Justice Dept. Links Oath Keepers and Proud Boys Ahead of Capitol Riot

Leaders of the Oath Keepers militia and the far-right group the Proud Boys have been in communication within the weeks earlier than the Capitol riot and seem to have coordinated some plans for the day of the assault, prosecutors mentioned in court papers.

The proof offered within the papers successfully connects the 2 most distinguished targets of the federal government’s vast investigation into the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The new disclosure concerning the hyperlinks between two extremist groups was contained in a movement filed late Thursday night time by prosecutors in search of to maintain Kelly Meggs, the chief of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, in jail earlier than his trial. Prosecutors cited a number of of Mr. Meggs’s non-public Facebook messages through which he instructed others that as many as 100 Oath Keepers deliberate to be in Washington for a rally in January answering a name by President Donald J. Trump.

“He called us all to Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!!” Mr. Meggs wrote on Dec. 22. “Sir yes Sir!!! Gentlemen we are heading to DC.”

That similar day, prosecutors say, Mr. Meggs wrote to an unknown correspondent that he had just lately made contact with the Proud Boys, who in his phrases, might act as a “force multiplier.” In a separate message, Mr. Meggs famous that he had “organized an alliance” among the many Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and the Florida chapter of the Three Percenters, a radical gun rights motion that takes its title from the supposed three % of the U.S. colonial inhabitants that stood as much as the British.

On Christmas Day, courtroom papers say, Mr. Meggs wrote that his group of Oath Keepers could be serving as safety guards in the course of the days surrounding the pro-Trump occasion — a likely reference to protecting Mr. Trump’s old friend and former adviser Roger J. Stone Jr. — however had “orchestrated a plan with the proud boys” at night time.

According to the messages, Mr. Meggs had already been in contact with a frontrunner of the Proud Boys whose title was redacted within the papers. Apparently anticipating a battle with the antifascist activists referred to as antifa, the 2 males had devised a plan to catch their left-wing adversaries in a sort of pincer transfer on the streets. “We will have the proud boys get in front of them,” Mr. Meggs wrote. “The cops will get between antifa and proud boys. We will come in behind antifa and beat the hell out of them.”

Unlike at earlier pro-Trump occasions, nevertheless, there have been no main conflicts on Jan. 6 between right- and left-wing activists. Lawyers for some of the opposite 9 Oath Keepers charged with Mr. Meggs in a conspiracy to disrupt the certification of the presidential election have nonetheless argued in their very own courtroom papers that they weren’t making ready for an offensive assault on the Capitol, however have been as an alternative preparing for potential violence from leftists. Lawyers for some Proud Boys charged in reference to the riot have made comparable arguments in filings and in courtroom.

By the day after Christmas, nevertheless, Mr. Meggs appeared to have deserted all dialogue of antifa and was centered on overturning the outcomes of the election. On Dec. 26, the brand new courtroom papers say, he wrote a message saying that “Trumps staying in” and deliberate to make use of the “emergency broadcast system on cellphones” to invoke the Insurrection Act, successfully establishing martial legislation.

“Wait for the 6th,” Mr. Meggs wrote, “when we are all in DC to insurrection.”

Mr. Meggs’s lawyer, David A. Wilson, declined to touch upon the submitting. Enrique Tarrio, the chief of the Proud Boys, mentioned he didn’t know Mr. Meggs and didn’t imagine the reference within the Facebook message was to him.

From the beginning of the investigation, brokers and prosecutors have centered on the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, if for no different motive than the 2 teams each despatched giant contingents of members to the Capitol. The organizations have a historical past of working and showing collectively at right-wing avenue occasions relationship to the early days of the Trump administration.

This week, The New York Times published an article saying that federal prosecutors have been weighing sedition costs towards some of the Oath Keepers arrested in reference to the Capitol assault — a uncommon crime that has not been efficiently prosecuted in additional than 20 years. The article got here on the heels of an unusual interview that Michael R. Sherwin, the prosecutor who till just lately was main the riot inquiry, gave to “60 Minutes” through which he mentioned that proof obtained by the federal government investigators virtually definitely meets the bar wanted to file sedition costs.

After the interview was aired and the article appeared, a Justice Department official instructed the federal decide overseeing the Oath Keepers case that Mr. Sherwin had been referred to the division’s inside watchdog workplace for investigation.

Even although the submitting within the Meggs case was the primary time that investigators have revealed proof connecting the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, there isn’t a indication that the federal government intends to merge the separate inquiries. Fifteen members of the Proud Boys have been recognized by title in courtroom filings and are dealing with costs together with conspiracy to resist law enforcement officers and disrupt the workings of the federal government.

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