‘Oath Keepers Are the Shit’: Jessica Watkins Threatened to Sue Far-Right Group’s Critics After Riot

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Pilar Melendez
·5 min read
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Montgomery County Jail/Criminal Complaint
Montgomery County Jail/Criminal Complaint

In the days after Jessica Watkins stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 with her fellow Oath Keepers, prosecutors say, the Army veteran’s allegiance to the far-right paramilitary group only “calcified.”

The 38-year-old, who is accused of preparing and training for at least two months to “fight hand to hand” to take over the Capitol, was worried about the optics of the Oath Keepers after the insurrection—and talked about suing anyone “class-action style” who spoke out against the group.

“If he has anything negative to say about us OATHKEEPERS, I’ll let you know so we can sue harder. Class action style. Oathkeepers are the shit,” Watkins texted after a media report “portrayed her conduct and that of her fellow Oath Keepers...in a negative light,” according to a memo prosecutors filed Tuesday in support of her detention.

“They rescued cops, WE saved lives and did all the right things. At the end of the day, this guy better not try us. A lawsuit could even put cash in OK coffers. He doesn’t know who he is playing with. I won’t tolerate a defamation of character, mine or the Patriots we served with in DC. Hooah?!” she added.

Prosecutors believe Watkin’s continued loyalty to the Oath Keepers and the “federal crime of terrorism” she’s been accused of justifies their request to keep her detained pending trial.

During her Tuesday detention hearing, U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta remained skeptical about the government’s allegations that Watkins was a flight risk who committed a “crime of violence.” He asked prosecutors for more information on whether the destruction of government property charge qualifies as “a federal crime of terrorism.” The request delayed his decision on her detention to Friday.

“These are issues that are not going to affect only Ms. Watkins but potentially dozens and dozens of others that are coming down the pipeline,” Mehta said.

Oath Keepers Planned to Deploy Armed Force to Capitol Riot: Docs

Watkins is one of several members of the right-wing group who’s been charged with several crimes, including a conspiracy to disrupt Congress on Jan. 6 as they met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory. She allegedly trained recruits to get them in “fighting shape” for another attack at the inauguration and vetted people interested in the Jan. 6 riot to “ensure the right people” were affiliated with the Oath Keepers.

Federal authorities have described the Oath Keepers as “a large but loosely organized collection of [the] militia who believe that the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights” and who heavily recruit former military, law enforcement, and first responders.

The memo comes after Watkins’ lawyers argued their client should be released, as she has been “treated harshly” and is at “particular risk in custody” because she is transgender. That filing also insisted that she is not a threat to the public because she only stormed the Capitol because she believed “that the president of the United States was calling upon her.”

Her lawyers also filed a letter from one of the Oath Keeper’s friends who downplayed her actions as those of an “idiot” whose “feelings outpaced her brain.” The letter, written by a longtime friend identified as Zach H., insists that Watkins is not a terrorist but someone who was just unfortunately “brainwashed by those deeply entrenched in conspiratorial beliefs.”

“I don’t believe that she is wholly unaccountable for her actions—nor do I believe she should or would want to be—but I urge the court from my humble place as an ordinary citizen to show the mercy that I know Americans are capable of,” the letter, which was filed Monday night, states.

Prosecutors note that Watkins’ defense ignores the many well-chronicled actions that she, along with other Oath Keeper members and associates, took in an effort to forcibly stop the certification of the 2020 Electoral College Vote.

“She further notes that detention rests 'on whether she is likely to commit other crimes if released pending trial,’ but still believes that the crimes she committed—the evidence of which is ‘concededly strong’—were lawful and consistent with her oath to support the Constitution,” the memo says.

‘I Am Such an Instigator’: Oath Keeper Leader Charged With Conspiracy in Capitol Riots

As thousands of MAGA supporters stormed the Capitol, Watkins and her militia were clearly visible in photos and videos as they marched tightly in an “organized line up the steps on the east side of the Capitol, wearing combat helmets, bullet-proof vests, gloves with knuckle protection, and radios,” prosecutors allege.

“Me before forcing entry into the Capitol Building. #stopthesteal #stormthecapitol #oathkeepers #ohiomilitia,” Watkins captioned a photo she posted of herself on Parler, the memo states.

While Watkins insists she did not “intend to destroy property and even told others not to engage in such conduct,” she has not provided an explanation for videos that show her with the rioters breaching the Capitol or the months-long planning she undertook to have armed militia waiting nearby.

Prosecutors deem Watkins a flight risk because she’s suggested she’s willing to go “underground if this coup [Biden election] works.”

“There are no conditions or combination of conditions that will reasonably assure the safety of the community or the [Watkin’s] submission to this Court’s authority should she perceive the actions of our leaders or this Court as contradictory to her understanding of her duties under the Constitution,” the memo concludes. “Release may be the norm, but the [Watkin’s] actions and the beliefs that inspired her are uniquely threatening to our democratic way of life.”

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