Oath Keepers Leader Says She Met With Secret Service, Was Given VIP Pass To Jan. 6 Capitol Rally, then withdraws claim
An Oath Keepers leader claims she attended former President Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 rally with a VIP pass to provide security to officials and to meet with Secret Service, Reuters reported Sunday.
Jessica Watkins, 38, was charged with conspiring to storm the U.S. Capitol building in an attempt to block the congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election, Reuters reported.
“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 protesters away from the Capitol to their vehicles and cars at the conclusion of the protest,” Watkins’s attorney said, Reuters reported.
Attorneys for Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins said in a filing that she didn’t intend to overthrow the government because she thought she would “have a role” if and when Trump invoked the Insurrection Act.
— Hugo Lowell (@hugolowell) February 21, 2021
Watkins illegally entered the Capitol building, prosecutors said, though she “did not engage in any violence or force at the Capitol grounds or in the Capitol,” according to her attorneys, Reuters reported.
Watkins wore reinforced tactical vests, camouflage helmets and eye protection while in possession of communication devices, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). (RELATED: Prosecutors: Oath Keepers Leader ‘Awaited Direction From Trump’)
She pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy, according to Reuters. Watkins entered the Capitol forcefully “with a line of individuals wearing Oath Keeper clothing, patches, and insignia,” prosecutors said.
The U.S. Secret Service only collaborated on security measures with government partners, a representative for the agency said, Reuters reported. “Any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false,” the spokesperson said, Reuters reported.
Watkins was arrested on Jan. 18 and remains in custody, according to the DOJ. She has asked to be granted house arrest pending her trial due to potential “harsh treatment” since she is a transgender woman, Reuters reported.
Oath Keeper claims she met with Secret Service before Capitol riot
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A leader of the far-right “Oath Keepers” group charged in the deadly U.S. Capitol riots said she was in Washington on Jan. 6 to provide security for legislators and meet with Secret Service agents, according to a court filing.
Jessica Watkins, 38, is one of nine associates of the anti-government group charged with conspiring to storm the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory.
Prosecutors said Watkins entered the Capitol building illegally. According to a defense petition filed on Saturday: “Ms. Watkins did not engage in any violence or force at the Capitol grounds or in the Capitol.”
Watkins, an Afghanistan war veteran, has pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy charges. According to the indictment, Watkins arrived at the Capitol with communication devices, reinforced vests, camouflage helmets and goggles. She forcibly entered the Capitol “with a line of individuals wearing Oath Keeper clothing, patches, and insignia,” prosecutors said.
But her attorney said: “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 protesters away from the Capitol to their vehicles and cars at the conclusion of the protest. She was given a VIP pass to the rally. She met with Secret Service agents.”
A Secret Service representative said it worked with government partners for security on Jan. 6, but added “any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false.”
Prosecutors allege members of the Oath Keepers conspired as early as November to storm the Capitol and had extensively planned for a military-style attack. More than 200 people have been charged so far for their roles in the assault by followers of then-President Donald Trump that left five dead, including a police officer.
Watkins, who has been detained since mid-January, is asking for the court to release her to home confinement pending trial, noting she is at risk for “harsh treatment” as a transgender woman.
Reporting by Linda So; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Oath Keeper withdraws claim she met with Secret Service before U.S. Capitol attack
By Joseph Ax
(Reuters) – A leader of the far-right group Oath Keepers who is charged with participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol reversed her story on Monday about having met with Secret Service agents in Washington on the day of the insurrection.
Jessica Watkins, 38, had said in court papers over the weekend that she had traveled to Washington to provide security for the march, had received a VIP pass to then-President Donald Trump’s rally and had met with the Secret Service.
But in a filing on Monday, Watkins’ attorney said she had merely spoken with some agents while passing through a security checkpoint.
“Counsel in no way meant to imply that Ms. Watkins met with the Secret Service,” A.J. Kramer, Watkins’ court-appointed defense lawyer, wrote. “A better verb would have been ‘encountered.'”
Watkins, an Afghanistan war veteran who has pleaded not guilty, is among nine associates of the anti-government organization charged with conspiring to storm the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Federal prosecutors have accused Watkins of illegally entering the Capitol building. Her attorney has said she did not engage in any violence.
Prosecutors have said the Oath Keepers began planning a military-style assault as early as November. More than 200 people have been charged so far in connection with the attack, which left five people dead, including a police officer.
Trump delivered a fiery speech on Jan. 6 exhorting supporters to march to the Capitol to “stop the steal.”
The ensuing assault prompted the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to impeach Trump for inciting an insurrection. The Senate acquitted Trump largely along party lines, though seven Republicans voted to convict.
Watkins is asking the court to release her to home confinement while she awaits trial, citing in part the risk of maltreatment she faces in jail as a transgender woman.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Scott Malone and Stephen Coates)
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