Oath Keepers leader: No plan to attack U.S. Capitol



Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes advised jurors there was no plan for his band of extremists to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as he tried Monday to clear his identify in his seditious conspiracy trial.

Taking the stand in his defence for a second day, Rhodes testified that he had no concept that his followers have been going to be a part of the pro-Donald Trump mob to storm the Capitol and that he was upset after he discovered that some did. “There was no plan to enter the building for any purpose,” Rhodes stated.

Rhodes stated he believed it was silly for any Oath Keepers to go into the Capitol. He insisted that was not their “mission.”

In textual content messages on the day of the attack, although, Rhodes struck a distinct notice, referring to Trump supporters who entered the Capitol as “actual patriots.” Rather than telling his followers to stay away from the riot, he called them to the area. Rhodes maintained that was simply a meetup point to leave, but prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy pointed out Rhodes never condemned the insurrection. Hours after it ended, he wrote a message saying “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

She additionally confirmed a number of messages the place Rhodes referred to “us and our rifles” or “boots on the ground” forward of Jan. 6. Rhodes had been “saying for weeks, if not months, that when the president did not act your supporters would take issues into their very own arms,” she stated.

Rhodes stated Monday that he was speaking about what he thought might occur after Jan. 6.

Rhodes is on trial with 4 others for what prosecutors have alleged was a plan to stage an armed rise up to cease the switch of presidential energy from Republican Trump to Democrat Joe Biden. Prosecutors have tried to present that for the Oath Keepers, then riot was not a spur-of-the-moment protest however a part of a critical, weekslong plot.

Rhodes’ defence is concentrated largely on his the concept his rhetoric was geared toward persuading Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, which provides the president large discretion to resolve when navy pressure is important and what qualifies as navy pressure. Rhodes advised jurors he believed it might have been authorized for Trump to invoke that act and name up a militia in response to what he believed was an “unconstitutional” and “invalid” election.

“All of my effort was on what Trump could do,” Rhodes stated.

It was not completely clear what Rhodes would have wished the militia to do after being known as up by Trump. But he insisted that disrupting the certification of the vote was not one in all his targets and he anticipated that it might be licensed.

Prosecutors say Rhodes’ personal phrases present that he was utilizing the Insurrection Act as authorized cowl and that he was going to act it doesn’t matter what Trump did. Messages Rhodes despatched embody one other from December 2020 by which he stated Trump “needs to know that if he fails to act, then we will.”

Another Oath Keeper beforehand testified as a part of an settlement with prosecutors that he and others within the group have been ready to use “any means necessary” to cease the certification of the vote.

Rhodes additionally addressed one other key a part of prosecutors’ case: an enormous arsenal of weapons the Oath Keepers had a resort at close by Virginia. Prosecutors say the weapons have been a component of a so-called fast response pressure that the group might deploy shortly to Washington.

Rhodes claimed the weapons weren’t for a fast response pressure, although the prosecution once more confirmed a number of messages the place he referred to the weapons by that identify and one the place he stated the “state of affairs requires it.”

Rhodes didn’t go into the Capitol on Jan. 6 and prosecutors have described him as “a normal surveying his troops on a battlefield.” Rhodes stated that he merely went to the Capitol to discover his Oath Keeper followers who weren’t on a safety “mission” defending figures comparable to Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant. Rhodes stated he did not even understand that one in all his males who went into the Capitol had completed so till he noticed him in an FBI picture.

Prosecutors have spent weeks methodically laying out proof that exhibits Rhodes and the Oath Keepers discussing the prospect of violence earlier than Jan. 6 and the necessity to maintain Biden out of the White House in any respect prices.

Among their key witnesses have been two of Rhodes’ former followers who pleaded responsible within the Capitol attack and agreed to cooperate with investigators within the hopes of getting a lighter sentence. One advised jurors that the Oath Keepers have been ready to cease the certification of Biden’s electoral victory by “any means necessary,” together with by taking on arms.

Three Oath Keepers who pleaded responsible to seditious conspiracy and struck cooperation offers with prosecutors have been notably not placed on the stand by the federal government. It’s unclear why.

The defendants are the primary amongst a whole lot of individuals arrested within the Capitol riot to stand trial on the Civil War-era cost that requires up to 20 years behind bars. The Justice Department final secured such a conviction at trial almost 30 years in the past and intends to strive two extra teams on the cost later this yr.

On trial with Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, are Kelly Meggs, chief of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers; Kenneth Harrelson, one other Florida Oath Keeper; Thomas Caldwell, a retired U.S. Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group. They face a number of different costs as well as to seditious conspiracy.


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