One of the members of the far-right Oath Keepers who’ve been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection to the Capitol insurrection pleaded guilty on Wednesday, making him the first Jan. 6 defendant to admit to those more serious charges.
Joshua James, a 33-year-old military veteran from Arab, Alabama who leads the Oath Keepers’ Alabama chapter, pleaded guilty to one count of seditious conspiracy and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding during his hearing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Wednesday.
Prosecutors filed a statement of offense on Wednesday, which laid out the government’s latest evidence of not just James’ role in the Capitol attack, but that of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, who’s also been charged with sedition.
According to the filing, James met with Rhodes and others on Nov. 14 and 15 in 2020 and learned about the leader’s alleged plans to forcefully block the transfer of power between Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden.
Rhodes, James and the other Oath Keepers discussed their plans via invitation-only encrypted group chats on Signal, one of which allegedly showed Rhodes declaring on Dec. 11 that if Biden were to take office, “it will be a bloody and desperate fight,” according to the prosecutors.
When James and his fellow Oath Keepers traveled to D.C. two days before the insurrection, he stashed his firearms at the hotel he, Rhodes and the others were staying at in Virginia, the document said.
After James left the Capitol building during the attack, he allegedly met with Rhodes and “other co-conspirators” outside, where, according to prosecutors, Rhodes said he was glad James and the others had breached the Capitol.
Later that day, James went to the Olive Garden where Rhodes’ lawyers say the Oath Keepers had gathered after giving up hope that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act. During the meeting, Rhodes allegedly discussed disrupting Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 by having people openly carry firearms at state capitols around the country, according to the statement of offense.
Apparently believing that the authorities were coming after him, Rhodes allegedly divvied up between three cars what James estimated to be thousands of dollars’ worth of firearms and ammunition in the leader’s vehicle before the group left the area, the prosecutors said.
On Jan. 8, James traveled to Texas to stay with Rhodes and serve as his security and to prepare for the leader’s next instructions. James stayed there until February, according to the document. During that time, prosecutors say Rhodes gave James a burner phone and didn’t allow him or the other Oath Keepers to keep their phones on whenever they talked about the 2020 election.
James also went on multiple shopping trips with Rhodes in which the leader bought “thousands of dollars’ worth of firearms and tactical equipment, including scopes, ammunition, magazines, bipods, duffel bags, holsters, and firearm-maintenance equipment,” the filing stated.
According to prosecutors, Rhodes allegedly ordered James to take firearms, ammunition, burner phones and other equipment back home to Alabama, prepare to distribute it among other Oath Keepers – and prepare for violence in the event of a civil war.
Under his plea agreement, James is required to fully cooperate with federal, state and local authorities, which includes providing sworn testimony, a full accounting of his financial assets and all the evidence he has.
James also must pay $2,000 in restitution to the Treasury Department for the damages he caused at the Capitol building during the attack.
Read the government’s statement of offense below:
Read the plea agreement below: