It is not clear if Meggs was referring to pro-Trump rallies the previous week on Dec. 12 in Washington and Miami. But a week later, Meggs allegedly said he has “orchestrated a plan with the proud boys” for Jan. 6.
The Proud Boys, “always have a big group,” and could act as a “force multiplier,” he added, according to the memo from prosecutors.
The discussion centered not on invading the Capitol but on attacking left-wing “antifa” supporters in case Trump called in the military or Republican lawmakers otherwise blocked the certification of Biden’s election victory. According to the court documents, Meggs suggested that the Oath Keepers wait until police had separated the Proud Boys from left-wing activists. Then, he said, “we will come in behind antifa and beat the hell out of them.”
“Wait for the 6th when we are all in DC to insurrection,” Meggs advised another recruit, warning another on Jan. 3, “Tell your friend this isn’t a Rally!!”
Over 20 members of the Proud Boys and at least 13 Oath Keepers have been charged with crimes connected to the Capitol breach.
Details of the alleged coordination between of the two groups come as prosecutors accuse dozens of preplanning to obstruct Congress’s confirmation of the 2020, and have sought evidence of any wider conspiracy involving people not present at the Capitol or effort to oppose federal authority by force. Both groups used encrypted chats to organize their actions on Jan. 6, according to prosecutors; one Proud Boys is quoted as saying to stop any “planning” because they might “be looking at gang charges.”
Though the groups involved use paramilitary lingo and gear, experts say they are unstructured collections of like-minded radicals. Defense attorneys have argued their actions at the Capitol were largely spontaneous.
An attorney for Meggs did not immediately respond to a request for comment but said in a recent filing that despite the “inflammatory language,” his client is not accused of any “direct acts of violence.” Meggs, he said, “never served in the military nor has he undergone any paramilitary training.”
Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio has denied that the group organized violence at the Capitol. A federal judge has questioned assertions from prosecutors that members of the Proud Boys had a “strategic plan” to invade the Capitol.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was in Washington and outside the Capitol after the breach on Jan. 6 but has said he did not tell his members to attack Congress, and did not want them to.
The Oath Keepers members who allegedly went into the U.S. Capitol “went totally off mission,” Rhodes said last month in an interview.
“We had no plan to enter the Capitol, zero plan to do that, zero instructions to do that,” Rhodes said.
Meggs and co-defendants were allegedly part of a line of Oath Keepers members wearing helmets and tactical gear who moved purposefully up Capitol steps and “forcibly entered the building through the Rotunda door,” prosecutors said.
According to the detention memo prosecutors filed Tuesday, the text messages also indicate that Meggs was not expecting violence until “it starts getting dark.” At rallies in support of then-President Donald Trump in November and December in D.C., members of the Proud Boys clashed with counterprotesters at night. During the day, Meggs said, his group would be “guarding” people.
Both Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have worked as security for longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone, whose name has appeared repeatedly in court documents related to the Capitol riot. The week before Dec. 19, Meggs, his wife, and a third Florida Oath Keepers interacted with Stone at a book signing before a pro-Trump rally in Largo, Fla., according to a photograph included by prosecutors in a court filing and contemporaneous reporting of Stone’s whereabouts. Another photograph shared on Facebook on Dec. 13 and forwarded to the FBI appears to show Meggs posing with Stone outside his Fort Lauderdale home, according to two people familiar with the image who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.
Prosecutors are probing potential ties between those involved in the attack and high-profile right-wing figures who may have influenced them, including Stone and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, according to people familiar with the investigation. Both Stone and Jones have both said they have had no role in the breach of the Capitol.
While the groups allegedly worked together on Jan. 6, they come from different strains of the far right. The Oath Keepers movement, which recruits heavily among military veterans, was founded in 2009 by a Yale Law School graduate and former Army paratrooper who believed only armed militias could keep the United States from becoming a police state. During protests against racial discrimination last summer, members of the group vowed to protect private property. The all-male Proud Boys, started in 2016 by a Canadian magazine writer, promotes a generally “pro-Western” ideology and is best known for its raucous and violent behavior.
Meggs, according to prosecutors, wore an Oath Keepers badge with the motto, “Not On Our Watch,” but another that read, “I don’t believe in anything. I’m just here for the violence.”