‘I’m sorry for what I did’: Oath Keeper who pleaded guilty to violation on Jan. 6 breaks down on the stand
“I won’t do anything like that again,” he said. “It’s really embarrassing.”
Young’s testimony provided jurors with a first-hand account of the Oath Keepers’ preparations to travel to Washington before Jan. 6 and their decision to join the crowd that came to police and the Capitol. . He is one of the prosecutors’ key witnesses in the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell.
The five Oath Keeper leaders are charged with conspiring to violently oppose the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Biden.
Young’s testimony was the second time a member of the group who pleaded guilty to participating in the conspiracy took the stand against his former colleagues. Jason Dolan, another sworn in Florida, testified earlier this month.
Dolan and Young described struggles amid the Covid pandemic, combined with a deluge of pro-Trump media that fueled their beliefs that the 2020 election was rigged. Young described an unhealthy diet of Facebook and YouTube content that he said left him “grumpy” about the election results. He withdrew from his family and became consumed by national politics, which led him to join the Oath Keepers in the weeks following Election Day 2020. His sister, Laura Steele, a fellow Oath Keeper, is awaiting trial for his part in the alleged obstruction conspiracy. .
Young recalled the first meeting of some members of the group when he joined a security detail for Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser and Trump ally, in December 2020.
Young described feeling deflated as January 6 approached, that the anger of the Oath Keepers would not be enough to overturn the 2020 election, and raised these concerns in Signal chat groups that they include other Florida Oath Keepers and Rhodes, the group’s national leader. But he said Rhodes “re-galvanized” him by suggesting he could have a direct line of contact with Trump and urging the group to take a stand in Washington.
In Washington, Young joined a security detail for one of the speakers at Trump’s Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally before heading to the Capitol with other Oath Keepers. On the way, he heard from Meggs that the Capitol had been breached.
“Unfortunately for me, at the time, it meant that I felt like a watershed moment in history, where in the French Revolution it was that big turning point,” Young said. “It was exhilarating. I felt like I was going to be an important part or an integral part of what was going on.”
Young recalled talking with Harrelson and other Oath Keepers about “the apparent equipment that the police had been using.”
“They had on the plastic armor covering, we talked about how effective or ineffective it would be against weapons, firearms,” Young said.
At this point, Young said he and his sister began to feel concerned about the group’s intentions and their potential legal exposure. The two left for Steele’s home in North Carolina, where they burned his gear, he said.
“My sister and I were definitely in freakout mode and scared,” he said, adding: “That’s when the embarrassment of everything came up … I had to tell my mom.”
Rhodes’ attorney asked Young if any of the group’s leaders ever explicitly told him to storm the Capitol or described the objectives of the conspiracy. Young said he sees it as an implicit plan. Young also agreed that as part of his plea negotiations with the government, he hopes to receive a relatively lenient sentence in exchange for his cooperation.
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