Editor's note: The video above was published Jan. 28, 2021.
A leader of the far-right group Oath Keepers charged with rioting the U.S. Capitol, now claims she met with Secret Service before the insurrection and received a VIP pass to the rally where President Donald Trump spoke, according to court filings obtained by several news outlets.
In a court filing Saturday, a defense attorney for Jessica Watkins, a former Army ranger from Ohio who served in Afghanistan, argued for her release from jail and other restrictions ahead of her trial. She is one of nine Oath Keepers indicted for their alleged roles in the Capitol riot.
"On January 5 and 6, 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," the Saturday court filing obtained by CNN said . "She was given a VIP pass to the rally. She met with Secret Service agents. She was within 50 feet of the stage during the rally to provide security for the speakers. At the time the Capitol was breached, she was still at the site of the initial rally where she had provided security."
According to a statement to news outlets, the U.S. Secret Service denied working with private citizens to provide security on Jan. 6.
"To carry out its protective functions on January 6th, the U.S. Secret Service relied on the assistance of various government partners. Any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false," a US Secret Service spokesperson said.
According to the indictment, during the riot the group moved together in a military “stack” formation using hand signals to maintain communication and coordination. They then forcibly stormed past exterior barricades and entered the Capitol complex.
An indictment last week shared communications and activities by the group in the lead up to January 6. Messages released included those allegedly from Watkins who at one point responded, “We are in the mezzanine. We are in the main dome right now. We are rocking it.”
The group collectively faces charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and tampering with documents or proceedings. The obstruction charge alone carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison.