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Oath Keepers plotting Capitol riots had a ‘death list’ of enemies and waited for Donald Trump's directions

This is the first time federal prosecutors have indicated that Trump might have been directly involved in inciting the siege 
UPDATED FEB 12, 2021
Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl (Twitter / Parler)
Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl (Twitter / Parler)

On Thursday, February 11, the prosecutors at the Department of Justice stated that a leader of the extremist paramilitary group — Oath Keepers — had claimed that she was waiting for directions directly from former president Donald Trump before participating in the Capitol Riots of January 6. Jessica Watkins, a military veteran who is now a leader in the right-wing extremist group, had apparently texted, "If Trump asks me to come, I will," sometime around November 2020. 

The Justice Department filing continued: "Her concern about taking action without his backing was evident in a November 9, 2020, text in which she stated, 'I am concerned this is an elaborate trap. Unless the POTUS himself activates us, it's not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units too. If Trump asks me to come, I will. Otherwise, I can't trust it.' Watkins had perceived her desired signal by the end of December."

This is the first time federal prosecutors have indicated that Trump might have been directly involved in inciting the siege. 


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Pro-Trump supporters gather outside the US Capitol following a rally with Donald Trump on January 6, 2021, (Getty Images)

Was Trump directly giving orders to the rioters?

Prior to this, the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not link Trump directly with the Capitol Hill attack. However, after four of the accused rioters claimed in court that they followed the former president's instructions to storm the Capitol building, the prosecutors decided to take a firm approach towards discovering Trump's involvement in the riots. 

The Oath Keepers are a far-right, anti-government militia group, mainly comprising military or police veterans, who now resort to violence in their oath to "defend the Constitution". A few of their leaders, including 38-year-old Jessica Watkins and 50-year-old Donovan Crowl, were arrested three weeks ago for their participation in the Capitol riots.

Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl are facing charges in the US

On January 16, the federal authorities at FBI filed affidavits against them with allegations that they "knowingly and willfully joined and encouraged a crowd of individuals who forcibly entered the U.S. Capitol and impeded, disrupted and disturbed the orderly conduct of business by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate."

However, the shocking revelation by Watkins about awaiting direct instructions from Trump is indeed a new addition. Considering Watkins, she is the fourth accused and arrested rioter who has professed about waiting for Trump's 'go-ahead' before launching the Capitol attack. Going by a DOJ report, she received her desired signal by the end of December 2020. 


Oath Keeper leader had a ‘death list’

A video that has now gone viral on Twitter shows Watkins and other Oath Keepers in military uniform moving towards the Capitol entrance, armed with weapons and donning protective gears such as a tactical vest, helmet and boots. As per Watkins, around 30 to 40 members of her group were at the Capitol on that day. 

Another arrested Oath Keeper, 66-year-old Navy veteran Thomas Caldwell, apparently maintained a 'death list' that included the name of an out-of-state election official. "Caldwell dehumanized those who held opposing worldviews and discussed killing them, shooting them, and mutilating their corpses to use them as shields,” mentioned the court filing by federal prosecutors.

He also helped other fellow Oath Keepers with links to violent weapons. If reports are to be believed, one of them was a "Surgical Steel Tomahawk Axe" found on Ebay with the appearance of a tactical hatchet that had the words “zombie killer” printed on the blade. 


Who is the election official on the ‘death list’

No sooner did the news of a ‘death list’ do the rounds on Twitter, many couldn't help but wonder who was on it. POLITICO reporter Kyle Cheney tweeted, "Prosecutors say that in a search of Oath Keeper leader Thomas Caldwell's home, they found a 'Death List' that included an election official from another state." Another tweet by Alan Feuer from NY Times continued, "On it was the name of an election official from another state."



Although the name has not been revealed in public, many Twitter users couldn't stop wondering whose name could have been on it. "Did he spell Raffensperger correctly?" one tweet read and another said, "Guessing that other state might be Georgia."



Others downright slammed and trolled the Oath Keepers and the right-wing for the list. One Twitter user wrote, "People like to write down their goals. It's fun to write it down because it is one step closer to doing it. Normal people have lists like 'things to do in the front yard this spring.' RWNJs have 'Death Lists'."

Another said, "Not that I didn't question this guy's intelligence before, but who titles a document 'Death List"' If you're going to be involved in shady business call that list 'Xmas card list' because at some point your home is getting searched..." A third added, "I don't think it occurred to them that they might not succeed."




Why did Rudy Giuliani and Roger Stone meet the Oath Keepers?

A lot of Twitter users, including eminent personalities, seem to believe that political consultant and Trump ally Roger Stone directly coordinated with extremist groups such as Proud Boys and Oath Keepers to plan the Capitol attack well in advance.  

Former FBI agent and lawyer Asha Rangappa shared a video of Stone with a Proud Boys leader who was involved in the Capitol Riots. "This is a good time to highlight that Trump ally Roger Stone was coordinating with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in the months and days leading up to 1/6," she wrote.


Also named in the conspiracy was Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani. "I wish some investigative journalist would check on the Jan 5th meeting that Rudy and Roger Stone had with Oathkeepers," the user tweeted. 


"Oh, Roger your pardon doesn’t work on this one dude. Here is the video of #RogerStone taking photos with the white supremacy militia of the Oath Keepers the morning of the insurrection. One guy says we are going to do this today and he responded I hope so. #SeditionTracker," tweeted another user. 


"Hours after being seen with Roger Stone, Roberto Minuta was on the steps of the Capitol wearing goggles and other equipment. Video shows Minuta pointing and yelling at police next to other individuals wearing logos associated with the Oath Keepers," one user stated.