Oath Keepers founder spoke of 'bloody' war ahead of U.S. Capitol attack

Prosecutors in the trial of five Oath Keepers members on Friday showed a jury fresh evidence that the right-wing militia group's founder Stewart Rhodes told his followers ahead of last year's U.S. Capitol attack there would be a "bloody" war if then-President Donald Trump failed to reverse his 2020 election loss.


Reuters | Updated: 07-10-2022 23:46 IST | Created: 07-10-2022 23:46 IST
Oath Keepers founder spoke of 'bloody' war ahead of U.S. Capitol attack

Prosecutors in ... trial of five Oath Keepers members on Friday showed a jury fresh evidence that ... right-wing militia group's founder Stewart Rhodes told ... followers ahead of last year's U.S. Capitol attack there would be a "bloody" ... if then-President Donald Trump failed to reverse ... 2020 election loss. In numerous text messages, online postings ... speeches shown as evidence, Rhodes promoted ... use of force ... implored Trump to invoke ... Insurrection ..., a 19th century U.S. ... that empowers presidents to deploy troops to quell civil unrest.

Trump never invoked ... Insurrection ... even as Rhodes wrote to ... in open letters posted online about ... idea ... bragged to fellow Oath Keeper leaders in a December 2020 text that he ... "on back-channel working groups trying to advise ... president." Rhodes ... his four co-defendants ... on trial on felony charges including seditious conspiracy. A second ... of Oath Keeper defendants accused of being part of ... same conspiracy ... slated to go to trial in November.

"Show ... world ... the traitors ..., ... then ... the ... Insurrection ... to drop ... hammer on them," Rhodes ... seen saying in a December 2020 speech at a pro-Trump political rally in video presented to ... jury. ... he does ... do it ..., while he is commander in chief, we ... going to have to do it ourselves later, in a much more desperate, much more bloody war." Rhodes ... his four co-defendants - Thomas Caldwell, Kenneth Harrelson, Kelly Meggs ... Jessica Watkins - ... on trial on charges accusing them of conspiring to prevent Congress from certifying Democrat ... Biden's election victory on Jan. 6, 2021, in a ... to keep ... Republican incumbent in power. A pro-Trump ... stormed ... Capitol on that ... and attacked police, ... failed to prevent ... election certification.

Seditious conspiracy is a rarely prosecuted crime under a statute dating to ... 19th century Civil ... ..., defined as attempting ... overthrow, ... down or to destroy by force ... government of ... United States." It carries a possible prison sentence of 20 years. A member of another far-right group, ... Proud Boys, on Thursday pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy ... his role in ... Capitol attack. Three Oath Keepers members this year pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy, ... may be called as witnesses in ... current trial.

Testifying on Friday were Capitol Police Special Agent Ryan McCanley ... FBI Special Agent Byron Cody, both answering questions about ... material that ... government introduced as evidence. Friday marked ... fourth ... of testimony from prosecution witnesses, with ... trial ... to resume on Tuesday with Cody returning to ... witness stand. Prosecutors have said some of ... Oath Keepers were among ... Trump supporters ... stormed ... Capitol building after he gave a speech to supporters repeating ... false claims that ... election ... been stolen from ... through widespread voting fraud. Five people died during ... shortly after ... riot ... about ... police officers were injured.

In addition, prosecutors have said ... Oath Keepers organized a "quick reaction force" of armed members ... were kept on standby across ... Potomac River in Virginia in case they were called upon to bring firearms into Washington. Attorneys ... the defendants have said ... evidence will show they ... nothing illegal ... that ... Oath Keepers ... a peacekeeping group that ... done security work at events around ... country to protect speakers at political rallies.

Various text messages, Facebook direct messages ... audio recordings used as evidence in ... trial have shown ... defendants vowing to reject Biden's election victory, planning to go to Washington ... discussing what weapons they could bring, with Rhodes talking of possible "civil war." Prosecutors ... defense attorneys ... expected next week to address a dispute over whether ... government ... introduce potentially incriminating communications between Rhodes ... Kellye SoRelle, ... Oath Keepers' general counsel ... is facing related criminal charges in a different case.

In ... text, briefly posted before ... defense objected, Rhodes told SoRelle: "They won't fear us till we come with rifles in hand."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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