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Monday, 22 February 2021

Far-right Oath Keeper leader jailed over Capitol insurrection claims she was there assisting Secret Service in providing security to speakers at Trump rally beforehand - as lawyers argue for her release

 A leader of the far-right 'Oath Keepers' group who was charged in the Capitol riots said she was in Washington, D.C. last month to provide security at the Trump rally and meet with Secret Service agents.

Jessica Watkins, a 38-year-old transgender woman, is one of nine associates of the far-right anti-government group charged for conspiring to storm the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's election victory.

She has been detained since mid-January.

Court filings revealed Saturday that Watkins is claiming she was only in D.C. on January 6 to help with security for speakers at the Trump rally that took place right before the Capitol storming.

She is also claiming the United States Secret Service was aware of her assisting in security efforts near the White House that day.


Prosecutors allege Watkins, an Afghanistan war veteran, entered the Capitol building illegally.

Her attorney appears to acknowledge this fact in a petition filed Saturday claiming that 'Ms. Watkins did not engage in any violence or force at the Capitol grounds or in the Capitol.'

The 'Oath Keeper' leader pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy charges.

According to the indictment, Watkins arrived at the Capitol with communication devices, reinforced vests, camouflage helmets and goggles. Prosecutors claim she forcibly entered the Capitol 'with a line of individuals wearing Oath Keeper clothing, patches, and insignia.' 

Watkins (pictured here during the Capitol siege last month, is one of the nine 'Oath Keepers' charged with planning the attack. She claims Secret Service were aware of her helping with security at the Trump rally before the riots

Watkins (pictured here during the Capitol siege last month, is one of the nine 'Oath Keepers' charged with planning the attack. She claims Secret Service were aware of her helping with security at the Trump rally before the riots 

Watkins, a trans woman and Afghanistan war veteran, has been detained since mid-January – and her lawyers are arguing for her release until trial

Watkins, a trans woman and Afghanistan war veteran, has been detained since mid-January – and her lawyers are arguing for her release until trial

But her attorney said 'Ms. Watkins was present not as an insurrectionist, but to provide security to the speakers at the rally, to provide escort for the legislators and others to march to the Capitol as directed by the then president, and to safely escort protestors away from the Capitol to their vehicles and cars at the conclusion of the protest. She was given a VIP pass to the rally. She met with Secret Service agents.'

The Secret Service could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prosecutors allege members of the 'Oath Keepers' conspired as early as November to storm the Capitol and had extensively planned for a military-style attack. More than 200 people have been charged so far for their roles in the Capitol riots that left five people dead.

Watkins is asking for the court to release her to home confinement pending trial, noting she is at risk for 'harsh treatment' as a transgender woman. 

Group of Oath Keepers seen outside Capitol door on day of siege
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Watkins is a bartender from Ohio and leader of the far-right anti-government group 'Oath Keppers'

Watkins is a bartender from Ohio and leader of the far-right anti-government group 'Oath Keppers'

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