Key Alleged Capitol Attacker Claims She Was Doing VIP Security On Day Of Breach

U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A members of the Oath Keepers militia and a key alleged conspirator in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol now claims she was on-hand to provide security for the Trump rally that morning and for the subsequent march on the Capitol. 

Jessica Watkins, a former Army Ranger, has emerged as a key player in a group of Oath Keepers charged with conspiring to interrupt Congress that day. She is one of nine alleged Oath Keepers indicted by a DC federal grand jury for allegedly conspiring to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College count. 

But Watkins’ federal public defender, in a bond motion filed Saturday night, said she had a VIP pass for the event and was present “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,” Watkins’ lawyer said. “She met with Secret Service agents. She was within 50 feet of the stage during the rally to provide security for the speakers.” 

In response to Watkins’ bond motion, the Secret Service denied to CNN that it employed private citizens on Jan. 6, and it’s not clear to what extent — if any — Watkins actually worked with event organizers on security.

Some Oath Keepers did provide security on Jan. 5 to Roger Stone, who spoke to a rally the day before the attack, and some in his security detail were later seen participating in the attack, The New York Times reported.

Watkins, according to audio from a walkie talkie app cited by prosecutors, was thrilled by the Jan. 6 breach. 

“We are in the mezzanine,” she allegedly said during the attack. “We are in the main dome right now. We are rocking it. They are throwing grenades, they are fricking shooting people with paint balls. But we are in here.” 

“We’re in the fucking Capitol, CROWL!” Watkins allegedly told fellow Oath Keeper Donovan Crowl, also indicted on the conspiracy charge and others counts, before the pair posed side-by-side on video. (Watkins is allegedly above, left.)

Watkins’ attorney argued she was simply responding to Trump’s claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and that Watkins believed Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act in a ploy to stay in power. 

“However misguided, her intentions were not in any way related to an intention to overthrow the government, but to support what she believed to be the lawful government,” Watkins’ bond motion asserted.

Watkins’ attorney also noted that she is a transgender woman, and that as a result, she was at risk of harsh treatment in custody. While in custody, according to the filing, Watkins’ arm injury went untreated and she was subject to a punitive suicide watch in response to a hunger strike, in which she was “left naked in a cell with lights on 24 hours a day for 4 days in full view of everyone else.” 

Watkins’ motion for bond included letters supporting her bid from friends and family. 

“I recognize that Jessica broke the law, and I do not believe that she should get off without punishment,” one friend of Watkins’ wrote, “but not as severe as those who were there to hurt law enforcement agents and politicians.” 

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: