On Wednesday, Josh James, one of the 11 Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6 Capitol insurrection, accepted a plea agreement in a major turning point for the criminal proceedings relating to the event.
But according to CBS News' Scott MacFarlane, the key reporter covering the January 6 cases, James' plea deal involves giving deeply incriminating evidence against Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, also charged in the conspiracy — including an allegation that he instructed his followers to be ready to kill anyone, even members of the Armed Forces, who sought to remove President Donald Trump from office.
"In the weeks leading up to January 6, 2021, Rhodes instructed James and other coconspirators to be prepared, if called upon, to report to the White House grounds to secure the perimeter and use lethal force if necessary against anyone who tried to remove President Trump from the White House, including the National Guard or other government actors who might be sent to remove President Trump as a result of the Presidential Election," said the plea deal signed by James.
Jan 6 defendant Josh James signs plea deal saying:\n\n"(Stewart) Rhodes instructed James &..conspirators to be prepared, if called upon, to report to the White House grounds to secure the perimeter & use lethal force if necessary against anyone who tried to remove President Trump"pic.twitter.com/kBkKP9y3zk— Scott MacFarlane (@Scott MacFarlane) 1646270559
The Oath Keepers are a far-right paramilitary group consisting mainly of current and retired military and police officers, who swear to refuse to enforce any law or directive that conflicts with the group's extremist interpretation of the Constitution.
The group was active on the Capitol grounds during the January 6 attack, where they formed military "stacks" that charged into the building. They have claimed that the stacks were only activated in response to the shooting death of rioter Ashli Babbitt by Capitol Police, although time stamps prove they began their assault before the shooting occurred. A separate video shows Oath Keepers escorting Trump ally Roger Stone in D.C. earlier in the day, raising questions about how linked they are to members of the former president's inner circle.
Rhodes himself, who maintains his actions were not criminal, has been denied pretrial release after a judge determined he was a "clear danger." His estranged wife has testified against him, noting that he built "elaborate escape tunnels" in his backyard.