An alleged member of the Oath Keepers militia who has been charged in the 6 January insurrection has claimed she attended Donald Trump’s rally as VIP security to protect legislators and protestors and had met with Secret Service agents.
Attorneys for Jessica Watkins from Ohio shared new details surrounding her alleged involvement in the riots in a court filing requesting her release from custody on bail under home confinement while awaiting trial.
The filing claims that "on 5 and 6 of January Ms Watkins was present not as an insurrectionist, but to provide security to the speakers at the rally.”
The document says that Ms Watkins was present to “provide escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then-President” and safely escort protestors back from the march.
The filing reads: "She was given a VIP pass to the rally. She met with Secret Service agents. She was within 50 feet of the stage during the rally to provide security for the speakers.”
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In a statement to CNN in response to the claims, the US Secret Service denied that private citizens were working with the Secret Service to provide security on 6 January.
"To carry out its protective functions on 6 January, the US Secret Service relied on the assistance of various government partners,” a US Secret Service spokesperson told the broadcaster.
They added: “Any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false.”
Ms Watkins is facing charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, and unlawful entry on restricted buildings or grounds for her alleged role in the riot.
The filing argues that Ms Watkins did not vandalise anything in the Capitol or engage in any destruction of property, and in fact, encouraged others not to vandalise.
Her attorney’s also argued that Ms Watkins should not be forced to remain in custody while awaiting trial due to her “particular susceptibility to violence or health risks during pretrial custody.”
Ms Watkins, who was a ranger in the Army and served in Afghanistan, “is at risk of harsh treatment in custody” as a transgender female, the report says.
They say that “while in local custody, she was treated harshly” and note that she faces increased Covid-19 risks.
Prosecutors had previously asked a judge to keep Ms Watkins behind bars until her trial, saying that she had a “single-minded devotion to obstruct through violence an official proceeding that, on 6 January was designed to confirm the next President of the United States”.
The court filing states that Ms Watkins acted on the belief that Mr Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act to use the military to ensure his continued presidency despite the election results.
Her attorney says Ms Watkins had become to believe the results were fraudulently reported: “in large measure because of the rhetoric of the President, his congressional supporters, and the right-wing media.”
“However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” the filing reads.
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The Oath Keepers are a loosely connected paramilitary group that believes “the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”
The Justice Department, which is prosecuting Ms Watkins’ case, has not yet responded to her claims in court, The Post reported.
Federal prosecutors have charged nine alleged members of the far-right anti-government Oath Keepers militia with conspiring to attack the US Capitol in one of the largest indictments in the wake of the insurrection.
A 21-page indictment alleges that the defendants “did knowingly combine, conspire, confederate, and agree with each other and others known and unknown” to break into the Capitol building.
Federal prosecutors allege that militia members attended “paramilitary combat” training to prepare for the attack, used social media and messaging apps to recruit others, and brought tactical gear to Washington DC to “forcibly” storm through police barricades.
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