Former Oath Keeper Breaks Down on Witness Stand, Apologizes for Jan. 6, Says 'I Was Acting Like a Traitor'

Graydon Young
Graydon Young inside the Capitol on Jan. 6.U.S. District Court District of Columbia

Former Oath Keeper Graydon Young testified as a star witness for the prosecution in the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four others over the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

A star government witness in the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes testified that he believed the Jan. 6, attack on the Capitol would spark an American revolution potentially led by the far-right extremist group.

Former Oath Keeper Graydon Young broke down on the stand this week and apologized for participating in the violent storming of America's seat of power in 2021.

“I felt like it was a ‘Bastille-type’ moment in history, like in the French Revolution,” the Florida resident testified. “I guess I was acting like a traitor, someone acting against my own government,” he said in the trial of Rhodes and four others in federal court in Washington, D.C.

“I’m really sorry for what I did,” said Young, who pleaded guilty in June 2021 to a conspiracy to obstruct Congress during its meeting to certify Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

“I won’t do anything like that ever again,” Young said. “It’s really embarrassing.”

The Oath Keeper co-defendants are accused of being in military-style gear outside the Capitol and with staging firearms just outside Washington, D.C.

Along with Rhodes, the other defendants are Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell. All have pleaded not guilty.

Young testified he consumed an unhealthy mix of Facebook and YouTube content that left him “ginned up” about poll results. He joined the Oath Keepers after Election Day 2020, he said, and believed untrue assertions by outgoing President Donald Trump and others that the election had been stolen.

His sister, Laura Steele, a fellow Oath Keeper, is awaiting trial for her part in the alleged obstruction conspiracy.

Young said he joined a security detail for a speaker at Trump’s Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally before heading to the Capitol with other Oath Keepers. On the way, he said, he heard the Capitol had been broken into.

“It was exhilarating. I felt like I was going to be an important or an integral part of what was happening,” he testified.

Young said there was no specific order to enter the Capitol or to engage in criminal activity. Though Rhodes didn't step inside the Capitol, prosecutors contend he and his co-defendants conspired to oppose by force the legal transition of executive power, and to obstruct or impede lawmakers during hearings to certify the presidential election results.

“There was no specific plan that you were aware of to breach the doors of the Capitol, is that correct?” asked attorney James Lee Bright, who represents Rhodes.

Young acknowledged on the stand that he hopes to receive a lesser sentence in exchange for his plea agreement with the government.

“I participated in a conspiracy to obstruct Congress. … We were going to disrupt Congress, wherever they were meeting," Young testified. 

“I felt like it was common-sense. We talked about doing something about fraud in the election when we got there on the 6th," he said. "And when crowds went over the barricades into the building, the opportunity presented itself to do something.”

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