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Oath Keepers Plotting Before Capitol Riot Awaited ‘Direction’ From Trump, Prosecutors Say


Days before the riot, prosecutors say, Mr. Caldwell reached out to a contact associated with another group, the Three Percenters, an extremist gun rights militia that takes its name from the supposed three percent of the U.S. colonial population that fought the British Army. In a text message, Mr. Caldwell suggested finding a boat that “could handle a Potomac crossing” and could carry a “Quick Response Team” with “heavy weapons” to militia members already at the Capitol.

Mr. Caldwell asked a federal judge to release him from custody this week, saying he was an injured Navy veteran with more than 30 years of experience with top-secret matters. He also noted that while he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, he was not part of the “stack” of Oath Keepers in tactical military gear that physically breached the building.

In the papers filed on Thursday, prosecutors countered that that hardly mattered given that Mr. Caldwell was “a key figure who put into motion the violence that overwhelmed the Capitol.” They noted that in his text messages he described killing and mutilating people who held views that opposed his and referred to political adversaries as “socialists,” “savages,” “maggots” and “cockroaches.”

When federal agents searched Mr. Caldwell’s house in Virginia last month, they discovered a document titled “Death List” that contained the name of an unidentified election official from another state, prosecutors said. The agents also found a pistol that was “intentionally built to look like a cellphone,” prosecutors say.

In a search of Ms. Watkins’s home, court papers say, agents discovered numerous firearms, a paintball gun, pool cues cut down to “baton size,” plastic zip ties and a recipe for making “a destructive device.”

Prosecutors say Ms. Watkins may have had this arsenal because she believed the prospect of Joseph R. Biden Jr. becoming president was “an existential threat.”

“Biden may still be our president,” she wrote in a text message on Nov. 17. “If he is, our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights.”

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