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Oathkeepers likely hid guns in Comfort Inn ahead of Capitol Hill riot, prosecutors say


The new details flesh out previous accusations by prosecutors that members of the Oath Keepers have assembled a “rapid reaction force,” or QRF, in Virginia, which could deploy to the nation’s capital if necessary. For the first time, prosecutors have revealed photos of an alleged lawyer carrying what looks like a weapon inside the hotel where the QRF was stored – the Comfort Inn in Arlington, Virginia.

Prosecutors said Kenneth Harrelson, who has been indicted in the Oath Keepers plot, “likely provided” weapons and brought “what appears to be at least a rifle holster” to the hotel. Harrelson is one of 12 defendants in the case, the most important case related to the insurgency.

Harrelson texted a panel discussion on Jan. 5, asking for the location of the “QRF hotel,” according to court documents. Kelly Meggs, another alleged co-conspirator, said they should speak via private messages instead of group chat. Hours later, Harrelson arrived at the Comfort Inn, prosecutors said.

Harrelson and the other Oath Keepers who appeared before judges in Washington, DC, pleaded not guilty.

These are some of the more concrete details about the QRF that the Justice Department put on the court’s public record. Until now, it was not clear whether the QRF was ambitious or was a real-world effort to stockpile weapons that could be used on the streets of Washington.

Prosecutors have received text messages from Oath Keepers discussing their plans and their goal of transporting weapons across the Potomac River. Prosecutors later told a judge they believed the planning turned into action on Jan.6, with real weapons at hand in Virginia. A defense attorney claimed the QRF was a precautionary measure against potential Antifa violence.

Suburban hotel team leader Jonathan Cordero told CNN on Tuesday that he was unaware of the allegations about the Oath Keepers and that, regardless, the staff at the hotel cannot check people’s luggage.

“All we have are guests coming in and going,” Cordero said. “We don’t even know if they’re members of the Oath Keepers or anything. We can’t verify their personal membership or things like that, and we don’t know what they’re bringing. check in and people check out. “

The QRF has been mentioned several times in the Oath Keepers conspiracy case and has been a key sticking point in prosecutors’ arguments that the defendants pose a greater threat than most rioters on Capitol Hill.

Federal Judge Amit Mehta, who is overseeing the grand conspiracy case, has repeatedly asked prosecutors to provide more details on the QRF. Prosecutors have previously said they believe this is real and their investigation is ongoing, but have not disclosed as many details to the public.

Mehta kept a few of the leaders of the Oath Keepers in jail, but he also freed some of their co-defendants because he said they did not pose enough danger to the public at all times.

This story has been updated with additional details.

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