Extremists planned Capitol siege, used radio to track lawmakers: FBI
Members of the Oath Keepers are accused of mapping out attack days before deadly Jan. 6 insurrection
Members of the Oath Keepers, a self-styled militia extremist group are being accused of pre-planning their participation in the Jan. 6 siege on the US Capitol building in Washington D.C., according to the Washington Post.
As stated on their official website, the Oath Keepers are a group of both former and current law enforcement and military “who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.'”
In the court document, the three Oath Keepers members, Thomas Edward Caldwell, Donovan Ray Crowl and Jessica Marie Watkins, are being charged with “Knowingly and willfully” conspiring “together and with others whose identities are known and unknown to law enforcement at this time to commit an offense against the United States.”
Caldwell, a 66-year-old Navy veteran, has been identified as the apparent leader by the U.S. authorities who say he arranged for him and dozens of others to “storm the castle” ahead of Jan. 6.
Footage of the Oath Keepers entering the Capitol was collected, while audio of exchanges from the members to others present at the riots was ascertained by the FBI from a two-way radio phone app, Zello. Documents state that Watkins, a 38-year-old Army veteran, could be heard saying, “We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan.”
What’s more, the charging documents claim the alleged insurrectionists used the radio to update each other on the location of lawmakers.
FBI identified messages such as “all legislators are down in the Tunnels 3floors down,” and “Go through back house chamber doors facing N left down hallway down steps.” One message said: “All members are in the tunnels under capital seal them in. Turn on gas.”
A man can be heard responding to Watkins, saying, “You are executing citizen’s arrest. Arrest this assembly, we have probable cause for acts of treason, election fraud.”
Caldwell, Watkins and Crowl, a 50-year-old former Marine, are being charged with several crimes, including the destruction of government property, disorderly conduct, and conspiracy. They are among over 100 different people who have been charged for the insurrection on the Capitol.
Former President Donald Trump is set to face impeachment for his part in encouraging the rioters. On Jan. 13, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for a second time as he was first impeached in 2019 for abuse of power and obstruction of justice, however, he was not convicted in the U.S. Senate. This time, Trump is charged with “incitement of insurrection.”
Trump held a rally of several thousands of his supporters outside of the White House earlier that day, telling them they were “going to the Capitol” to convince Congress to overturn the election results.
CNN reports that the trial for the impeachment is set to take place in the Senate on Feb. 9.
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