Who is Oath Keepers spokesperson Jason Van Tatenhove?
The House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol will hear testimony on Tuesday from a former spokesperson for the far-right militia group Oath Keepers, Jason Van Tatenhove.
The panel plans to focus its hearing on Tuesday in part on the role of far-right extremist groups leading up to and on that day.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on the rare count of seditious conspiracy for his role in the attack.
The House panel also showed evidence last month that Rhodes and the leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, met secretly in an abandoned parking garage prior to Jan. 6. Tarrio was also charged with seditious conspiracy.
Here’s what we know about Van Tatenhove.
Who is Van Tatenhove?
Van Tatenhove, 47, is a longtime Colorado resident and former tattoo shop owner. He met the Oath Keepers in 2014 while covering the Bundy Ranch episode, shortly after he moved to Montana.
That year, the Oath Keepers joined others in supporting Nevada rancher Clive Bundy, who gained national attention after he refused to pay fees owed to the federal government. The fees were owed because Bundy’s cattle were grazing on public land adjacent to his own.
When the government announced it would move to seize his cattle, Bundy called on armed Americans to support him.
The government eventually backed down and the Oath Keepers, which had formed in 2009, gained notoriety after the incident. Van Tatenhove had impressed Rhodes during the standoff and was quickly hired.
Van Tatenhove told the Denver Post he originally joined the Oath Keepers as something of an embed to document and tell the narrative of a militia group, similar to how revered journalist and writer Hunter S. Thompson captured the story of the Hell’s Angels biker group in the late ’60s.
Instead, Van Tatenhove ended up writing blog posts, running the group’s social media account and talking to reporters on behalf of the Oath Keepers.
“I had these grand intentions that I was going to write my break-out novel, but what wound up happening is I just became a propagandist for them,” he told the Denver Post. “I failed that internal mission pretty fantastically.”
As their publicist, he also had several issues with Rhodes, who did not let him write opinions he did not agree with, according to the Denver Post, including when Van Tatenhove wished to express support for the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.
Van Tatenhove quit the organization after a couple of years.
What might he testify on?
Van Tatenhove testified to the committee twice: once on Zoom and once in person, according to the news and podcast website he founded last year, the Colorado Switchblade.
In a June 7 post, Van Tatenhove said his testimony will provide a “historical overview of the Oath Keepers and violent militias.”
“All I’m doing is giving a historical precedence,” he said in the podcast.
What has Van Tatenhove already said?
After leaving the militia group, Van Tatenhove has been especially critical of the group. While he previously agreed with Rhodes that the government should be checked, he has had a change of heart.
In a January interview with ABC News, Van Tatenhove said he was “wrong” and that his thinking has “evolved” since his days as the organization’s publicist.
As a local writer and artist, he also said he’s trying to make amends for his past.
“We’ve got to start talking to one another,” he told ABC News. “Not with guns, and not with body armor [or] standoffs, but just talking.”