The latest hearing by the House select committee investigating last year’s Capitol riot is expected to include testimony from Jason Van Tatenhove, a onetime spokesman for the far-right Oath Keepers militia group as well as one of the rioters.
Van Tatenhove was not working for the Oath Keepers at the time of the riot and reportedly has not been associated with the organization since 2016.
Ayres pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct last month after surveillance footage showed him in the Capitol on Jan 6.
Jason Van Tatenhove: Why is he testifying in the Jan. 6 hearings?
According to Jason Van Tatenhove, the reason he’s testifying is “to give a historical precedence to this group and how they have radicalized.”
His role as the group’s national media director began in 2014 and lasted for about two years, Van Tatenhove told the Fox affiliate, so he was not associated with the group at the time of the attack on the Capitol. Now working as an independent journalist, he said he’s “purged” his connections to extremism.
The Oath Keepers is “one of the largest far-right antigovernment groups” in the U.S., according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Recruitment efforts target ex-military and law enforcement officers, and members have participated in armed standoffs and violent protests, the SPLC said.
In January, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and 10 other members were indicted on seditious conspiracy charges for attempting to overthrow the government on Jan. 6. Three members have pleaded guilty to the charges, while Rhodes has pleaded not guilty. According to the Jan. 6 committee, Rhodes told members to “stock up on ammo” and prepare for a “full-on war in the streets.”
Rhodes has also offered to testify to the Jan. 6 committee if he can do so live and in-person, instead of from jail, where he is awaiting trial. The committee has not responded to his request.
Van Tatenhove has spoken with the Jan. 6 committee at least twice, Fox 31 reported, and is expected to testify in-person at the Jan. 6 committee’s July 12 hearing, which will focus on the role of violent extremist groups during the Capitol siege and former President Donald Trump’s December 2020 tweet encouraging supporters to come to Washington for a “big protest.”