Former Oath Keeper Calls Group 'Dangerous Militia' in Testimony

Jason Van Tatenhove, former spokesman of the largest far-right antigovernment group in the US, testified in the January 6 hearing on Tuesday, July 12.

Tatenhove said that he spent a few years with the Oath Keepers as a National Media Director and Associate Editor after coming into contact with the group while covering one of their standoffs as an independent journalist. According to his testimony, he witnessed the group’s member base radicalize and drift “further and further right” during his tenure.

“They may not like to call themselves a militia, but they are,” said Tatenhove while describing the group, which was in the mob that stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. He added that the “stacked military formation” entering the Capitol building is the best illustration of the Oath Keepers. Credit: C-SPAN via Storyful

Video transcript

- Mr. Van Tatenhove, can you help us understand who the Oath Keepers are?

JASON VAN TATENHOVE: I can. Thank you My time with the Oath Keepers began back at Bundy Ranch with that first standoff, when I went to cover them as an independent journalist. I then subsequently covered two more standoffs, the sugar pine mine standoff, and the White Hope mine standoff.

It was at that time that I was offered a job as national media director and an associate editor for the web page. So I spent a few years with the Oath Keepers. And I can tell you that they may not like to call themselves a militia, but they are. They're a violent militia. And they are largely Stewart Rhodes.

And I think rather than try to use words-- I think the best illustration for what the Oath Keepers are happened January 6, when we saw that stacked military formation going up the stairs of our Capitol. I saw radicalization that started with beginning of my time with them and continued over a period of time as the member base and who it was that Stewart Rhodes was courting drifted further and further right into the alt-right world into white nationalists and even straight up racists.

And it came to a point where I could no longer continue to work for them. But the Oath Keepers are a dangerous militia that is in large part fed by the ego and drive of Stewart Rhodes who, at times, seemed to see himself as this paramilitary leader. I think that drove a lot of it. So in my opinion, the Oath Keepers are a very dangerous organization.

- Well, thank you very--

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