‘Call it an insurrection’: Oath Keepers charged for Capitol riot

Four members of the militia group face charges as federal authorities continue the probe into January 6 insurrection.

Oath Keepers during the January 6 2021 riots.
Members of the Oath Keepers militia group stand among supporters of US President Donald Trump on the east front steps of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021 [File: Jim Bourg/Reuters]

Four more members of the anti-government Oath Keepers militia have been charged for their roles in the January 6 storming of the US Capitol to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, according to newly unsealed court documents.

The superseding indictment, which allows prosecutors to add defendants and charges to a previous indictment, lists Joseph Hackett, Jason Dolan, William Isaacs and another member of the Oath Keepers who was not named.

It includes charges of conspiracy, the purpose of which “was to stop, delay, and hinder the Certification of the Electoral College vote”, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, civil disorder and more.

The riot aimed to keep in power former President Donald Trump, who alleged widespread voter fraud cost him the election in November polls. Five died after the violent insurrection.

Portions of the indictment (PDF) are redacted, and it remains unclear why one person’s name was not included. The document does include statements from Oath Keeper group chats and conference calls before the January 6 riot.

An individual identified as “Person One” said a group of armed Oath Keepers would be posted outside Washington, DC, awaiting Trump’s call, whom they believed would incite the Insurrection Act, which allows the president to deploy the military inside US borders.

Rioters are confronted by US Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol, on January 6, 2021 [File: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo]

“We don’t expect a need for him to call on us for that at this time, but we stand ready if he does [and we also stand ready to answer the call to serve as militia anytime in the future, and anywhere in our nation, if he does invoke the Insurrection Act]”, said Person One, believed to be the founder of the Oath Keepers, according to the indictment.

“We’re going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country … you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight.”

The additions bring the total of Oath Keepers charged to 16. Some have pleaded guilty and are working with federal authorities.

Twelve others have been charged and have pleaded not guilty. Federal authorities have charged more than 400 people in relation to the riot.

The Oath Keepers focus on recruiting current and former law enforcement and military to their ranks. Their ideology is thought to centre on the protection of constitutional rights, primarily the right to bear arms outlined in the second amendment.

They became increasingly tied to Trump during his term, agreeing with his anti-immigrant and pro-gun policies.

Fringe lightning rod

Trump was a lightning rod for various militias, conspiracy theorist and far-right movements, members of which attended the January 6 riot.

QAnon, a conspiracy theory based on the belief that Trump was chosen to stop a global, liberal cabal of celebrities and politicians engaged in child trafficking to stay young, played a prominent role in spreading voter fraud conspiracies.

Retired General Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, has become a high-profile figure in the movement. Flynn was pardoned by Trump.

Talk of insurrection appears to continue in pro-Trump circles. Flynn told a QAnon conference in Dallas, Texas that a coup similar to that happening in Myanmar should occur in the US.

Myanmar saw its military unseat the government in February 1 coup, which then caused rebels and a shadow government ally to challenge the military.

A man who identifies himself as a “simple Marine”, referencing a branch of the US military, asks why a similar coup could not happen in the US.

“No reason. I mean, it should happen here,” Flynn responded.

Source: Al Jazeera