WASHINGTON — An Alabama man named in the highest-profile charges yet filed over last year’s Capitol riot pleaded guilty Wednesday in return for the government’s commitment to seek reduced charges at sentencing.
Joshua James, 34, of Arab, Alabama, was charged with seditious conspiracy along with 10 other people said to be members of the far-right Oath Keepers. A grand jury indictment accused them of conspiring to carry out acts of violence to stop Congress from counting the electoral votes for president.
James pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge, as well as to obstructing an official proceeding. He admitted meeting with Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes in November 2020 to talk about trying to stop the vote count, including a discussion of patrolling the perimeter of the White House grounds, if necessary, to prevent Donald Trump from being succeeded by Joe Biden.
Prosecutors said James led one of two lines of rioters who entered the Capitol in a military-style single-file formation. The group he led marched up the steps on the east side of the Capitol and entered the building’s Rotunda, forcing its way past police officers, charging documents said. He also admitted that he grabbed the vest of a Capitol police officer, yelling, “Get out of my building.”
James' trial was scheduled to begin in July. He was released on bail following his arrest a year ago. Four other people accused of being part of the Oath Keepers pleaded guilty last year to reduced charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.