What was Roger Stone doing with the Oath Keepers the day of the Capitol riot?
The Trump loyalist can be seen flanked by members of the far-right anti-government group on the morning of 6 January in Washington before the insurrection.
In video obtained for the first time Friday by ABC News former President Donald Trump's long term advisor Roger Stone in Washington, DC, on the morning of 6 January, surrounded by members of the Oath Keepers militia group just hours before the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol building.
In the video, which can be seen on ABC’s website Stone is seen to be taking pictures with supporters and mingling, as members of the Oath Keepers linger around him. One of them is wearing a baseball hat and military-style vest branded with the group's logo.
Five members of the far-right group later that day were arrested for attending the deadly insurrection at the Capitol complex and three have been charged in federal court with conspiracy to obstruct Congress. It is as yet unclear whether any of those seen in the video with Stone went on to be involved in the riot.
"So, hopefully we have this today, right?" one supporter asks Stone in the video, which was posted just after 10am on the morning of the rally - where Donald Trump and other supporters spoke to crowds before the insurrection began that evening. "We shall see," Stone replies.
According to ABC Stone has maintained that he played "no role whatsoever in the riot, which left five dead including a Capitol police officer" and has repeatedly said that he "never left the site of my hotel until leaving for Dulles Airport" that afternoon. He has also rejected attempts to align him with the people around him.
"I had no advance knowledge of the riot at the Capitol," Stone on Friday told ABC News, referring to the video. "I could not even tell you the names of those who volunteered to provide security for me, required because of the many threats against me and my family."
Why were Oath Keepers with Roger Stone the day of the insurrection?
According to ABC, Oath Keepers were known to be providing security for Stone during his Washington visit. Reports surfaced in January that militia members were traveling with Stone on the day before the Capitol assault, as the Trump loyalist helped set the stage for the "Stop the Steal" events that were intended to give a forum to the president's false claims that the 2020 election had been rigged.
Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal attorney also appears briefly during the video outside the DC hotel, though does not appear to speak to Stone or any of the Oath Keepers alongside him. Giuliani later went on to suggest to gathered crowds at a rally in Washington the afternoon of 6 January that they should initiate “trial by combat.”
Who are Oath Keepers?
Oath Keepers is an American far-right anti-government paramiliatry organisation composed of current and former military, police, and first responders who describe themselves as the “Guardian of the Republic.”
One of the most visible and vocal among far-right organisations in the US, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the organisation garnered media attention after their presence was noted in protests and unrest that followed the shooting of a young African-American by a Ferguson police officer in 2014. Oath Keepers are part of a broader anti-government “Patriot” movement that includes the militia and the “three percenter” groups, sovereign citizens and tax protestors.
Roger Stone: pardoned by Trump on the way out
Roger Stone, a self confessed "dirty trickster" and "agent provocateur" was pardoned by Trump before leaving office, protecting him from the indictment over Russian interference in the 2016 election, for which Stone was convicted in November on seven counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice and witness tampering.