U.S. Government Granted Permission to Unseal Jon Schaffer Capitol Riot Documents In Connection to Oath Keepers
The United States Department of Justice, on Jan. 13, indicted the leader of the Oath Keepers militia group, among others, on charges of seditious conspiracy for a coordinated attack on the Capitol Building on Jan. 6 of last year. Permission was granted to unseal documents from cases pertaining to Oath Keeper members, including Iced Earth founder Jon Schaffer, who had previously reached a plea deal for his involvement in what is now known to be a premeditated plan.
On Jan. 14, the 'United States of America vs. Jon Schaffer' motion for disclosure of "items protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e) and sealed materials" was granted in connection with the charges recently levied against Oath Keeper members Stewart Rhodes, Donovan Crowl and Jonathan Walden. The motion also "applies to the disclosure" of the related materials "to any co-defendants who may later be joined."
Rhodes is the founder of the far-right extremist Oath Keepers group, which counts amongst its members active and present law enforcement officials and military veterans. Schaffer, who was wearing an "Oath Keepers Lifetime Member" hat while present inside the Capitol, is a founding member of the organization and, as his hat suggested, he made a lifetime commitment.
The indictment on charges of seditious conspiracy named members of both the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, where it is said that the organizations engaged in combat tactics and training in a coordinated attempt to thwart the certification of Joe Biden as President of the United States. Plans for disrupting the peaceful transfer of power also called for insurgent support groups and the shuttling in of weapons from outside the city to help insurrectionists maintain control of the Capitol should they overtake it.
An explanation of the seditious conspiracy charges, which did not name Schaffer outright among the 19 defendants, can be seen quoted from the Department of Justice near the bottom of the page.
On Jan. 6 of 2021, Schaffer was among the first to breach the Capitol doors and, armed with bear mace, advanced toward Capitol Police amid a mob of other unlawful participants. Nine minutes following the breach of the interior, Schaffer exited the building after being "sprayed in the face with [an] irritant." Prior to this news coming to light, his lawyer claimed he was only in the building for 60 seconds.
Video from inside the Capitol showed Schaffer present among the mob as the broke through the Capitol doors, positioned behind other aggressors. As the police clashed with the rioters, Schaffer stood with his hand on the back of two people, who were in front of him and directly tangling with law enforcement. He is then seen extending his arm in pointing, as captured in the photograph at the top of the page.
Schaffer was initially charged with six crimes, but reached a plea deal (as reported on April 16, 2021) with the government and pled guilty to two of the charges: obstruction of an official proceeding of Congress (punishable by up to 20 years in prison) and trespassing on restricted grounds of the Capitol while armed with a deadly or dangerous weapon (punishable by up to 10 years in prison).
On April 22 of last year, he was released on bail and, over the summer, his lawyer revealed that during Schaffer's time served, he received death threats and was assaulted with feces and urine.
It is unknown if additional charges will be filed against Schaffer upon the indictment of Oath Keepers members for seditious conspiracy.
The Iced Earth founder was also one of 31 people recently named in a lawsuit filed by the Washington D.C. Attorney General for the millions of dollars spent by the city to defend against the attack on the Capitol.
Department of Justice Explanation of Seditious Conspiracy Charges Against Oath Keeper Members (read the full report here)
The seditious conspiracy indictment alleges that, following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, Rhodes conspired with his co-defendants and others to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021. Beginning in late December 2020, via encrypted and private communications applications, Rhodes and various co-conspirators coordinated and planned to travel to Washington, D.C., on or around Jan. 6, 2021, the date of the certification of the electoral college vote, the indictment alleges. Rhodes and several co-conspirators made plans to bring weapons to the area to support the operation. The co-conspirators then traveled across the country to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in early January 2021.
According to the seditious conspiracy indictment, the defendants conspired through a variety of manners and means, including: organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.; recruiting members and affiliates to participate in the conspiracy; organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons and supplies – including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection and radio equipment – to the Capitol grounds; breaching and attempting to take control of the Capitol grounds and building on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote; using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; continuing to plot, after Jan. 6, 2021, to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power, and using websites, social media, text messaging and encrypted messaging applications to communicate with co-conspirators and others.