More than three months after the Capitol riot, the first defendant in the case has pleaded guilty and is set to cooperate with prosecutors.
Jon Schaffer, a founding member of the far-right group the Oath Keepers, pleaded guilty on Friday to charges stemming from his participation in the riot at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, The Washington Post and Politico reported. He is the first Capitol riot suspect to plead guilty, and under the deal, he will "cooperate fully with the United States," per Politico.
Schaffer pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing an official proceeding of Congress and entering and remaining in a restricted building while armed with a weapon. Prosecutors said he was armed with bear repellent and was wearing a tactical vest during the riot.
"Schaffer admits that his belief that the electoral college results were fraudulent is not a legal justification for unlawfully entering the Capitol building and using intimidation to influence, stop, or delay the Congressional proceeding," prosecutors said.
Prosecutors also said that Schaffer admitted he was "among the first individuals to push past" a set of damaged doors into the Capitol building during the riot. Schaffer was one of over 400 people to face charges over the riot, according to the Post, and Politico reports a dozen members of the Oath Keepers have been charged.
Former federal prosecutor Peter Skinner explained to the Post this was a "huge" development in the case, as cooperation deals of this kind are "what the government needs to investigate and possibly prosecute the leaders of the organization." Skinner added, "Clearly, they're trying to send a strong signal to other Oath Keepers and leaders that there's somebody in the organization that is going to be telling them everything they know about the organization."