Pre-Jan 6 Oath Keeper Texts Show Terror At The Idea Of A Massive Antifa Army In DC

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Men belonging to the Oath Keepers wearing military tactical gear attend the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters breeched the security surroundin... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Men belonging to the Oath Keepers wearing military tactical gear attend the "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters breeched the security surrounding the U.S. Capitol to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election.(Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images) MORE LESS

The far-right militia members who, texts released Monday show, were ready to provide security on Jan. 6 for top associates of former President Trump spent the days before the insurrection fretting about one thing: a division of violent leftists descending on D.C. to attack Trump supporters.

It was a feverish concern, giving the groups a fearsome, if imaginary, enemy around which to organize and to prepare for battle.

Rank and file Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were obsessed with Antifa in the days leading up to the insurrection, just as President Trump and senior members of his administration focused on the semi-existent group as potential instigators on Jan. 6.

But as Congress convened that day, the hordes of Antifa failed to materialize. Instead, it was members of the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and others who surrounded and stormed the Capitol in an effort to block Congress from formalizing Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.

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Oath Keepers, led by Stewart Rhodes, had spent weeks planning for Jan. 6.

On Dec. 31, in group chats released as an exhibit in the seditious conspiracy prosecution of Rhodes and other leaders of the organization, one Oath Keeper cautioned other members to keep their faces hidden on Jan. 6.

“For those of you who might have less than patriot-friendly bosses or the need to keep your anonymity; ANTIFA and their sympathizers WILL try to get your photo for doxing purposes,” the person, unidentified in the messages, wrote.

That fear aligned with efforts on the right to portray violence during the 2020 racial justice protests as the product of Antifa — a group that conservative influencers cast as a shadowy, leftist collective hell bent on the destruction of America.

On May 31, 2020, six days after George Floyd’s murder, Trump Attorney General Bill Barr issued a statement condemning “riots and domestic terrorism.”

“The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” he said.

That rhetoric loomed large for both the administration and far-right activists in the weeks before Jan. 6.

“President Trump will not allow Antifa, or any terrorist organization, to destroy our great country,” the White House said in a Jan. 5 statement.

One incident that was discussed in the Oath Keepers text messages involved Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who tweeted on Jan. 4 that Antifa had besieged his northern Virgina home. Police said at the time that the protest was “peaceful.”

Hawley had paved the way days before for the certification of Biden’s win on Jan. 6 to be a laborious, drawn-out process when he became the first senator to announce that he would object to slates of electoral college votes from states that Biden won.

Oath Keepers saw Hawley’s supposed Antifa problem as their own.

“Hopefully protection is headed his way,” one Oath Keeper wrote on Jan. 5.

“Wtf. Doesnt he have security?” wrote another.

“I highly doubt he will even get it. A lot of senators are not very happy with him,” another responded.

“Groups like ours need to step up IMO,” another replied.

As Jan. 6 approached, Oath Keeper members reported skirmishes with people that they thought to be Antifa in D.C.

“III%ers cornered one,” wrote Jessica Watkins on Jan. 5. Watkins would later be charged with seditious conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, and other violations.

“He swore he wasn’t Antifa, but he was. Wearing a Guy Fawkes Anonymous mask in all Black Bloc, and his attitude screamed commie,” she wrote.

Another Oath Keeper wrote on Jan. 5: “Possible Antifa or BLM staying at our hotel. Rainbow flag rolled up…”

Others planned for the supposedly huge Antifa presence, ranks of violent leftists aimed at blocking Trump from contesting his supposed win.

“Just note that with the President Speaking on Tuesday at the eclipse, that will be a main focus for The crowds and liekly BLM/ANTIFA,” wrote one Oath Keeper on Jan. 3.

“Seeing lots of videos today of anti-patriot groups implying they are coming to DC armed to take out Trumpers FYI,” another replied.

“Confirmed intel that ‘huge numbers of Antifa are being bussed into DC,'” read one Jan. 5 text.

But when the day came, the texts show, those storming the Capitol were at a loss. Some Oath Keepers in the chats saw footage of the insurrection and immediately theorized that Antifa was responsible.

“Guys and gals …this is Fucking Antifa ! No one of our 300 there were allowed to carey backpacks or anything else ! They are Lumber !! Thos is a fucking set up,” reads one frantic Jan. 6 message.

Rhodes interjected as the day drew to a close.

“Look, I WAS THERE. I WAS RIGHT OUSIDE,” he replied. “Patriots stormed in. Not Antifa.”

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