Oath Keepers FBI Interviews Contradict Indictment Charges
Oath Keepers FBI Interviews Contradict Indictment Charges

Joseph M. Hanneman

An Indiana Oath Keepers leader who was in charge of security operations for the group in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 24 on five counts related to violence at the U.S. Capitol.

Michael Greene, 39, of Indianapolis, was arrested in Indiana on a warrant from Washington. An indictment unsealed June 24 charges Greene with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding (aiding and abetting), conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and tampering with documents or proceedings (aiding and abetting).

Greene was added to a superseding indictment against seven other Oath Keepers, including Donovan Crowl, Sandra Parker, Bennie Parker, Laura Steele, Connie Meggs, William Isaacs, and James Beeks.

Greene, who also goes by the name Michael Simmons, is not accused of seditious conspiracy, a charge leveled in a different indictment against nine Oath Keepers, including the group’s founder, Elmer Stewart Rhodes III.

Rhodes and his eight co-defendants were named in the latest 13-count superseding indictment unsealed in Washington, also on June 24. The other defendants in the seditious conspiracy case include Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel, Thomas Caldwell, and Edward Vallejo.

The overarching cases against the Oath Keepers allege the group conspired to prevent the counting of Electoral College votes by a joint session of the U.S. Congress at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The goal, according to federal prosecutors, was to keep then-President Donald J. Trump in office and prevent Joseph R. Biden Jr. from assuming the presidency.

All of the current 17 Oath Keepers defendants have pleaded not guilty to all charges. Defense attorneys say the indictments are a vast misreading and twisting of communications between group members who came to Washington to do nothing more than keep event participants safe from attacks by Antifa radicals.

“At 1:42 p.m. on January 6, Greene sent a text message to an acquaintance stating, ‘Storming the capital’ (sic) along with a photograph that depicted the advancing mob on the west side of the Capitol grounds,” the Department of Justice stated in a news release. “Greene communicated with Rhodes and others during the afternoon. At about 3:09 p.m., Greene texted an acquaintance, ‘Congress evacuated.’”

FBI Notes Contradict Indictments

Greene’s indictment surprised some case observers, coming nearly 13 months after he was interviewed by FBI agents regarding his participation with the Oath Keepers at events in various cities. As a key leader at the D.C. events on Jan. 6, his input cited in the FBI reports contradicts much of what is alleged against Rhodes and other Oath Keepers defendants.

According to the FBI’s case notes from interviews with Greene on May 4 and May 25, 2021, he told agents there was no Oath Keepers plan to attack the U.S. Capitol. His role on Jan. 6 was to oversee security for speakers at various events at or near the Capitol, he said. Oath Keepers who entered the Capitol building did not do so at his instruction or that of Rhodes, he told agents.

Greene, who was identified in the redacted FBI notes as “Person 10,” told agents his job “was providing VIP security at select stages … where ‘protectees’ would be giving speeches.”

“The security detail encompassed stage security and the protection of those individuals as they returned to their vehicles,” the FBI report said. “Person 10 cited the need for this protection after the Trump rally in December [2020] when individuals had been attacked by Antifa as they were leaving the rally.”

Greene was standing with Rhodes near a downed fence on the northeast side of the Capitol during part of the afternoon of Jan. 6, the report said. “Person 10 learned afterwards OKs had entered the U.S. Capitol, however, advised no plan by the OKs included anyone going inside the U.S. Capitol.”

In his FBI interviews, Greene said the message he sent out stating “they have taken ground at the capital” was an effort to get the Oath Keepers to regroup and leave the area of the Capitol building.

An Oath Keepers member gets in between a protester and a Capitol Police officer during a tense exchange in the Small House Rotunda on Jan. 6, 2021. (Stephen Horn/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Greene also told FBI agents that no Oath Keepers assaulted any law enforcement personnel or forced their way into the Capitol. “Person 10 heard the door was open and the group walked in,” the FBI report said.

One group of Oath Keepers climbed the east steps of the Capitol below the historic Columbus Doors and went inside the Rotunda. Some of those Oath Keepers intervened in a potentially deadly standoff between a U.S. Capitol Police officer and a group of angry protesters inside the Small House Rotunda, witnesses reported.

Oath Keepers Prevent Shooting?

“Meggs allegedly told Person 10 that Meggs entered the U.S. Capitol to assist police, and those OKs who went inside assisted a police officer who was being surrounded by the crowd,” the FBI report said.

Video shot by independent journalist Stephen Horn shows Oath Keepers standing between the police officer and protesters. During the chaotic scene, a man was heard saying, “Kill everybody, right?” A female voice responded shortly after, “We don’t want to kill anybody. We want answers. We don’t want to kill anybody. We just want answers.”

In an interview with The Epoch Times in March, Rhodes said Meggs reported the Capitol Police officer was in a shooting stance and likely mere seconds away from firing on protesters in the small rotunda.

Another group of Oath Keepers ascended the east Capitol steps on Jan. 6 at the request of U.S. Capitol Police Lt. Tarik Johnson, who asked them to help rescue a group of officers trapped in the Capitol. The Oath Keepers later emerged and escorted 16 officers in riot gear out of the Capitol. The rescue operation was documented by amateur filmmaker Rico La Starza.

Capitol Police Lt. Tarik Johnson and two members of the Oath Keepers enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to rescue 17 trapped police officers. (Rico La Starza, Archive.org/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Prosecutors allege in the Oath Keepers indictments that a group of Oath Keepers remained on standby in Virginia as a “Quick Reaction Force” (QRF) to assist with an attack on the Capitol. Greene told FBI agents, however, that was not the purpose of the QRF.

“Person 10 advised if utilized, the purpose of the QRF would have been to evacuate ‘protectees,’ the injured and/or assist in the extraction of OKs if attacked by Antifa or others,” the report said.

Greene said neither he nor Rhodes mentioned bringing weapons into Washington or using boats in a Quick Reaction Force operation. No Oath Keepers are charged with possessing firearms at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

According to the report, Greene told FBI agents there was never an Oath Keepers discussion to take violent action on Jan. 6 or later if the presidential election “did not produce the desired result.”

Greene said there was no planning for Oath Keepers to incite rioting or forcibly enter the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. There was also no planning to disrupt the transition of the presidency from Trump to Biden, Greene said, according to the report.

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