Nine alleged Oath Keepers leaders will go on trial this fall on seditious conspiracy charges for their alleged involvement in the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. Jurors in the government’s first significant, showcase trial will hear a defense position that many will find absurd.
The far-right fanatics expected that President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act as they assembled at the Capitol, 100 of them wearing camouflage-colored tactical gear, and transform them into his own, fiercely devoted federal militia. This is what the jury will be informed of.
In court documents Oath Keepers testify that Trump intention was to invoke the Insurrection Act & somehow through it, create a 'federal militia' out of the Oath Keepers to become a private army loyal only to Trump
This is LITERALLY the Hitler Nazi cookbook that created Gestapo pic.twitter.com/LYzW6cSreu
— Tomi T Ahonen Standing With Ukraine (@tomiahonen) July 2, 2022
Their fictitious objective? According to since-deleted rhetoric from its website, to “Defend the President,” “Stop the Steal,” and “Defeat the Deep State.” They would have a resolute Trump as their commander in chief.
“Do NOT concede, and do NOT wait until January 20, 2021,” Inauguration Day. “Strike now,” the Oath Keepers leader and founder, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, urged in an open letter to Trump on December 14, 2020.
“You must call us up and command us.”
The Oath Keepers were an “invited security force” for rally planners and participants, including Roger Stone, Latinos for Trump, and Virginia Women for Trump. They claim they believed Donald Trump would turn them into his own personal militia on Jan 6. https://t.co/ElBAE8Vuwa
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) July 1, 2022
The majority of people will be startled to find that the Oath Keepers believed they would turn into a government militia, Rhodes’ attorney James Lee Bright conceded. “What do they believe?” Bright pictured the thoughts of others. These people are just nuts.
The pro-Trump, the anti-government group had two legitimate — and non-seditious — reasons to be at the Capitol on January 6, he still wants to persuade the jury.
The first is that they served as an invited security team for Roger Stone, Ali Alexander, Latinos for Trump, and Virginia Women for Trump, among other rally organizers and attendees.
Oath Keepers charged w/ 'seditious conspiracy' will argue they believed they would become Trump's 'personal militia'. Their lawyer says many will think 'These guys are fu*king crazy', but will still tell a jury they believed they would be federalized. Real life, not the onion.
— Don Lewis (@DonLew87) July 2, 2022
Second, they were awaiting Trump’s instructions.
The Oath Keepers departed the Capitol when those orders did not materialize, according to Rhodes’ attorneys. They ate dinner at an Olive Garden before gathering the supplies and weapons they had hidden in their Comfort Inn rooms in Arlington, Virginia, but never used. They then returned home.
Federal prosecutors allege that Rhodes said, “I just want to fight,” after failing to reach Trump on the phone that evening, sounding like some radical Pinocchio with a dashed ambition of joining a real militiaman.
"Take the mags away" screamed Donald Trump as he ordered his security to allow armed Oath Keepers and Proud Boys to storm the U.S. Capitol and overthrow the government.
— Liam Nissan™ (@theliamnissan) July 1, 2022
Of course, prosecutors will present a different story to the jury.
In court documents, the Feds claim that the Oath Keepers’ secret chat communications prove their true motivation was sedition.
The discussions are rife with references to a civil war against “the usurpers”—Joe Biden and Kamala Harris—and to using force to thwart the handover of presidential power, which is the very definition of a seditious conspiracy.
The plan was for Donald to walk down to the capital, invoke the insurrection act, and deputize the proud boys and the oath keepers. They would be Donald’s personal brown shirts, and we would become a dictatorship. https://t.co/9R7oO6lrOT
— Bobby Boone (@BobbyBoon3) July 2, 2022
The government claims that Rhodes was in charge of two Oath Keeper “stacks” or formations that violently entered the Capitol and that the real reason the group fled Washington, DC, was because the FBI had started making arrests.
“I don’t necessarily understand the mindset of it,” Bright, who has a private practice based in Dallas, said.
“It’s not my worldview,” added Bright, who spoke to Insider this week about the Oath Keepers’ strategy for the trial, scheduled to begin September 26 and expected to run five or six weeks.
The OathKeepers claim they believed Donald Trump would turn them into his own personal militia on Jan 6.
Probably because that’s what they were told at the Willard Hotel meeting.
— THE SAD TRUTH (@SmnWeekly) July 1, 2022
“But the evidence does exist that these individuals believed in it,” he said of the group’s hope that Trump would use the Insurrection Act to summon them into federal service against an imagined Biden-Harris “coup.”
“They believed that if it was invoked, it was legal,” Bright said. “And it would have been legal, arguably.”
NEW: Oath Keepers’ motions to dismiss charges, sever, and change venue, are DENIED. They will go to trial in DC for all counts including seditious conspiracy. https://t.co/0oOACGDcbR
— Mueller, She Wrote (@MuellerSheWrote) June 29, 2022
This brings us to probably the most puzzling aspect of the Oath Keepers’ strategy for defense.
According to Rhodes’ attorneys, because the Insurrection Act is so broadly worded and does not define terms like “insurrection,” “militia,” and “militias of the state,” Trump actually might have federalized the Oath Keepers.
Bright remarked, “It’s so unbelievable, and yet it’s legal,” at least until a judge rules otherwise.