the notion that the federal government was tyrannical and that everyday Americans needed to be prepared to oppose that tyrannical government when they came to the door,” said Sam Jackson, who has published a book on the organization last year And Professor at the University of Albany specializing in home security matters.

Oath Keepers was involved in a confrontation with the federal government over land issues in the West, including demonstrations in 2014 between the Bundy family and the federal government in Oregon.

And after police killed a black man in Ferguson during the unrest that year, heavy-armed sworn officers patrolled the streets and claimed to protect businesses, but stopped after criticism from local law enforcement.

The group is also among those who sent armed vigil to patrol the border with Mexico or promoted such efforts by others.

In the weeks leading up to the Capitol attack, Oath Keepers issued heated calls for action. Shortly after the election, Mr. Rhodes was given a lengthy message, which aired on far-flung websites, urging volunteers to gather for a “Stop the Steel” rally in Washington. The oath keepers said would provide security, including “our most skilled special war veterans who stand by the armed, just outside DC”

While the participants were instructed to remain disciplined, the message also included what it described as the advice of an unnamed “patriot” from Serbia, who stated in a speech transcript that the Americans were 20 years ago Revolt must be repeated in his country, which reflects Slobodan Milosevic:

“Millions of people gathered in our capital. Neither the barricades were strong enough to stop them, nor was the police determined enough to stop them. Police and military allied with the people after hours of fist-fighting. We created a ruckus in Parliament. And burned fake state television! we won!”

By the time the plans were announced for a major rally on 6 January, the oath-keepers had said in a tone of solicitation. An appeal to volunteers to help the event as a final opportunity to “elect President Trump’s battle enemies to defeat foreign and domestic who are trying to coup.”

Followers were urged to prepare themselves for whatever might come. Prepare your mind, body and soul for war, and above all, be ready for STAND! “

Mr. Rhodes was in Washington on January 6 – a distinctive figure with his eye patch as he lost an eye in a gun accident. It is believed that he did not enter the Capitol himself.

The allegations stated that Mr Caldwell was “believed to play a leadership role”. While Mr. Kraul addressed him as “Commander” in the message cited in court documents, his exact role remains mute.

However, Mr. Caldwell thought that Mr. Rhodes was conducting very little for the day. According to court papers, “I don’t know if Stevie has forgotten his call to arms, but for a while.” This is what we’re doing on our own. We’re with the North Carolina crew Will join. “

Other charging documents identified Ms. Watkins, a bartender from Champakan County, Ohio, who was arrested on Monday, being affiliated with the Ohio Keepers. Attracting a right-wing man, he said at the top of his account page on the social media network Peller, he is the commanding officer of the “Ohio State Regular Militia”, the complaint identified as “a local militia organization that swears Outstanding payment

The FBI identified Mr. Kraul from the same crypto county, who was a member of the same Ohio militia.

The FBI has described several of their sightings against the trio, claiming videos of the capital riot in the affidavit and their own social media postings to blast the building.

For example, said in the charging document, Mr. Caldwell sent a photo of the riot that evening to someone on Facebook Messenger, which read, “Entering us into the palace” and “I am such a rage!” He also wrote, “We need to do this locally. Hurricanes at the Capitol in Ohio. tell me when!”

A search of Ms. Watkins’ home after the riots – she was not there, and investigators cited evidence that she and Mr. Crowl had gone to live with Mr. Caldwell – revealed the paramilitary equipment used in the riot and the construction. Gave instructions for The charging document states that bleach is used as a primary material.

Other well-known defendants in the Capitol attack were released in Washington on Tuesday in a five-hour trial pending a trial. Most were charged with rape and federal prosecutors did not demand their custody.

Among those released were Florida’s 36-year-old Adam Johnson, who was accused of theft by speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lecturer and 34-year-old Josiah Colt of Idaho, who was filmed in a viral image from the balcony of the Senate Chamber.

Two Virginia police officers have filed a lawsuit alleging sabotage in the Capitol, Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson.

Reporting includes Alan Fuer, Mike McIntire, Rebecca Ruiz, Ben Proteas and William Kay. Ranboum’s contribution was.

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