Jason Van Tatenhove served in a role as National Media Manager for the Oath Keepers militia group. On Tuesday, he testified before the House Select Committee about that role, and what he knew of Stewart Rhodes and the Oath Keepers — which he says are essentially synonymous — from the inside. Among other things, he shared a chilling tale of Rhodes’ desire to target political figures, long before the attack on the Capitol was even a gleam in Donald Trump’s Twitter-watching eye.
Van Tatenhove described the Oath Keepers’ leader as falsely trying to paint the group as something other than a militia — as veteran support, or educational outreach — but said it was always a militia, and always had political violence on its radar. He says that Rhodes saw the potential for Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act as a means to allow the Oath Keepers to become a ‘legitimate’ militia, and that Rhodes read Trump’s messaging as “give[ing] him the nod.”
"What it was gonna be is an armed revolution. I mean, people died that day. — former Oath Keepers spokesperson Jason Van Tatenhove on January 6 pic.twitter.com/b58bxM0J7r
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) July 12, 2022
He also described the Oath Keepers as a “very dangerous organization” that, despite claims to the contrary, became more racist and extreme as Rhodes gathered in white nationalists and alt-right extremists.
Former Oath Keeper spokesperson Jason Van Tatenhove: "I spent a few years with the Oath Keepers and I can tell you that they may not like to call themselves a militia, but they are." pic.twitter.com/aq6uNcJbEi
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 12, 2022
One story that stands out, though, comes from early in Van Tatenhove’s time with the group. He doesn’t state a time specifically, but does say it’s one of the first assignments Rhodes tried to give him (which he says he rejected) and says that he started getting involved with the Oath Keepers during the Bundy Ranch standoff, which took place in 2014 — suggesting that this ‘assignment’ may have been before Hillary Clinton ever even announced she was running for President in the 2016 election cycle.
The video below should start at the 2 hours 44-minute mark — if not, you can skip there to hear the question to Van Tatenhove, and his story.
“Yeah, that went back from the very beginning of my tenure. One of the first assignments that he brought to me, wanting me to do as more of a graphic artist function, was to create a deck of cards. You may remember back to the conflict in the Middle East where our own military created a deck of cards which was a ‘Who’s Who’ of the key players on the other side that they wanted to take out. Stewart was very intrigued by that notion and influenced by it, I think. He wanted me to create a deck of cards that would include different politicians, judges, including up to Hillary Clinton as the Queen of Hearts. This is a project that I refused to do. But from the very start, we saw that.”
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Steph Bazzle reports on social issues and religion for Hill Reporter. She focuses on stories that speak to everyone's right to practice what they believe in and receive the support of their communities and government officials. You can reach her at Steph@HillReporter.com