Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes was charged with seditious conspiracy in the January 6 investigation.
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On the night of January 6, 2021, the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia tried to speak with President Donald Trump and directly implore him to call on groups to help stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory, according to court records.
In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors said Oath Keepers leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes gathered with members of the far-right militia at a Washington, DC, hotel and placed a call over speakerphone to an unidentified individual. During the call, “Rhodes repeatedly implore the individual to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose the transfer of power,” according to the court filing.
After the recipient of the call refused to connect him with Trump, Rhodes told the group, “I just want to fight,” according to the court filing.
The court filing came in the case of William Todd Wilson, an Oath Keeper who pleaded guilty Wednesday to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of a congressional proceeding — a pair of felonies each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison — in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
As part of the plea deal, Wilson, 45, admitted that he conspired with Rhodes and other Oath Keepers to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power in early 2021. The plan included a cache of weapons stored in a hotel just outside Washington, DC, and a so-called “quick reaction force” prepared to forcibly halt the certification of Biden’s victory.
Wilson agreed as part of the plea deal to cooperate with the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into the January 6 insurrection. He is expected to testify Thursday before a grand jury.
The revelation of Rhodes’ attempt to contact Trump offers insight into ties between the Oath Keepers and members of the former president’s orbit. On the morning of January 6, Trump’s longtime political ally Roger Stone appeared outside a hotel in Washington, DC, flanked by members of the Oath Keepers militia.
In previous court filings, Rhodes indicated himself that the Oath Keepers were awaiting some official action from Trump in the aftermath of January 6. Rhodes’ lawyers said in a February court filing “that there was a belief that President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act, necessitating a need for militias and other groups to defend that declaration” ahead of the inauguration set for January 20, 2021.
“When that invocation did not come, Rhodes took no action, before or after, that could be considered seditious by any rational observer,” Rhodes’ lawyers said.
This is a developing story.
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