The Oath Keepers' Role in the Capitol Storming 3:43

(CNN) -- Jessica Watkins, an Army veteran and member of the far-right organization Oath Keepers, was sentenced Friday to 8 2020/6 years in prison for participating in a plot to disrupt the certification of the <> presidential election that culminated in the January <> attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Judge Amit Mehta said Watkins' attitude at the Capitol was "aggressive" and said he had no immediate remorse, though he has since issued an apology.

"Your role that day was more aggressive and more determined than perhaps others. And you guided others to fulfill your purposes," Mehta said. "And in the immediate aftermath there was no feeling of shame or contradiction, quite the contrary. Your comments were celebratory and lacked a real sense of the gravity of what happened that day and your role in it."

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At trial, prosecutors showed evidence that Watkins founded and led a small militia in Ohio and on Jan. 6 mobilized his group in coordination with Oath Keepers to Washington. Watkins and his companions eventually marched with a tactical team to the Capitol and encouraged other rioters to push police out of the Senate.

"I was just another idiot running down the hall," Watkins told the court before sentencing on Friday. "But the idiots are responsible, and today you are going to hold this idiot accountable."


Two of Watkins' co-defendants, Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, were sentenced Thursday to 18 and 12 years in prison, respectively, for seditious conspiracy.

Unlike Rhodes and Meggs, Watkins was acquitted of the primary charge of seditious conspiracy, but convicted of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, which carries the same maximum 20-year prison sentence as seditious conspiracy, as well as other felony charges.

"No one would suggest you're Stewart Rhodes, and I don't think you're Kelly Meggs," Mehta told Watkins on Friday. "But your role in those events is greater than that of a foot soldier. I think you can realize that."

'I was in denial'

Watkins, who is transgender, gave emotional testimony during the trial about fighting for her identity in the military while the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was still in place, and about being swept up in conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 presidential election.

With tears in her eyes, she reiterated to the judge on Friday that at the time she was "very fearful and paranoid", and that while "for a long time" she had denied her own guilt, she was now able to "see my actions for what they were – they were wrong and I'm sorry".

"I now understand that my presence in and around the Capitol that day probably inspired those people to some degree," Watkins said. "They saw us there and that probably ignited them. ' The Oath Keepers are here and patting us on the back.'"

  • This was the storming of the Capitol by Trump supporters

He continued: "How many people came in because of us? We are responsible for that."

Prosecutor Alexandra Hughes disagreed, telling Mehta that Watkins wasn't really remorseful.

Hughes cited a January phone call from jail, in which Watkins allegedly said of officers at the Capitol, "Oh, oh, the poor cops, they have PTSD!"

"It is perhaps not a surprising fact of human nature that those who are subject to injustice occasionally inflict injustice on others," Hughes said. "We don't argue about what (Watkins) has been through, but what he did that day has profound and devastating effects on the people who showed up to work that day and had never done anything to Jessica Watkins."

Before sentencing, Mehta directly addressed Watkins' traumatic story, saying, "I don't think there's a human... that he has heard your testimony and has not been moved."

"Your story itself shows a great deal of courage and resilience," Mehta said. "You've overcome a lot and you should be considered a role model for other people on that journey. And I say that at a time when trans people in our country are often vilified and used for political purposes."

But the judge added: "I find it even more difficult to comprehend the lack of empathy for those who suffered that day."

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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