Prosecutors say militia leader was looking to be 'activated' by Trump ahead of Capitol riot

Federal prosecutors said on Thursday that an Ohio militia leader charged in the wake of the Capitol riot had been awaiting directions from former President TrumpDonald TrumpHarris stumps for McAuliffe in Virginia On The Money — Sussing out what Sinema wants Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — The Facebook Oversight Board is not pleased MORE in the days leading up to the attack.

The allegations in a court filing submitted Thursday morning are some of the most direct links that prosecutors have drawn between Trump and the rioters.

In a memo calling for Jessica Marie Watkins of Ohio to be held in jail without bail while awaiting trial, Justice Department lawyers said that she helped organize fellow militia members in storming the Capitol.


"Watkins was thus not an ancillary player who became swept up in the moment, but a key figure who put into motion the violence that overwhelmed the Capitol," the filing reads.

In the days after the presidential election, prosecutors say, Watkins told other militia members that she was awaiting cues from Trump before taking action against what the former president had been calling a stolen election.

“I am concerned this is an elaborate trap," Watkins allegedly wrote in a text message sent on Nov. 9. "Unless the POTUS himself activates us, it’s not legit. The POTUS has the right to activate units too. If Trump asks me to come, I will. Otherwise, I can’t trust it.”

Watkins could not immediately be reached for comment. It's unclear if she is represented by an attorney.

She is facing multiple federal criminal charges stemming from the Jan. 6 riot, the most serious of which, obstruction of an official proceeding, carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.

According to prosecutors, Watkins claims to be the "commanding officer" of the Ohio State Regular Militia, whose members are affiliated with the right-wing paramilitary group the Oath Keepers, which has been a regular presence at pro-Trump rallies.

The prosecutors' claims come amid Trump's trial in the Senate following his impeachment on a charge of inciting the Jan. 6 mob that overran the Capitol, leaving five people dead.