Oath Keeper claims she met with Secret Service before Capitol riot

Who are the Oath Keepers?.The Oath Keepers is a loosely-organized American far-right anti-government militia group with thousands of members..Several groups that monitor domestic terrorism and hate groups describe the Oath Keepers as extremist or radical.The Southern Poverty Law Center says the group's primary beliefs are based on a conspiracy theory.Oath Keepers are visible at anti-government protests and counter-racial protests; members carry high-powered weapons and dress in tactical gear.The group's adherents were widely spotted at Trump rallies throughout his presidency.Former law enforcement and military veterans largely make up the group's membership, according to the FBI.Several suspects arrested since the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Captiol have been tied to Oath Keepers, according to federal investigators.

A member of the far-right Oath Keepers who faces charges in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol met with Secret Service agents before the siege and received a VIP pass to the rally where then-President Donald Trump spoke, according to a court filing.

A defense attorney for Jessica Watkins said in Saturday’s filing that the Oath Keeper was in Washington D.C. to “provide security” for the speakers at the Jan. 6 rally, where she stood within 50 feet of the stage.

»LAST WEEK: 6 more members of Oath Keepers indicted in Capitol riot

Watkins is one of nine people linked to the Oath Keepers charged with conspiring to block the certification of the election results in the most sweeping indictment prosecutors have issued so far in the investigation into the violence at the Capitol.

The filing suggests Watkins had a more formal role than previously known at the rally, where hundreds of Trump supporters gathered before walking to the Capitol and forcing their way inside.

»AJC IN DEPTH: Riot at the Capitol — what caused one of America’s darkest days

In asking a judge to grant Watkins bail, the lawyer, public defender Michelle Peterson, said the government’s filings in the case are “filled with rhetorical flourishes design to inflame the passions of its readers without supporting evidence.”

“Watkins was present not as an insurrectionist, but to provide security to the speakers at the rally,” according to the filing.

The Secret Service didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the nature of Watkins’ meeting with the agents.

»JANUARY: Leader of Oath Keepers charged with conspiracy in Capitol riot

The filing also blamed Trump for contributing to the violence, a strategy lawyers for many of the accused rioters have pursued in court.

Watkins “believed that the President of the United States was calling upon her and her small militia group to support the President and the Constitution,” the filing said. “She was ready to serve her Country in that manner.”

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