Former President Donald Trump’s political confidant Roger Stone made cameos in a pair of court filings on Thursday related to Oath Keepers accused of participating in the Capitol riot.
In one filing, prosecutors included a photo meant to tie two alleged Oath Keepers accused of conspiracy to one another – and the photo showed them apparently standing next to Stone at an event to promote his books.
In another court filing, two others in the right-wing paramilitary group who are accused of storming the US Capitol discussed via text message being Stone’s security in Washington around January 6.
The relationship between Stone and the Oath Keepers – and that they provided security for Stone’s events in DC before the insurrection – has become a recurring theme in the Capitol riot court cases. Both the court filings mentioning Stone on Thursday came in the most prominent conspiracy case against several Oath Keeper members.
Stone has denied knowing of any plans to storm the Capitol or commit crimes.
The glimmers on Thursday about Stone – who received a presidential pardon for lying to Congress in part to protect Trump and became a primary pusher of disinformation about the 2016 and 2020 elections to Trump’s backers – add to a growing list of how he has connected in recent years with pro-Trump extremist groups accused of coordinating the January 6 attack.
Oath Keepers members have positioned some of their defense strategy around recasting themselves as peacekeepers aligned with law enforcement before and during the siege, rather than the revolutionary-minded militants that prosecutors have alleged. Watkins, for instance, previously claimed in court that she had been empowered by event organizers to escort VIPs and others to and from the pro-Trump rallies and march to the Capitol, and another alleged Oath Keeper said last week that he had been a driver for Stone the day before the attack.
The defenses of several alleged Capitol rioters have played into questions that members of Congress have raised about the culpability of the then-President and right-wing political personas who spoke to the crowd just before the violent siege.
If Trump’s rally “was held to draw persons to DC for the purpose of obstructing the count of the electoral college votes of the states, then one would expect that those prominent national officials would stand charged for their incitement of violence and as leaders and organizers or aiders and abettors in the conspiracy,” Oath Keeper defendant Donovan Crowl’s defense attorney wrote in a court filing on Thursday. No political officials or speakers at the rally have been charged with crimes.
The disclosures of the text messages and the prosecutors’ use of the photo on Thursday come as investigators continue their search for rioters and build their case against the Oath Keepers. Prosecutors allege that a coalition of ex-military and ex-law enforcement Trump supporters prepared and coordinated for the attack, discussing basic training and an arsenal of weapons that could back them up, then executed a military-style formation to cut through the crowd and disrupt Congress’ certification of the presidential election.
The investigation is still in its earliest stages, and the court filings come as the defendants make requests to be released from jail as they await trial.
Book signing photo
The photo that prosecutors made public in court on Thursday shows at least two alleged Oath Keepers, Connie Meggs and Graydon Young, along with a man who is wearing the same distinctive style of suit that Stone often wears. The group is posing in front of several books written by Stone, about the Bush family, Richard Nixon and Trump. Prosecutors called the event that Meggs and Young attended a book signing. Young has pleaded not guilty to charges he faces, and Meggs is awaiting proceedings in Washington’s federal court.
Prosecutors wrote: “Defendant Meggs obviously was acquainted with other members of the Oath Keepers group who stormed the Capitol with her on January 6; the photo below, which was shared on Facebook on December 15, 2020, shows Defendant Meggs (red oval) posing at a book signing with several other individuals, including co-defendant Graydon Young (green oval).”
The group appears to be posing for the photo inside a replica version of the Oval Office.
Stone declined to comment about the photo when asked by CNN.
Texting about Stone
A separate filing from a defense lawyer said that Oath Keeper conspiracy defendants Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl had texted about acting as Stone’s security before the insurrection.
Watkins told Crowl on January 1 that they would act as security for Stone “if we end up rolling with the Oathkeepers,” then referred to a plan to be “private security details” in Washington, according to the filing from Crowl’s lawyer on Thursday.
Crowl repeated the idea to another person via text that he would be protecting Stone in DC, according to his court filing. “Will be in DC Tuesday and Wednesday. Part of Roger Stone’s Oathkeeper security detail. Should be fun,” Crowl wrote.
Crowl and Watkins are both seeking to be released from jail pending trial. They maintain they were not violent on January 6 and would not be dangerous if released. They have pleaded not guilty.
Also on Thursday, Watkins told the court that she’s losing her home and the bar she runs in Ohio.