Trump Rioters Began Planning Insurrection Right After Election

The deadly Trump terrorist riot at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6 was not the spontaneous, passion-of-the-moment development that many Republican lawmakers are trying to make it out to be as they try to give former president Donald Trump a pass for in his second impeachment trial. Rather, spurred on by Trump’s bogus claim the day after the Nov. 3 election that the presidency had been stolen from him, self-styled militia members began plotting an attack on the U.S. Capitol before the first vote recount had even been completed.

A federal indictment returned Wednesday in Washington, D.C. alleges that three U.S. military veterans, Jessica Marie Watkins, 38, and Donovan Ray Crowl, 50 — both of Woodstock, Ohio — and Thomas E. Caldwell, 66, of Berryville, Va., began soliciting recruits for potential violence within days of the 2020 presidential election. They are alleged to have later participated in training sessions in Ohio and North Carolina and organized travel to Washington with a busload of comrades and a truck of weapons. Each of them are accused of conspiring to obstruct Congress and other criminal counts, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say that Caldwell, a retired Navy lieutenant commander, helped organize dozens of others who coordinated their movements as they “stormed the castle” to disrupt the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Real-time conversations recovered from a walkie-talkie-style app captured Watkins discussing a group of about 30 to 40 “sticking together and sticking to the plan.”

In a 15-page indictment unsealed Wednesday, prosecutors revealed new allegations, accusing Watkins of contacting recruits on Nov. 9, six days after the election, for a “Basic Training” camp outside Columbus, Ohio, in early January so they would be “fighting fit by innaugeration [sic].” Prosecutors also allege that Watkins participated in a “leadership only” conference call via an encrypted app, and that Caldwell arranged with another person bringing “at least one full bus 40+ people coming from N.C.” and weaponry ahead of Jan. 6.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies continue to track down the hundreds of people who participated in the riot at the Capitol and more arrests are anticipated in the coming days.

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