Another individual with a history of involvement in the far-right group the Oath Keepers has been sentenced to prison in connection to January 6 violence. This time, Jessica Watkins — who is also a veteran — has been sentenced by federal Judge Amit Mehta to eight and a half years in prison. Considering she has already spent some time in custody, she’s already taken a chunk out of that sentence.
Watkins went to trial alongside prominent leaders in the group, including founder Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, a leader from Florida. Rhodes was sentenced earlier this week to 18 years of prison, which is the longest stint of time in jail that has been imposed on anyone who participated in or was connected to the assault on the Capitol. Rhodes, Meggs, and Watkins all originally faced criminal charges of seditious conspiracy, but Watkins — unlike the other two — was acquitted of that particular offense at trial. Watkins was instead convicted of allegations that have repeatedly been a part of criminal cases originating with the Capitol violence, including an obstruction charge for threats to Congress’s handling of the 2020 election results that had been scheduled for that day.
Watkins has shown remorse for her actions, as noted by journalist Ryan Reilly with NBC News. “I was just another idiot running around the Capitol,” she said, per NBC. “But idiots are held responsible, and today you’re going to hold this idiot responsible.”
At present in the race for president that will culminate in next year’s general election, the idea of issuing presidential pardons in criminal cases originating with the Capitol attack is taking further hold among Republican contenders. Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, who formally unveiled an expected bid for the GOP nomination in recent days with an ill-fated audio chat on Twitter with Elon Musk, said in a recent interview he would be open to the idea of issuing such pardons if he captured the presidency, and Trump himself — who seems likely to become the GOP nominee, considering polling and endorsements — has long made similar comments. “Any candidate who says they will pardon Jan. 6 defendants is not qualified to be President,” Liz Cheney said on Thursday.