As officials continue tracking down and prosecuting participants in the January 6 storming of the Capitol building, two additional members of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia group largely made up of ex-military and law enforcement personnel, have been named in connection to a larger federal case. While Oath Keeper associates Joshua James and Roberto Minuta, who allegedly acted as Roger Stone’s personal security, were previously charged in the Capitol breach, they now stand accused in a new indictment of apparently stealing a golf cart to aid their fellow militia members by “swerving around law enforcement vehicles” and entering the Capitol complex. A dozen members of the paramilitary organization are now reportedly linked to the riot via the Justice Department’s conspiracy case.
Court documents published on Thursday note that Minuta communicated with his colleagues on January 6, saying, “Patriots are storming the Capitol building. There’s violence against patriots by the D.C. police, so we’re en route in a grand theft auto golf cart to the Capitol building right now…It’s going down, guys; it’s literally going down right now, patriots storming the Capitol building.” Federal prosecutors allege that James and Minuta, both decked out in “military gear” and with Minuta carrying bear spray, parked their golf carts near the Capitol complex before they “forcibly entered the Capitol building” at 3:15 p.m. alongside other “known and unknown” rioters. After encountered law enforcement officers blocking them from the Capitol building, James, a 33-year-old from Alabama, and Minuta, a 36-year-old from Texas, are said to have “aggressively berated and taunted” them.
Other Oath Keepers mentioned by prosecutors include the group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, and an unnamed former Blackwater contractor who Rhodes identified as his on-site point person. Both men, who have not yet been charged or accused of wrongdoing, reportedly spoke with James, Minuta, and other militia members in 19 phone calls over a three-hour period on January 6. According to prosecutor statements first reported by The Washington Post, the time frame of their communications matches up with the mob’s first breach of the Capitol complex and continued until other Oath Keepers forced their way into the building. Codefendants in the Justice Department’s case include Ohio Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins, Thomas Caldwell of the group’s Virginia chapter, and Kelly Meggs of its Florida chapter. The 12 codefendants are being charged with conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding. Eight of the Oath Keepers have pleaded not guilty, while James, Minuta, and two other codefendants have not entered pleas.
Rhodes, who has claimed that the Capitol riot was not a planned attack, recently spoke at a Texas Republicans rally during which he acknowledged, “I may go to jail soon, not for anything I actually did, but for made-up crime” and added that supporters of Donald Trump should “not cower in fear.” After insisting to the crowd that the federal government wants to “get rid of us so they can get to you,” Rhodes reportedly asserted that if the Oath Keepers “actually intended to take over the Capitol, we’d have taken it, and we’d have brought guns.” One of the last times that the Oath Keepers made headlines of this magnitude was for their appearance at protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown. At the time, they showed up armed with semiautomatic rifles.
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