Jon Schaffer’s Plea Deal Brands Premeditated Use of Force with the Oath Keeper Brand

Here’s Oath Keeper Jon Schaffer’s statement of offense. There’s boilerplate in there making it clear that, “This proffer of evidence is not intended to constitute a complete statement of all facts known by SCHAFFER or the government,” meaning it may not include the information Schaffer traded for his cooperation agreement.

But what his statement of offense establishes is premeditation to use force and brands that premeditated use of force with the Oath Keeper brand.

It quotes (as his arrest affidavit also quoted) his prediction in November that he and others might resort to violence to fight against what he saw as the hijacking of the country.

A group of thugs and criminals hijacked this country a long time ago. And now they’re making their big move, and it’s not gonna happen … People need to wake up and snap out of the Matrix because they’re going down. They made the move, they’re messing with the wrong people here, trust me on that. And we needed it to be open like this. Open fraud. Open theft. Because now we see you, and you’re going down, mark my words.


[I]f somebody wants to bring violence, I think there’s a lot of us here that are ready for it. We don’t want that, but if they bring it we’re going to respond to that, trust me.


We’re not going to merge into some globalist, communist system, it will not happen. There will be a lot of bloodshed if it comes down to that, trust me. The American people will not go for that bullshit once they understand what’s actually happening. So that’s where we’re at. Nobody wants this, but they’re pushing us to a point where we have no choice.

And then it describes how Schaffer, knowing that Congress was about to certify the vote, and having just learned that Mike Pence was not going to challenge the vote, marched to the Capitol and used force against cops trying to protect it. Altogether, he was in the Capitol for just nine minutes.

SCHAFFER joined a large crowd that marched from the Ellipse to the Capitol, where the Joint Session to certify the Electoral College vote was underway-a fact of which SCHAFFER was aware. During the march to the Capitol, SCHAFFER learned that Vice President Pence planned to go forward with the Electoral College vote certification. After arriving on Capitol grounds, SCHAFFER walked through a dense crowd of people, past barriers that restricted access to the public, and right up to a set of doors located on the west side of the Capitol building.

At approximately 2:40 p.m., as legislators and their staff were being evacuated to secure locations, SCHAFFER-still wearing his Oath Keepers hat and tactical vest, and still carrying on his person bear spray-positioned himself at the front of a large mob that broke open the Capitol building doors being guarded by four Capitol Police officers wearing riot gear. SCHAFFER was among the first six individuals to push past the damaged doors and into the building, forcing the officers to retreat. As the mob swelled inside, and officers were being assaulted, SCHAFFER and other members of the mob continued to advance while aggressively gesturing toward a row of five to six backpedaling officers trying to maintain a security line in front of them. The officers’ effort quickly failed as SCHAFFER and the rest of the mob overwhelmed the officers, who ultimately deployed a chemical irritant to disperse the mob. SCHAFFER was among those who were sprayed in the face by the irritant. He thereafter exited the building, with his unholstered bear spray now in hand, through the same doors that he had entered through approximately nine minutes earlier.

Per his plea agreement, that nine minutes exposes him, even with the plea, to over four years of prison time. There is 5K language in the plea suggesting he may get a cooperation letter for his assistance. So if Schaffer is really useful to the government, he may end up getting the three months of jail time he has already served.

But it may be that this deal gave both sides something they needed. It helps a musician avoid an assault charge that might prevent him from touring to the EU in the future (and springs him from jail with permission to tour in the US). And it brands the premeditated violence in support of an effort to undermine the official proceedings of the US government with the Oath Keeper brand. It also may provide the government with proof of a specifically anti-government ideology that would be necessary for any seditious conspiracy charge.

30 replies
  1. Xboxershorts says:

    There was a small group of coordinated militants who left the rally at the Ellipse early.

    Was he in that group?

    • subtropolis says:

      No. That was the North Carolina group, which did not take part in the attack at all. Unlike them, Schaffer was in the thick of it.

    • Leoghann says:

      I assume you’re talking about the Grand Theft Golf Cart bunch, who obviously left early in order to reconnoiter on the edge of the Capitol plaza, and formed the advance guard to hit the doors first. Since Schaffer was one of the first six to begin to breach the East Door, he would have to have been part of that bunch. Although not necessarily in one of the golf carts.

  2. CD54 says:

    Such an extensive, methodical investigation here is really FBI’s meat and potatoes.

    But what is the ceiling in terms of the top level conspiracy which all of these discreet and not so discreet charges can be corralled into later with superseding indictments?

    Not to mention the armed QRF as a conspiracy to violate District gun laws.

  3. madwand says:

    It seems that Schaffer despite being a founding member of the Oath Keepers did not get charged with conspiracy so it may be problematic what he can bring to the fore here. But if a few more higher up members take a plea then maybe he will have started the ball rolling.

    • bmaz says:

      Um, exactly why do you think he was not so charged? These cooperation things don’t happen overnight you know.

      • madwand says:

        I see your point and appreciate it, however perhaps the government doesn’t have the goods for conspiracy, just a thought, or perhaps they do. But that would be reflected down the road with additional arrests and charges. I’m hoping they do have the goods and that higher ups will be implicated.

        • bmaz says:

          Well, we shall see. But I see no implication of infirmity at all, just implication of a thought out and ongoing cooperation discussion, proffer and agreement. It is as it should be, at least so far.

    • gulageten says:

      That is a mistake in the DOJ press release. He is a founding member of his band, not of OKs.

      • harpie says:

        I’ve been reading that it’s a mistake, too. But fwiw, Schaffer initialed page 3 of the “Statement of Offense” [Marcy links to above], with “JS 4-14-21”, which includes:

        Jon SCHAFFER’s Role in Attacking the U.S. Capitol
        . SCHAFFER is a founding lifetime member of the Oath Keepers. The Oath Keepers are a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias. Some members of the Oath Keepers, including SCHAFFER, believe that the federal government has been coopted by a cabal of elites actively trying to strip American citizens of their rights. The organization’s name alludes to the oath sworn by members of the military and police to defend the Constitution “from all enemies, foreign and domestic.” […]

        • subtropolis says:

          I suspect that he is simply an early member of the organization. Calling him a founder suggests some kind of leadership, which does not appear to be the case.

          • harpie says:

            I agree with subtropolis that “founder” IS different than “founding member”, because of the leadership connotation.

            Has DOJ called him a “founder” of the OK’s?

          • Raven Eye says:

            For the former/current seagoing original Oath Keepers, the term might be “plank owner”,

        • gulageten says:

          Good point. It definitely appeared that the press release (and derivative reporting) conflated his band role with his OKs role. But we don’t know the terms or tenure of his OKs membership, do we.

          • gulageten says:

            I do agree that “founding” should be taken to mean original, charter, opening-day, etc. in this case, and no, I haven’t seen him referred to as a “founder” of OKs. Although the expression “Founding Fathers” comes to mind. Anyway, what’s most important is the initials on the doc!

      • Leoghann says:

        When he was arrested, Schaffer was wearing a cap that had “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member” on it. He had referred to himself several times as a founding member of the group (OK, not Iced Earth, was the topic). At this point in the information-for-leniency game, I’m sure the prosecutors have fact-checked everything they put into their information.

  4. pdaly says:

    Marcy, I’m hoping you can clarify.
    My working understanding is that some of the Proud Boys attacked the WEST doors of the Capitol, entered and exited and then re-entered the Capitol through the EAST doors with or around the same time as the Oath Keepers.

    But Schaffer is an Oath Keeper who, according to this arrest affidavit, entered the WEST doors of the Capitol at the same time as some of the Proud Boys.

    But the post from 4/16/21 suggests he entered the EAST doors?
    “From the sounds of things — prosecutor Ahmed Baset described Schaffer as the “tip of the mob” breaching the building and said he entered at 2:40 — Schaffer will be implicated in the breach of the east entrance to the Capitol, meaning his testimony may implicate everyone who went in with him (likely including all the currently charged Oath Keepers, Joe Biggs, and several other Proud Boys).”

    Did Schaffer enter the Capitol twice? Or is there a mistake in EAST /WEST description? Or am I misinterpreting the meaning of that quoted sentence?

  5. John Lehman says:

    A banner leading these poor MAGA’s through the gates of hell:

    “ We’re not going to merge into some globalist, communist system, it will not happen.”

    Have they not read any history ?

  6. phred says:

    A quick question for you EW… I heard that Schaffer may request to be put in the witness protection program, Oath Keepers being dangerous people and all that. It’s possible I have misunderstood something, though, because if Schaffer wants to tour again, then what would be the point of the witness protection program request?

    • emptywheel says:

      I had to drop off the hearing for that part of it. They clearly had already talked about it before the hearing, because it’s in the plea that the US at its discretion will provide security. But Judge Mehta seemed pretty concerned about it–it sounds like it was one of the first things discussed after they came back from a bench conference.

      So I don’t know what it means logistically, but it’s clear that the intent is he’ll be able to tour.

    • Judy says:

      Over on the Tables Flipped thread, here on Emptywheel, there is a comment by Scott P who is familiar with Schaffer’s band Iced Earth. He links to two articles from, one is about 2 of the band members quitting after Schaffer’s role in Jan. 6th was revealed and the second has to do with him being dropped from a collaboration with another artist. To me this would mean touring would be doubtful at this time. There is also discussion of security if he was to tour.

      • bmaz says:

        Yeah, it is going to be a problem for Schaffer. Would think he and his atty have had that conversation, and Schaffer still thought this the best path, and it probably is. Unlikely to be touring anywhere, anytime soon. Still a better path, eventually, than the alternative.

    • phred says:

      Thanks all for the responses. Judy, I particularly appreciate your bringing to my attention the comment I had not seen from Scott P. I was wondering whether there were repercussions from his band mates or whether they were all onboard the Trump train.

      This suggests then, that his “ability to tour” may be more about staying out of jail than getting back on the road. Thanks again.

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