‘Sorry for what I did’: Oath Keeper, who pleaded guilty to January 6 violation, collapses on the witness stand
“I’ll never do anything like that again,” he said. “It’s really embarrassing.”
Young’s testimony gave the jury a first-hand account of the Oath Keepers’ preparations to travel to Washington before January 6 and their decision to join the crowds that poured past the police station and into the Capitol. He is a key prosecutor’s witness in the inflammatory conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell.
The five leaders of the Oath Keepers are accused of plotting to violently oppose Donald Trump’s handover of power to Biden.
Young’s testimony marked the second time a member of the group who pleaded guilty to involvement in the conspiracy had taken a stand against his former colleagues. Jason Dolan, another Florida Oath keeper, testified earlier this month.
Dolan and Young both described struggles amid the Covid pandemic combined with a spate of pro-Trump media feeding their belief that the 2020 election had been stolen. Young described an unhealthy diet with Facebook and YouTube content, which he said was “upset” by the election results. He retired from his family and became consumed with national politics, leading him to join the Oath Keepers in the weeks following Election Day 2020. His sister, Laura Steele, a fellow Oath Keeper co-founder, is awaiting trial for her involvement in the alleged obstruction conspiracy.
Young recalled first meeting with some members of the group when he joined a security detail from Roger Stone, a longtime political adviser and Trump ally, in December 2020.
Young described feeling drained before Jan. 6 that the Oath Keepers’ anger would not be enough to bring down the 2020 election, and he raised those concerns on signal chat groups, which included other Florida Oath Keepers and Rhodes, the national leader, belonged to the group. But he said Rhodes had “revived him” by suggesting he might 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 “Stop the Steal” rally Jan. 6 before heading to the Capitol with fellow Oath Keepers. On the way he heard from Meggs that the Capitol had been breached.
“Unfortunately, for me at the time, that meant I felt like it was a Bastille moment in history, whereas in the French Revolution it was that big turning point,” Young said. “It was exciting. I felt like I was an important or integral part of what was happening.”
Young recalled speaking to Harrelson and other Oath Keepers about the “apparent police equipment.”
“They had plastic armor on, we talked about how effective or ineffective that would be against guns and firearms,” Young said.
At the time, Young said he and his sister were concerned about the group’s intentions and their potential legal exposure. The two went to Steele’s home in North Carolina, where they burned their gear, he said.
“My sister and I were totally in freakout mode and scared,” he said, adding, “That’s when the embarrassment about the whole thing started … I have to tell my mom.”
Rhodes’ attorney has questioned Young about whether any of the group’s leaders ever specifically told him to storm the Capitol or described the goals of the conspiracy. Young said he considered it an implicit plan. Young also agreed that as part of his plea negotiations with the government, he hopes to receive a relatively light sentence in exchange for his cooperation.
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