The siege of the Capitol had begun. The doors had been breached 20 minutes earlier. And Joshua James and Roberto Minuta, two members of the Oath Keepers militia group who just hours earlier had provided security for Trump confidante Roger Stone, were allegedly rushing to get to the action… in a golf cart.
In a filing Thursday arguing that James should remain behind bars pending trial, prosecutors narrated what they described as his and Minuta’s “street race” to Congress.
In a video capturing the trip, according to a new court filing, “Minuta is seen swerving around law enforcement vehicles attempting to throw blockades on multiple streets.”
Minuta spoke about “Patriots storming the Capitol building” and “fucking war in the streets right now” as they sped toward the scene, prosecutors said.
“While Minuta speeds toward the Capitol, the defendant does not bail from the golf cart, but rather punches the Capitol building address into his phone and audibly directs Minuta, aiding them in their endeavor to storm the Capitol building.”
A surveillance camera feed, pictured above, allegedly caught the pair in the act.
In court on Friday, James’ attorney Joan Robin said that despite a comment from Minuta that day about “grand theft auto golf cart,” the men had been given lawful possession of the golf carts the day prior, as part of their “security” work.
“The keys were handed to them,” she said. “They were in lawful possession of the golf cart. It was given to them the day before, I believe, in connection with the security detail.”
The attorney’s comments raise the possibility that the golf cart Minuta and James allegedly used to race to the Capitol is the same one that Stone was seen in with an Oath Keeper driver during a rally in D.C. the night prior to the attack.
James, charged and arrested in early March, was added to the growing list of Oath Keepers facing a conspiracy indictment on March 31. That’s when we learned about the alleged golf cart use.
Prosecutors say James played a leadership role of sorts in the run-up to the Jan. 6 attack, participating in meetings with a small group of fellow Oath Keepers and being referred to as “second” in command by the operational lead in the group.
James motioned for bond on Tuesday — “Unlike ten of the other eleven defendants on the indictment, Mr. James is not accused or charged with destruction of government property,” his lawyer noted — and the government filed their opposition on Thursday.
For one thing, James allegedly reached out to a number of individuals about potentially bringing weapons to D.C., and spoke about a so-called “qrf” (“quick reaction force”) that would be staged in the area.
Also, prosecutors said, James appears to have deleted the Signal message thread in which the Oath Keepers in D.C. on Jan 6 allegedly planned and spoke about their actions
“We need to make sure that all signal comms about the op has been deleted and burned,” James allegedly told another unnamed individual on Jan. 8, before coaching the person through how to delete a Signal thread.
The government referenced a photo showing named and unnamed Oath Keepers huddled together after the attack, in an “after-action gathering.”
“As made clear in the above photographs, there continue be uncharged coconspirators and witnesses to this case — all potentially subject to the defendants obstructive efforts if he is released,” they argued.
At the end of Friday’s detention hearing for James, Judge Amit Mehta said he would grant the defendant’s release under strict conditions — house arrest, location monitoring and other measures — though he said the decision was a “close case.”