Oath Keepers leader testifies storming U.S. Capitol was not part of extremist group’s plan


Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes advised jurors on Monday there was no plan for his band of extremists to assault the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as he tries 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 had been going to hitch the pro-Donald Trump mob to storm the Capitol and that he was upset after he came upon that some did.

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

“There was no plan to enter the constructing for any function,” Rhodes mentioned.

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 Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden. Prosecutors have tried to point out that for the Oath Keepers, the riot was not a spur-of-the-moment protest however part of a critical, weekslong plot.

Prosecutors had been simply starting their cross-examination of Rhodes earlier than midday on Monday.

Wanted Trump to invoke Insurrection Act

Rhodes’s defence is concentrated largely on the concept that his rhetoric was geared toward convincing Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, which supplies the president extensive discretion to resolve when army power is important and what qualifies as army power. Rhodes advised jurors he believed it will 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 may do,” Rhodes mentioned.

Front Burner19:36The Oath Keepers on trial

The Oath Keepers are a far-right militia, based in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes. He’s one of 5 members at present on trial in Washington, going through fees of seditious conspiracy and different felonies associated to the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. Prosecutors say they deliberate to cease the peaceable switch of energy from Donald Trump to Joe Biden following the 2020 election. Explosive, secretly recorded, audio from an alleged rebel planning assembly was performed final week in courtroom. Today, we’re joined by Andy Campbell, senior editor at HuffPost and creator of the brand new ebook We Are Proud Boys. He explains who the Oath Keepers are and what’s been revealed on the trial about how the lethal assault could have been prevented.

Rhodes did not clarify what he would have needed the militia to do after being known as up by Trump. But he mentioned disrupting the certification of the vote was not one of his targets and he anticipated that it will be licensed.

Prosecutors say Rhodes’s personal phrases present that he was utilizing the Insurrection Act as authorized cowl and that he was going to behave it doesn’t matter what Trump did. When they get an opportunity to query Rhodes this week, they’re prone to spotlight messages similar to one Rhodes despatched in December 2020 during which he mentioned Trump “must know that if he fails to behave, then we are going to.”

Rhodes additionally addressed one other key part of prosecutors’ case: a large arsenal of weapons the Oath Keepers had at a resort in close by Virginia. Prosecutors say the weapons had been a component of a so-called fast response power that the group may deploy to Washington.

Rhodes claimed the weapons weren’t there for that function and mentioned it will have taken a very long time to load them right into a car to convey into the town.

Former members testify

Rhodes did not go into the Capitol on Jan. 6, and prosecutors have described him as “a normal surveying his troops on a battlefield.” Rhodes mentioned that he merely went to the Capitol to seek out his Oath Keeper followers who had been not on a safety “mission” defending figures similar to Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant. Rhodes mentioned he mentioned he did not even understand that one of his males went into the Capitol 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 preserve Biden out of the White House in any respect prices.

Jason Van Tatenhove, an ally of Rhodes, testifies on the House choose committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, on July 12. Two former members of the Oath Keepers gave testimony to prosecutors within the present trial. (Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

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

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

The defendants are the primary amongst lots of of individuals arrested within the Capitol riot to face trial on the Civil War-era cost that requires as much as 20 years behind bars. The Justice Department final secured such a conviction at trial practically 30 years in the past and intends to strive two extra teams on the cost later this 12 months.

On trial with Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, are Kelly Meggs, leader 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 fees along with seditious conspiracy.


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