An Oath Keeper accused of providing protection to Roger Stone before storming the U.S. Capitol in a stolen golf cart pleaded guilty on Wednesday, raising the prospect of a potent witness turning on key players in the violent insurrection.
Joshua James, 34, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of justice after communicating and congregating with several other members of the far-right group before and during the Capitol riot. The Alabama resident was originally charged last April, but last month was among 11 individuals to be hit with seditious conspiracy charges, alongside Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.
During the Wednesday change-for-plea hearing, James said he understood what he was admitting to and that as part of his plea agreement, he had agreed to testify. James now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, though prosecutors said he may face something closer to 7 years behind bars and at least a $30,000 fine.
The charges for seditious conspiracy are by far the most serious yet lobbed at anyone in connection with the riot, and James represents a potentially bombshell witness in the saga.
Other plea deals from Capitol rioters, including the notorious QAnon Shaman, have typically included an agreement to cooperate with the federal government. Lawyers for James did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Prosecutors allege that prior to the riots, James served as security at the “Stop the Steal” rally in D.C. At least one photo also shows him wearing an Oath Keeper patch the day before and the day of the insurrection. Court documents filed by federal prosecutors have also previously indicated that James previously served as Stone’s bodyguard. Stone has not been charged in connection with the riots, though he has been subpoenaed by the House committee investigating the criminal fiasco.
This week, NYPD officer Salvatore Greco is facing a department trial for his alleged role as unpaid security for Stone alongside James, who was set to submit a recorded statement in that case.
“Joshua James told us how he and Sal Greco worked security for Stone on Jan. 5 and 6,” NYPD prosecutor Samuel Yee told Assistant Deputy Trials Commissioner Paul Gamble, according to the New York Daily News.
After the Capitol was breached, a superseding indictment alleges, James and Roberto Minuta, another Oath Keeper, drove to the Capitol in a golf cart from the group’s D.C. hotel, at times swerving around law enforcement cars.
“While entering the Capitol building, James and Minuta pushed past Capitol Police officers who placed their hands on James and Minuta in unsuccessful attempts to stop them from advancing toward the Rotunda,” the indictment states. Minuta has pleaded not guilty.
Once at the building, prosecutors say, Minuta berated and taunted several officers in riot gear before the pair forcefully entered into the Capitol building through the east side Rotunda doors. James and Minuta were allegedly both wearing military gear, and prosecutors said that at one point, James was seen “assaulting law-enforcement officers inside the Capitol building while screaming ‘Get out of my Capitol! This is my fucking building!’”
Afterwards, James and Minuta gathered with other Oath Keepers near the Capitol—including Rhodes, the feds say.