Neanderthal in Chief
- Jan 8, 2021
Authorities suggested for weeks in court hearings and papers that members of the Oath Keepers militia group planned their attack on the Capitol in advance in an effort to block the peaceful transition of power
Buried within the story:
Authorities suggested for weeks in court hearings and papers that members of the far-right militia group plotted their attack in advance in an effort to block the peaceful transition of power. But prosecutors have since said it is not clear whether the group was targeting the Capitol before Jan. 6.
“The plan was to unlawfully stop the certification of the Electoral College vote ... and the plan was to be prepared to use violence if necessary,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy said during a hearing this month. But the Oath Keepers “did not know precisely the way in which force and violence might be needed to support this plan,” she said.
Authorities are still combing through a sea of evidence in what they say is likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. More than 300 people are facing federal charges and more are expected. The most serious charges have been brought against 10 people described as members and associates of the Oath Keepers and several members of another far-right extremist group, the Proud Boys.
But as the sprawling investigation has unfolded, prosecutors have sometimes struggled to maintain a consistent narrative and had to walk back statements made in court hearings or in papers. It has created an opening for defense attorneys to try to sow doubt in the case.
“The government presented a theory (without evidence) that there was a weeks long plan to invade the Capitol,” an attorney for one of the Oath Keepers, Jessica Watkins, wrote in a recent court filing. “There was no such plan.”
In one case, prosecutors declared in court documents in January there was “strong evidence” the pro-Trump mob aimed to “capture and assassinate elected officials." The Justice Department quickly clarified it had no such evidence, blaming it on a miscommunication between prosecutors.
After she was pressed by a judge in a recent hearing, Rakoczy conceded authorities “do not have at this point someone explicitly saying, ‘our plan is to force entry into the Capitol in order to stop the certification,’” but cautioned that the investigation is ongoing.