DOJ has now charged the following Oath Keeper associates:
- Jessica Watkins, Donovan Crowl, Thomas Caldwell in the first conspiracy charge
- Ohioans Bennie and Sandi Parker
- Kelly Meggs and his wife Connie, along with Graydon Young and his sister Linda Steele in the expanded conspiracy
- Roger Stone security guy Roberto Minuta on his own, for now
- Fellow Roger Stone security guy Joshua James, also on his own, for now
- Kenneth Harrelson, added to the larger conspiracy
Between all the charges, prosecutors have laid out a breathtaking scope of social media use by the militia:
- A leadership list on Signal they appear to have obtained from either Watkins and/or Kelly Meggs
- Open channels on Zello, possibly separate ones for each large event
- Telephony chats and texts, including during January 6
- MeWe accounts
- Way too much blabbing on Facebook, followed by a foolish belief they could delete such content
- Parler for further blabbing
- Stripe for payment processing (possibly for dues)
- GoToMeeting for operational planning
Plus, most of the people arrested thus far had their cell phones on, pinging cell towers, while they were in the Capitol (thus far, two of the accused did not enter the Capitol).
It’s the GoToMeeting revelation, in Harrelson’s affidavit, that gets me:
Pursuant to legal process, the government obtained records from Go To Meeting showing that a user named “gator 6” was the organizer for a meeting titled “dc planning call” on January 3, 2021. The user “gator 6” accessed the meeting from a mobile device using the same IP address ending in 158 [as Harrelson used to access Apple servers], and the user listed themselves as living in Titusville, Florida. Between September 30, 2020, and January 3, 2021, the user with the same IP address ending in 158 attended or organized approximately 30 meetings on Go To Meeting affiliated with the Oath Keepers, using the names “gator 6,” “hotel 26,” or kenneth harrelson.”
GoToMeeting is basically spyware for your computer, because it has to access so many features of your computer to work. As a default it collects a great deal of data on participants, and can be set to collect more. It is end-to-end encrypted, but with legal process FBI might be able to get a great deal of information from GTM, if the Oath Keepers kept it.
Between these twelve people, then, DOJ has served legal process on enough databases to create a veritable dossier on the Oath Keepers. While some of these comms (such as the Zello comms) are ephemeral, Facebook and GoToMeeting and Stripe are data vacuums.
With a database like this, the government can be choosy about which Oath Keepers they arrest. Reportedly, DOJ says they may add 6 more people to their collection of Oath Keeper defendants.
Indeed, it’s not really clear why they’ve charged the last three — Minuta, James, and Harrelson — before charging the last several members of the Stack that entered the Capitol together.
Harrelson was not part of the Stack, but the affidavit justifying his arrest shows him — and another guy — in communication as the Stack came up the Capitol steps, with Harrelson interacting with Graydon Young inside the Capitol. But his organizing efforts in Florida would put him in close touch with the Meggses (Kelly leads the Florida chapter) and James (who lives in Alabama but seems to be tied to the Florida chapter), along with Young (who lives in Titusville).
These Florida Oath Keepers were providing “security” for Roger Stone well before the January insurrection, including an event in Florida. (MoJo had a summary of who provided security when yesterday.)
As for Minuta, in addition to serving as Stone’s security on January 5 and 6, he also was abusive to cops before entering the Capitol and on his way out, when he promised the Second Amendment option came next. Like Young, Minuta is also accused of deleting Facebook, probably just as unsuccessfully.
In James’ case, DOJ seems particularly interested in the communications he had with Minuta, called Person Five in the affidavit even though he was already arrested by the time it was approved.
While James stood with the other Oath Keepers, at least one of them (who will be referred to below as “Person Five”)2 aggressively berated and taunted U.S. Capitol police officers responsible for protecting the Capitol and the representatives inside.
Records indicate that phone number XXX-XXX-4304 (associated with James) exchanged a number of phone calls throughout November and December 2020 with a person who will be referred to herein as Person Five.
On November 13 and 14, 2020, for example, phone number XXX-XXX-4304 (associated with James) exchanged approximately eight calls with the number associated with Person Five. Your affiant is aware that certain Oath Keepers attended rallies in Washington, D.C., held on November 14, 2020, at which some Oath Keepers, to include Person Five, operated as a personal security detail for one or more speakers at the events.
Later, on or around November 20 and December 11, 2020, records indicate that phone number XXX-XXX-4304 (associated with James) exchanged two phone calls with Person Five. Your affiant is aware that certain Oath Keepers attended rallies in Washington, D.C., held on December 12, 2020, to protest the results of the 2020 election—at which some Oath Keepers, to include Person Five, operated as a personal security detail for speakers at the events.
Finally, records indicate that, on or around January 5, 2021, phone number XXXXXX-4304 (associated with James) exchanged six calls with the number associated with Person Five. That day, James, Person Five, and other individuals wearing apparel with the Oath Keepers name and/or insignia provided security to a speaker at the “Stop the Steal” events planned for that day.
Note that Minuta was hanging out with Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola in that December MAGA event.
James’ affidavit ends with this group photo, identifying Connie Meggs, two still uncharged Stack participants, four uncharged people who tracked with James and Minuta during the insurrection, Kelly Meggs, and another Stack member.
Both the Minuta and James affidavits focus on Oath Keeper head Stewart Rhodes, described as Person One, as does this detailed filing opposing bail for Caldwell.
James stayed in touch with others during the time of active investigation:
Since January 6, 2021, phone number XXX-XXX-4304 (known to be associated with James) has exchanged multiple phone calls and text messages with the number associated with Person Five. The number associated with James has also placed at least one call as recently as February 2021, to a phone number known to be associated with Kelly Meggs, the now-arrested self-described Florida Oath Keeper leader.
Thus far, DOJ isn’t explaining why Minuta, James, and Harrelson were arrested in the weeks after FBI started exploiting the Signal chats that organized Oath Keeper efforts on January 6 and, particular, Kelly Meggs’ communications.
But because the Oath Keepers were such promiscuous users of all kinds of social media tools, the FBI has a remarkable collection of data about the group’s activities since last fall. And they’ve picked these guys to arrest.
Update: In his detention hearing today, the FBI focused on James’ providing security for Stone.
The FBI agent who testified at Thursday’s hearing said several firearms were found during a search warrant executed at James’ home. All of the firearms were legal, and none were confiscated. They included a shotgun, a hunting rifle, a few “AR-15 style rifles,” and two pistols, the agent said.
James was paid $1,500 for security at two events, including a “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, according from testimony from his wife, Audrey James. Stone and other pro-Trump figures held several events in Washington in addition to the official rally that Trump spoke at shortly before the attack.
Audrey James said she was sent “around $1,500 total” directly from the Oath Keepers over a mobile app. She stated the funds were paid out over a couple of months to assist her and her children during Joshua James’ absence to Texas and Washington, DC, while he was providing security. She said she didn’t know where the money originated from.
This story, by itself, presents real problems with the story Stone told. He raised funds for “security” in advance of the insurrection, but then said he couldn’t find paid security so relied on volunteers.