By ALEXANDER MALLIN, OLIVIA RUBIN and WILL STEAKIN, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — In a new court filing Wednesday in the government’s conspiracy case against Oath Keepers members who stormed the U.S. Capitol, federal prosecutors revealed a previously undisclosed message from one of the group’s members in which they discussed an “alliance” between three separate far-right groups that planned to travel to Washington on Jan. 6.
“Well we are ready for the rioters, this week I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3%ers, and Proud Boys,” prosecutors say Kelly Meggs, 52, wrote on his Facebook on Dec. 19. “We have decided to work together and shut this sh*t down.”
The FBI has charged multiple members of the Proud Boys in a separate conspiracy case alleging coordination in the attack on the Capitol. The group has been described by investigators as a “a nationalist organization with multiple U.S. chapters and potential activity in other Western countries.” The ‘3%ers’ or ‘Three Percenters’ are described by the FBI as a far-right anti-government militia group who believe a myth that only three percent of American colonists took up arms to overthrow the British in the American Revolutionary War.
Wednesday’s filing appears to be the first evidence of possible direct coordination between members of the groups before Jan. 6.
Later messages flagged by prosecutors in the filing sent by Meggs show him discussing making “contact with PB,” an apparent reference to the Proud Boys, who he said “always have a big group,” then adding, “Force multiplier.”
In a Dec. 25 conversation on Facebook, Meggs provided a “provisions” list to an unidentified person, telling them to bring “mace, gas mask, baton, plate carrier” and discussed coordination with a leader of the Proud Boys.
Meggs also said he expected Oath Keepers would be providing security for an individual in Washington on Jan. 6 whose name is redacted from the filing.
Investigators have said they are still working to find evidence of any advance planning by groups or individuals to mount an assault on the Capitol. Communications revealed in Capitol rioter cases thus far have shown that while many individuals coordinated and planned to come to Washington prepared for violence to break out, it’s not clear whether the Capitol was always the expected target.
According to the messages revealed by prosecutors, Meggs repeatedly discussed his belief that former President Donald Trump’s tweets and remarks leading up to Jan. 6 were a call to arms for his supporters — specifically in a Dec. 26 message stating his belief that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act via ther emergency broadcast system when all his supporters had convened in Washington.
The filing also tracks Meggs’ communications regarding a possible “Quick Reaction Force” of heavily armed Oath Keepers stationed just outside of Washington who would be activated in the event violence erupted.
Meggs will appear in court this Friday at 4 p.m. as a judge considers his request for pre-trial release from detention. He has pleaded not guilty all charges.
The newly revealed messages follow a contentious hearing on Tuesday, during which the federal judge overseeing the case blasted the Justice Department over recent media appearances discussing their investigation — including former Acting U.S Attorney Michael Sherwin’s “60 minutes” interview, and a recent New York Times article reporting on possible upcoming sedition charges.
Judge Amit Mehta said he was “surprised”and “troubled”by both of the disclosures, and warned prosecutors on the case that he “would not hesitate”to issue gag orders or sanctions against specific attorneys if it continues.
“No matter how much press attention this matter gets, let me be clear that these defendants are entitled to a fair trial and not one that is conducted in the media,”Judge Mehta said. “These types of statements in the media have the potential of affecting the jury pool and the rights of these defendants. And the government, quite frankly, in my view should know better.”
Notably, the head of the U.S Attorney’s Criminal Division in D.C., John Crabb, said Sherwin’s interview appeared to violate DOJ rules and has already been referred to DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
The New York Times article has also been referred for investigation to “determine where the information came from,”Crabb added, though he said he had no reason to believe any of the trial attorneys were involved.
A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment. The US attorney’s office in the Southern District of Florida, where Sherwin was set to return following his departure from the D.C. office, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sherwin also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
During the hearing, a number of the Oath Keepers’ defense attorneys also expressed their concern about the interview and statements within it they said they found “prejudicial. “Many said they were contacted by “60 Minutes” several times for interviews or comment but turned it down.
“My client is extremely concerned because quite frankly he has borne the brunt of the media coverage,” said the defense lawyer for Thomas Caldwell, who prosecutors say was a leader among Oath Keepers members present at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
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