From The Tribune staff reports
WASHINGTON — An Arab, Alabama man who acted as a regional leader of the Oath Keepers has pleaded guilty today to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding for his actions before, during, and after the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
According to the United States Department of Justice, Joshua James, 34, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in connection with the Capitol breach. James has agreed to cooperate with the government’s ongoing investigation as part of the plea agreement.
His and others’ actions disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress convened to ascertain and count the electoral votes related to the presidential election.
The DOJ characterizes the Oath Keepers as “a large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias. Though the Oath Keepers will accept anyone as members, they explicitly focus on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement, and first-responder personnel.”
In his guilty plea, James, a military veteran, admitted that, from November 2020 through January 2021, he conspired with other Oath Keeper members and affiliates to use force to prevent, hinder and delay the execution of the laws of the United States governing the transfer of presidential power. He admitted to using encrypted and private communications, equipped himself with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and was prepared to answer a call to take up arms.
According to court documents, on January 4, 2021, James and others traveled to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. He brought a semi-automatic handgun and stored multiple firearms at a Virginia hotel. Then, on January 6, after learning the Capitol had been breached, James and others traveled to the Capitol on golf carts, driving around multiple barricades, including marked law enforcement vehicles. James was wearing a backpack, a combat shirt, tactical gloves, boots, a paracord attachment, and an Oath Keepers hat and patches.
He and others unlawfully entered the Capitol together through the East Rotunda doors. James assaulted a Metropolitan Police Department officer inside the Rotunda by grabbing the officer’s vest and pulling him towards the mob. While pulling the officer, James yelled, “Get out of my Capitol! This is not yours! This is my Capitol!”
James was expelled by law enforcement, including at least one officer who aimed chemical spray at him.
On the evening of January 6, 2021, James and others heard that law enforcement was searching for them and immediately departed the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Soon after, James traveled to Texas to join with the leader of the Oath Keepers and other co-conspirators. There, he helped co-conspirators amass thousands of dollars worth of firearms, ammunition, and firearms equipment — some of which he later stored in storage sheds in Alabama — and prepared to distribute the equipment to others and to engage in violence in the event of a civil war.
James was arrested on March 9, 2021.
He was among 11 defendants indicted on January 12, 2022, in the District of Columbia on seditious conspiracy and other charges; the others have pleaded not guilty.
James faces up to 20 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and up to 20 years for obstruction of an official proceeding, along with potential financial penalties. No sentencing date was set. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
In the 13 months since January 6, more than 750 individuals have been arrested in nearly all 50 states for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 235 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement. The investigation remains ongoing.