Court documents reveal a group of militia members planned their entry to the U.S. Capitol

The Washington Post story focuses on three individuals who have now been charged for their involvement in the riot. But unlike some people who may have just been following the mob, these three—Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins and Donovan Crowl— appear to have planned their entry to the Capitol in advance and discussed their progress during the riot:

U.S. authorities charged an apparent Oath Keeper leader, Thomas Edward Caldwell, 66, of Clarke County, Va., in the attack, alleging that the U.S. Navy veteran helped organize a ring of what became 30 or 40 people who “stormed the castle” to disrupt the electoral vote confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

“We have about 30-40 of us. We are sticking together and sticking to the plan,” co-defendant Jessica Watkins, 38, a U.S. Army veteran, said while the breach was underway, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

“You are executing citizen’s arrest. Arrest this assembly, we have probable cause for acts of treason, election fraud,” a man replied, according to communications recovered from her phone, the FBI alleged.

Donovan Crowl, the third person identified, was a former Marine and part of a Militia group founded by Watkins:

An FBI agent in court records said Caldwell helped organize a group of eight to 10 individuals led by Watkins, a bartender who founded the “Ohio State Regular Militia” in 2019. Members of the group are seen on video wearing helmets and military-style gear moving purposefully toward the top of the Capitol steps and leading the move against police lines, court records said.

According to this AP report the Ohio State Regular Militia is a “dues-paying subset of the Oath Keepers” and Watkins wasn’t just the founder she was the commanding officer. After leaving the Capitol she posted a video and comments on Parler describing what she’d done:

“Yeah. We stormed the Capitol today. Teargassed, the whole, 9. Pushed our way into the Rotunda. Made it into the Senate even. The news is lying (even Fox) about the Historical Events we created today,” she allegedly wrote. Watkins also posted that entry was forced through the back door of the Capitol.

There were something like 8,000 people at Trump’s speech that day and most later wound up outside the Capitol. The exact number of people who made it inside the Capitol is still unknown. At first it may have only been a couple hundred but it ultimately took police hours to get everyone out.

An unnamed official in the U.S. Attorney’s office told the Post, “Whether everyone else just happened to be there and got caught up in the moment, or if this is just the tip of the iceberg, how much this will grow at this point I can’t tell you.”

My own guess, and that’s all it is at this point, is that a lot of people in the crowd wanted to do something about stopping the action inside the Capitol to count the certified votes but few of them came with any kind of plan. And there’s some evidence to support that:

But maybe some handful of the people in that crowd did come with a plan made in advance. It certainly sounds that way. Finally, here’s a video with the most detailed breakdown I’ve seen of how the mob got inside and what they did in the early minutes once they gained illegal entry to the building: