(WASHINGTON) — House investigators looking into the siege of the U.S. Capitol a year ago have contacted a former spokesman for the Oath Keepers militia, seeking to interview him about his time with the militia group and its founder, Stewart Rhodes, according to the former Oath Keeper, Jason Van Tatenove, and a congressional source familiar with the matter.
The request to interview Van Tatenhove, who says he left the Oath Keepers by 2018, suggests that House investigators are casting a wide net as they gather information about Rhodes as they wait to see if he will cooperate with their probe.
Van Tatenhove told ABC News that he plans to answer the panel’s questions, but he is first seeking legal counsel.
According to congressional sources, House investigators have been discussing Van Tatenhove for much of the day, after ABC News featured him in its new documentary “Homegrown: Standoff to Rebellion,” now on Hulu, and in a story online about his ongoing efforts to “atone” and “make amends” for his time with the Oath Keepers.
Investigators issued a subpoena to Rhodes two months ago, seeking testimony and documents from him, but Rhodes has yet to appear before them or provide documents.
“Prior to January 6th, Mr. Rhodes repeatedly suggested the Oath Keepers should engage in violence to ensure their preferred election outcome,” the committee said in a statement when issuing the subpoena. “On January 6th, Mr. Rhodes was allegedly in contact with several of the indicted Oath Keepers members before, during, and after the Capitol attack, including meeting some of them outside the Capitol.”
Rhodes, however, has said he wasn’t on Capitol grounds until after the violence began, and there’s no evidence he entered the Capitol building. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Nevertheless, according to an ABC News count, more than 20 people charged in the federal investigation of the Jan. 6 riots have alleged ties to the Oath Keepers.
The chairman of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., recently told ABC News that in order to “put the pieces of the puzzle together,” an upcoming hearing will explore the role of the Oath Keepers and other far-right organizations on Jan. 6.
Now an artist and writer in Colorado, Van Tatenhove served as a spokesman for the Oath Keepers between 2014 and 2018. He published stories and posted videos online that promoted claims of federal government overreach and highlighted Oath Keepers’ efforts to intervene in politically-charged matters around the country.
However he now describes much of what he promoted as dangerous “propaganda” that can create violent confrontations.
“And I think we saw the culmination of that come Jan. 6, when the Capitol riots happened,” he said.
Van Tatenhove left the group after it took what he said was “a very hard right turn,” associating with white nationalists and Holocaust deniers at the start of Donald Trump’s presidency.
“I became a propagandist for what they were doing. I feel awful about that now,” Van Tatenhove said.
Rhodes has insisted over the years that his organization is nonpartisan and that it only seeks to help people ensure their rights are protected.
ABC News’ Benjamin Siegel contributed to this report.
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