An Oath Keepers leader arrested for participating in the Capitol riot said she met with Secret Service and was providing ‘security’ to legislators and other key figures

Oath keepers jessica watkins january 6 capitol riot siege insurrection
Jessica Marie Watkins (2nd from L) and Donovan Ray Crowl (Center), both from Ohio, march down the east front steps of the U.S. Capitol with the Oath Keepers militia group among supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. Both have since been indicted by federal authorities for their roles in the siege on the U.S. Capitol. Picture taken January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo
  • Jessica Watkins of the far-right militia Oath Keepers said she was protecting legislators during the Capitol riot. 
  • In new court filings, lawyers say Watkins met with Secret Service agents. 
  • The US Secret Service told Insider “any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false.”
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A woman arrested for her alleged participation in the January 6 riot at the US Capitol said she was at the riot to provide security to legislators and other important people and had met with Secret Service agents. 

In new court filings this weekend, lawyers for Jessica Watkins, a leader with the far-right, anti-government militia group Oath Keepers, argued that Watkins was not a participant in the insurrection but was instead working security to speakers at former President Donald Trump’s rally that preceded the insurrection that left five people dead, CNN first reported.  

“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 said.

“She was given a VIP pass to the rally,” it continued. “She met with Secret Service agents. She was within 15.24m of the stage during the rally to provide security for the speakers. At the time the Capitol was breached, she was still at the sight of the initial rally where she had provided security.”

In a statement to Insider, a spokesperson US Secret Service said it did not employ the assistance of any private citizens on January 6.

“To carry out its protective functions on January 6th, the U.S. Secret Service relied on the assistance of various government partners,” the statement said. “Any assertion that the Secret Service employed private citizens to perform those functions is false.”

In the filing, attorneys for Watkins, who has been jailed since mid-January, said she believed Trump would evoke the Insurrection Act and use the US Military to stop President Biden from assuming office. Her lawyer said she and others  “would have a role” in assisting the former president in his attempt to remain in office.  

“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’ attorney Michelle Peterson. “She took an oath to support the Constitution and had no intention of violating that oath or of committing any violent acts.”

As Insider reported Friday, nine members of the far-right Oath Keepers have been charged with conspiracy to obstruct Congress with the January 6 riot. Three, including Watkins, had previously been charged, but six new charges were announced by the Justice Department on Friday. 

Prosecutors said in the indictment Friday the defendants planned to besiege the Capitol as early as November 3 and coordinated plans on social media for weeks beforehand the insurrection in DC.

Watkins, an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan, also this weekend petitioned for release on safety grounds due to her treatment as a transgender woman. She claimed she was “treated harshly” and is at “particular risk in custody” because she is transgender.

So far, more than 250 people have been charged in the Capitol insurrection