Three members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia were accused by U.S. prosecutors on Tuesday of conspiring to attack Washington’s parliament building on Jan.6. For the first time, people have been accused of organizing the assault in which five people were killed.
One of the defendants, Thomas Edward Caldwell of Virginia, is believed to be a senior member of the Oath Keepers. His colleagues Jessica Watkins and Donovan Ray Crowl, both of Ohio, have also been charged. The three should stand trial for conspiring to violently storm the Capitol, the justice system said.
The charges further include “conspiracy against the United States” and “conspiracy to prevent the government from carrying out its functions”. The federal prosecutor said on Tuesday during Caldwell’s arraignment before the judge that there were “probable” charges as the investigation progressed.
Although the prosecution contends that the evidence is important, Caldwell, who is unable to work and previously served in the US Navy, maintains that any accusation against him is a lie.
Members sent messages to each other about the attack
Justice said Tuesday that it had obtained messages that were allegedly sent by the defendants to each other. These reports suggest that the suspects had largely planned and prepared for the attack.
“We have a good group. We have about 30 to 40 men. We remain united and stick to the plan,” Watkins sent to other militiamen involved in the storm. A Virginia federal judge has said Caldwell should remain in jail for the time being. According to the judge, his behavior on January 6 shows “pure anarchy and contempt” for the law.
Watkins and Crowl appeared in court in their home state of Ohio on Tuesday. When the judge asked Watkins if she understood the charges, she agreed, but said she didn’t understand why she was being charged.
Crowl laughed when asked if he was aware of the maximum punishment he faced. The plot against the United States carries up to 20 years in prison.