Oath Keepers leader takes the stand in seditious conspiracy trial

The group amassed an arsenal of firearms at an Arlington, Va., Consolation Inn, carried out safety particulars for audio system at a pro-Trump “Cease the Steal” rally earlier than dozens of Oath Keepers marched to the Capitol and in the end contained in the constructing, whereas a violent mob clashed with police. Rhodes didn’t enter the Capitol, however labored the perimeter outdoors, finally congregating along with his allies — together with codefendants Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson and Jessica Watkins. Thomas Caldwell, an Oath Keeper from Virginia who helped coordinate the group’s weapons cache, can also be on trial alongside the opposite leaders.

The case towards the group is essentially the most vital but to emerge from the Justice Division’s large nationwide investigation of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, which has resulted in fees towards about 900 folks starting from easy trespassing to seditious conspiracy. Apart from the Oath Keepers, solely the leaders of the pro-Trump Proud Boys face seditious conspiracy adjustments, they usually’re set to face trial subsequent month.

Rhodes spent his first day of testimony largely describing his personal background — he emphasised that he’s 1 / 4 Mexican, grew up poor and and spent a year-long stint working for Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who he stated he was drawn to due to his antiwar and libertarian stances.

Rhodes finally attended Yale Legislation College and began the Oath Keepers to face towards what he considered as constitutional excesses by the George W. Bush administration after 9/11.

However Rhodes’ time on the witness stand — minimize quick by an early Friday deadline set by U.S. District Court docket Decide Amit Mehta — is prone to get rougher from right here. His protection counsel will start Monday by strolling by way of Rhodes’ resolution to activate the Oath Keepers to problem the 2020 election outcomes, carry out safety at pro-Trump occasions and in the end name on Trump to invoke the Riot Act, which they stated would allow him to deputize their group to assist preserve him in workplace.

On Friday, Rhodes described his efforts to ship these messages to Trump as akin to “Horton Hears a Who” — a Dr. Seuss traditional during which a microscopic civilization makes an attempt to make its voice heard. Rhodes additionally described his normal view that the 2020 election was “unconstitutional” as a result of he believed states improperly modified their election legal guidelines to handle the specter of Covid — a place that largely aligns with complaints by Trump and plenty of of his allies.

On Monday, Rhodes’ attorneys are poised to emphasise the principle protection theme of the trial thus far: Not one of the 5 leaders on trial are charged with committing violence towards police, they usually by no means deployed any of their firearms to Washington, regardless of having allies able to ferry them in.

When Rhodes’ attorneys end, prosecutors can have an opportunity to cross-examine Rhodes and are anticipated to poke holes in his rosy portrayal of the Oath Keepers and their mission. They’re prone to ask Rhodes about his violent rhetoric in texts to fellow group members, in addition to on calls with associates — a few of which have been recorded by group members and supplied to prosecutors. They’re additionally prone to press Rhodes on his declare that if Trump did not invoke the Riot Act, Oath Keepers can be ready to violently stop the switch of energy anyway — one thing he stated would set off a “bloody” civil warfare.

The unpredictable timing of the trial — which was delayed practically per week after Rhodes got here down with Covid — has additionally resulted in one other notable final result: Rhodes can be dealing with cross examination the day earlier than the primary nationwide election because the one he’s charged with making an attempt to subvert.

Rhodes spent the early portion of his testimony describing his group’s involvement in securing companies amid riots in Ferguson, Mo. and Louisville, Ky, throughout racial justice protests that additionally have been accompanied by rioting and violence. Rhodes stated in Ferguson, Oath Keepers scolded police for utilizing a blunt method to protesters somewhat than singling out legal actors within the crowd.

Rhodes additionally spent a lot of his testimony emphasizing that the Oath Keepers would don’t have any tolerance for bigotry of their ranks, saying “neo-Nazis” can be ejected in the event that they tried to hitch the group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *