Ryan Lucas

Updated April 16, 2021 at 1:50 PM ET

A heavy metal musician and founding member of the Oath Keepers extremist group pleaded guilty Friday to charges connected to the storming of the U.S. Capitol and agreed to cooperate with investigators — a first in the massive probe into the deadly Jan. 6 assault.

In April of 2009, a bespectacled former Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate took the microphone at a small rally just outside of Boston to introduce his new self-styled militia.

"I'm Stewart Rhodes," he said. "And I'm the founder of Oath Keepers."

That event on Lexington Green served as a coming-out party for Rhodes and Oath Keepers, a group that touts itself as a defender of the rights of Americans from what it views as a tyrannical government.

For nearly three months, federal investigators have been digging to get to the bottom of a major question hanging over the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol: Was it planned and coordinated?

The public has begun to see pieces of an answer to that question in recent weeks through court filings and statements from prosecutors. Those materials do not — at this point — show that those in the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 had a clear, coherent plan ahead of time to breach the building, according to an NPR review.

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NOEL KING, HOST:

Were the people in the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol in January planning and coordinating that assault? This is a key question for investigators.

The founder of the Oath Keepers militia had a 97-second phone call with a senior member of the group who minutes later took part in a military-style "stack" formation with other Oath Keepers to breach the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to federal prosecutors.

The allegation emerged in court papers the Justice Department filed overnight in the case against 10 alleged members or associates of the Oath Keepers facing conspiracy and other charges in connection with the Capitol riot.

Updated March 24, 2021 at 12:13 PM ET

A member of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group who is charged with conspiracy in connection with the Capitol riot claimed to be coordinating with the Proud Boys and a far-right, self-styled militia to form an "alliance" on Jan. 6, according to court papers filed by the Justice Department.

A federal judge sharply criticized the Justice Department Tuesday for speaking to the press about its case against alleged members of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group facing conspiracy and other charges in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

"I called this hearing this afternoon to make clear to everyone that this case will not be tried in the media," U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta said. "If there are further public comments or stories of the kind that we've seen in the last 48 hours, I will not hesitate to consider a gag order."

Four alleged leaders of the Proud Boys have been indicted in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol over allegedly conspiring, including in discussions on encrypted messaging apps, to obstruct the certification of President Biden's Electoral College victory.

The indictment unsealed Friday charges the defendants — Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zach Rehl and Charles Donohoe — with six counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of law enforcement, destruction of government property and conspiracy.

Updated March 18, 2021 at 2:34 PM ET

The FBI released a series of videos Thursday that show 10 people suspected of some of the most violent attacks on police officers during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and asked the public for help identifying the assailants.

Federal prosecutors allege that the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers paramilitary group, Stewart Rhodes, was in direct communication — in the runup to Jan. 6 and then during the Capitol insurrection itself — with militia members who stormed the building.

The allegations emerged in court papers filed late Monday by the government in the case against Thomas Caldwell, an alleged Oath Keeper who along with eight other people is facing conspiracy and other federal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The FBI has arrested a former mid-level State Department aide in the Trump administration for allegedly assaulting police officers while storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Federico Klein, who also worked on the 2016 Trump campaign, was taken into custody on Thursday in Virginia. He is facing several charges, including obstructing an official proceeding, obstructing law enforcement and assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon.

Updated at 6:41 p.m. ET

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol as "domestic terrorism," defended the bureau's handling of intelligence about potential threats ahead of the event and rejected conspiracy theories blaming left-wing extremists for the violence on Jan. 6.

Updated at 2:01 p.m. ET

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a one-sentence unsigned order, declined former President Donald Trump's request to further delay the enforcement of a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney for Trump's financial records. Monday's order paves the way for a New York grand jury to obtain the records and review them.

Updated at 11:05 a.m. ET

President Biden's pick for attorney general, Merrick Garland, vowed Monday that protecting civil rights and combating domestic terrorism would be priorities for the Justice Department under his watch.

Garland, a widely respected judge who has served for more than 20 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Watch the hearing live.

Updated at 2:57 p.m. ET

The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against three North Korean hackers for allegedly conducting a series of destructive cyberattacks, computer-enabled bank thefts and cryptocurrency heists around the world.

Updated at 2 p.m. ET

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson is suing former President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani and two far-right groups — the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers — for allegedly conspiring to incite the deadly violence on Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The opening day of the Senate impeachment trial was like living through January 6 all over again. And that was the point. The Democrats, leading the push for a conviction, played a graphic video, scenes of the mob storming the U.S. Capitol building.

Updated at 1 p.m. ET

Lawyers for Donald Trump are rejecting the House managers' case for convicting the former president, calling it unconstitutional "political theater" and urging the Senate to dismiss the case.

Updated at 5:57 p.m. ET

The House impeachment managers accuse Donald Trump of summoning a mob to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, whipping the crowd "into a frenzy" and then aiming them "like a loaded cannon" at the U.S. Capitol, pinning the blame for the deadly violence that ensued directly on the former president.

The allegations are contained in a memo delivered to the Senate that presents an outline of the case against Trump that House impeachment managers plan to present on Feb. 9 when the trial begins.

Christopher Wray is staying at the helm of the FBI.

Less than 24 hours after President Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, generated speculation about Wray's future after giving a noncommittal response when asked whether Biden had confidence in the FBI director, Psaki made clear that Wray will remain at his post.

"I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so [I] wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing," Psaki wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

Updated at 2:30 a.m. ET

President Trump pardoned Steve Bannon, his former chief strategist who was indicted over allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of people in an online campaign to raise funds for a southern border wall — one of dozens of acts of clemency in the final hours of his administration.

The lengthy list of 73 pardons and 70 commutations landed after midnight. Trump left the White House for the last time Wednesday morning, skipping the inaugural ceremonies of his successor, President-elect Joe Biden.

When John Demers came in to lead the Justice Department's national security division, the United States was grappling with the fallout from Russia's cyberattack on the 2016 election.

Now, as he and the Trump administration prepare to leave office, the U.S. is dealing with another massive hack that American officials have again pinned on Moscow.

"Well, there is a certain symmetry to all of this," Demers said in an interview with NPR as his time at the Justice Department draws to a close.

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Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Attorney General William Barr said Monday he sees no reason to appoint a special counsel to lead the ongoing federal investigation into Hunter Biden or to probe further President Trump's claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Attorney General William Barr, an outspoken proponent of conservative values and an expansive view of presidential power, will leave office before Christmas, President Trump announced in a tweet Monday afternoon.

Trump said he and Barr had a "very nice meeting" at the White House and that their "relationship has been a very good one."

Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen will become acting attorney general, Trump said.

On more than one occasion, President Trump has demonstrated his willingness to use his pardon power to pluck a political ally or associate out of legal trouble.

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Trump has issued a pardon to his first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. Flynn had pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and then recanted. This ends a years-long saga, which NPR's Ryan Lucas has been long following. And he joins us now.

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