There have been lots of creative twists in the roundup of insurrectionist rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. There’s the QAnon “shaman” who had to be transferred from one jail to another so he could get the organic food his attorney said he must have. A woman who successfully petitioned a judge to let her pop down to Mexico, a la Ted Cruz, for a warm, sunny vacation while awaiting trial on federal charges.
Now comes word that Ohio Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins claims that she wasn’t a coordinating leader of the assault on the Capitol. In a court filing in her case, Watkins’ attorney says the former Army ranger was given a VIP pass to the pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rally on the Ellipse, met with Secret Service agents and provided security for (unnamed) legislators and others. Watkins has been in jail since her arrest in mid January. The defense filing asks that she be released pending trial.
Watkins is one of nine members of the far right self-proclaimed militia charged with conspiracy for ascending stairs in a military-style “stack” formation while wearing tactical gear and breaching the Capitol. Her attorney claims she was wearing the body armor only for her personal protection, not because she was planning to engage in violence. “However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government,” the filing says.
She was not there as an insurrectionist, but rather to provide security to speakers at the rally and escort legislators and others during their march to the Capitol, she claims. Watkins says she was within 50 feet of the stage during the rally and met with Secret Service agents.
On Sunday, a Secret Service spokesperson dismissed that assertion. “To carry out its protective functions on January 6th, the U.S. Secret Service relied on the assistance of various government partners. Any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false,” it said in a statement.