Oath Keeper Pleads Guilty to Seditious Conspiracy, Will Cooperate With Justice Department

A regional leader of the Oath Keepers charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol has pleaded guilty to two charges in federal court.

Joshua James was charged with a range of counts from seditious conspiracy to assaulting and resisting officers. On Wednesday, James pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. The other charges were dismissed.

The seditious conspiracy indictment alleged James and several others conspired to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021.

The plea deal includes his commitment to assist prosecutors. 

James had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Federal authorities describe James as the regional leader in charge of the Alabama chapter of the Oath Keepers. The Oath Keepers are 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.

The seditious conspiracy indictment alleged that, following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, James other co-defendants and others conspired to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021.

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.

According to court documents, on Jan. 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.

On Jan. 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. Inside the Rotunda, James assaulted a Metropolitan Police Department officer 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.

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.

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