Oath Keepers militia leaders and far-right Proud Boys were in touch in the weeks leading up to the Capitol uprising and appear to have coordinated some plans for the day of the attack, prosecutors said in court files.
The evidence presented in the newspapers effectively ties the two main objectives of the federal government’s comprehensive investigation into the January 6th storming of the Capitol.
The new revelation about the links between two extremist groups was contained in a motion filed late Thursday night by prosecutors seeking to keep Kelly Meggs, head of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers, in jail before his trial. Prosecutors cited several private Facebook messages from Mr Meggs telling others that up to 100 oath guards were planning to be in Washington for a rally in January to answer a call from President Donald J. Trump.
“He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to go wild !!!” Mr. Meggs wrote on December 22nd. “Sir yes, sir !!! Gentlemen, we’re going to DC. “
On the same day, according to the public prosecutor, Mr Meggs wrote to an unknown correspondent that he had recently contacted the Proud Boys, who he said could function as a “force multiplier”. In a separate message, Meggs noted that he had organized “an alliance” between the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and the Florida Chapter of the Three Percenters, a radical gun rights movement that takes its name from the alleged three percent of the US colonial population who make up the British withstood.
According to court records, Mr Meggs wrote on Christmas Day that his group of oath guards would act as security guards during the days surrounding the pro-Trump event – a likely clue to the protection of Mr Trump’s old friend and former advisor Roger J. Stone Jr . – but had “staged a plan with the proud boys” at night.
According to the news, Mr. Meggs had already contacted a leader of the Proud Boys, whose name was being edited in the newspapers. Apparently the two men were expecting a conflict with the anti-fascist activists known as Antifa and had come up with a plan to catch their left opponents in a kind of pincer movement on the streets. “We will have the proud boys in front of us,” wrote Meggs. “The cops will get between Antifa and proud boys. We’re going to come in behind Antifa and the hell of it beat her. “
Unlike previous pro-Trump events, however, there were no major conflicts between right and left activists on January 6. Attorneys for some of the other nine Oath Guards charged with conspiring against Mr. Meggs to disrupt the confirmation of the presidential election have nonetheless argued in their own court records that they were not preparing for an offensive attack on the Capitol, they were instead ready for possible violence from the left. Lawyers for some of the proud boys charged in connection with the riot have made similar arguments on file and in court.
However, the day after Christmas, Mr Meggs appeared to have given up all discussions about Antifa and focused on reversing the election results. On December 26, the new court records read, he wrote a message announcing “Trumps will stay in” and planned to use the “cell phone emergency system” to enforce the insurgency law and thus effectively establishing martial law.
“Wait for the 6th,” wrote Meggs, “when we’re all in DC to riot.”
Mr. Meggs’ attorney, David A. Wilson, declined to comment on the filing. Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, said he didn’t know Mr. Meggs and didn’t think the hint in the Facebook message was aimed at him.
From the start of the investigation, agents and prosecutors have focused on the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, if for no other reason than the two groups, both of which have sent large contingents of members to the Capitol. The organizations have a long history of collaborating and appearing together at right-wing events that date back to the early days of the Trump administration.
This week the New York Times published an article stating that federal prosecutors were bringing sedition charges against some of the Oathmen arrested in connection with the Capitol attack – a rare crime that has not been prosecuted in more than 20 years has been. The article followed an unusual interview given by Michael R. Sherwin, the prosecutor who until recently led the riot investigation, “60 minutes” in which he said the evidence received from government investigators was almost certainly the bar required fulfill indictment of sedition.
After the interview was aired and the article appeared, a Justice Department official informed the federal judge overseeing the Oath Guards’ case that Mr. Sherwin had been referred to the Department’s internal surveillance office for investigation.
Although the filing in the Meggs case was the first time investigators revealed evidence linking the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, there is no indication that the government intends to merge the separate investigations. Fifteen members of the Proud Boys have been identified by name in court files and are charged, among other things, with conspiracy to resist law enforcement officers and disrupt the work of the government.