During the seventh Jan. 6th select House committee’s public hearing on the Jan. 6th Capitol riot yesterday, the public learned additional details on the planning. We learned the context of former President Trump’s Dec. 19th tweet about the “wild protest,” who coordinated around it, and that Trump himself reached out to a Jan. 6th witness in possible witness tampering.
Testimony from Jason Van Tatenhove, a former spokesperson of the Oath Keepers, described how lucky the violence did not get worse at the Capitol. As The Hill reports, Tatenhove also told CNN he believed America was “ “very, very close” to a civil war.
“I don’t know how far they’ve gotten into the endgame, but what we saw on January 6th is certainly very much how it would look to start out,” he said. “We came very, very close to having a civil war kick off on January 6th.”
During his testimony yesterday, Tatenhove described the Oath Keepers as “a violent militia that dreamed of an insurrection like that which unfolded on Jan. 6.” Unfortunately, five people died, and 150 law enforcement officers were injured during the attack. As Tatenhove told the committee, the potential was for more people to possibly get hurt. “We’ve gotten exceedingly lucky that more bloodshed did not happen, because the potential has been there from the start,” said Tatenhove.
Tatenhove’s first run-in with the Oath Keepers happened in Nevada during the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff. He was an independent journalist at the time by leader Stewart Rhodes and quit years after.
“I think we saw a glimpse of the vision of what the Oath Keepers is on January 6,” Van Tatenhove said in a response to a question from the committee’s chair, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., about the group’s vision for America. “It doesn’t necessarily include the rule of law. It includes violence. It includes trying to get their way through lies, through deceit, through intimidation and through the perpetration of violence.”
What frightens Tatenhove in the future is the possibility of former President Trump being re-elected as commander in chief. He believes that Trump will stop at nothing to regain power.
“I really do fear for what might happen if Trump gets back in office,” he told CNN. “In a lot of ways, we’ve been mincing words. When it comes to the events of January 6th, that was not some sort of peaceful protest. That was a violent mob, and people died. We need to really start calling things out for what they are.”