Jim Arroyo, a senior figure in the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers, told “60 Minutes” the group has received training from “active-duty law enforcement” personnel, but he attempted to distance the larger paramilitary movement from the members charged in connection with the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
“Our guys are very experienced. We have active-duty law enforcement in our organization that are helping to train us,” Arroyo, the vice president of the Oath Keepers’ largest chapter, in Arizona, said in the interview. “We can blend in with our law enforcement ― in fact, in a lot of cases, our training is much more advanced because of our military backgrounds.”
A dozen members of the Oath Keepers have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, part of a broader effort by federal investigators to determine how the insurrection was organized. Prosecutors have alleged that some members of the paramilitary group may have plotted before the riot to attack the Capitol and stop the certification of the presidential election.
Arroyo, who was not at the Capitol during the riot, told “60 Minutes” the Arizona chapter has splintered from the national organization, part of a larger schism among far-right groups after the Jan. 6 attack.
He didn’t condone the violence during the attack, and distanced himself from Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, as well as other members of the group who have been charged as part of a conspiracy case linked to the insurrection. Rhodes himself has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but federal prosecutors are said to be targeting him as part of their investigations.
“I want to congratulate Stewart Rhodes and his 10 militia buddies for winning first place in the ultimate dumbass contest, ’cause that’s what it was,” Arroyo told “60 Minutes.” “That goes against everything we’ve ever taught, everything we believe in. It was pre-planned. It was pre-staged. Ten guys go and do something stupid, and suddenly we’re the devil.”
Jon Schaffer, a member of the Oath Keepers, pleaded guilty last week to charges stemming from his role in the insurrection, and agreed to cooperate with the government.