WASHINGTON — Founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes, who gave second-day testimony in Oath Keepers seditious conspiracy trial, had nothing to do with the Jan. 6, 2021 violent encroachment of the U.S. Capitol He denied that and told jurors that those inside were “idiots.” ”
Some of his Oath Keepers were among the mob.
“If they had asked me, I would have said no,” the far-right group leader said Monday in federal court.
Through his testimony, Rose deflected responsibility for the violence and destruction his group has been accused of bringing into the U.S. Capitol on the day Congress met to prove the numbers for the 2020 presidential election. He attempted to view the Oath Keepers as a rational force for peacekeeping, claiming they provided “security” to those who sought it.
But prosecutors have punctured his claims with evidence that the Oath Keepers have been committing violence and intimidation wherever they go. Washington, including, has allegedly stockpiled weapons and prepared for the violence that would lead to the Jan. 6 riots by a mob of Donald Trump supporters. Keeping him in the White House despite losing the election to Joe Biden.
U.S. Attorney Kathryn Lacozy has detailed several of their intimidation tactics, including the example of the Orth Keepers showing up at a protest after the death of Breonna Taylor in a raid on her home in Louisville, Kentucky. Rakoczy played a video clip showing some Oath Keepers standing by a truck in tactical gear, holding rifles as bystanders hooted them.
“Don’t you think you’re doing more to make things worse?” Rakoczy asked Rhodes.
Rhodes replied that he did not agree.
“Sir, can you hear someone begging you to leave in this video?”
Rhodes replied that he did.
Rhodes said the Orth Keepers were in the District of Columbia on Jan. 5 and 6, along with right-wing political adviser Roger Stone, organizer of the “Stop the Stealing” rally Ali Alexander, and blacks like Trump. It said it “protected” people going to events organized by the group. Women for Trump.
He denied having told the Oath Keepers to join the mob that would tear down the Capitol, or that it was part of their plan from the beginning. He denied that he had simply implied that
However, when Rhodes tried to distance himself from the violent mob in court, Rakoczy carefully characterized the Oathkeepers, using Rhodes’ own words to portray them as a group of anti-government extremists. I was. their fringe view.
She started with a basic story of the group. Rhodes said he started the Orth Keepers in response to policy decisions by the George W. Bush administration that he believed were unconstitutional. But he did admit that he actually founded the group in Lexington, Massachusetts after Barack Obama became America’s first black president in April 2009.
This artist’s sketch is the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rose, who will testify Monday before U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta on charges of seditious conspiracy to attack the Capitol on January 6, 2021. is drawing (Photo: courtroom sketch by Dana Verkouteren via Associated Press)
Rhodes denied that the Oathkeepers had ever lured political opponents into physical battle, such as the so-called Antifa movement. I confronted him with a recording of myself Likewise, he encourages Oath Keepers (who tend to be older) to purchase weaponized staves from a website titled Cold Steel and dress like the elderly to lure unsuspecting enemies. He denied that it had ever happened.
Rhodes estimated that there were 100 Oathkeepers in the Capitol area on January 6. He and four others – Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Thomas Caldwell and Jessica Watkins – Trump has been accused of organizing to keep Trump in power despite the November 2020 election results. met to prove
Rhodes did not enter the Houses of Parliament. But prosecutors say mounting evidence points to him persuading others to do so.
Rakoczy repeatedly showed the texts Rhodes sent before, during and after the riot using encrypted messaging platform Signal.
In one message, Rose said of Trump: He needs to understand that we have no choice. In another message sent on Jan. 6, Rhodes spoke of the “founding generation” engaging in “street fights” to make way for the current “patriots” at the same point in history. said he was in
Rhodes testified that he thought he was talking about something else — about his theory that Trump was about to invoke the Riot Act. and will be able to call in militia groups such as the Oath Keepers to try to hold another presidential election. He said he believes the 2020 elections are not legal because of this.
In this scenario, the Oath Keepers would help keep the peace, Rhodes testified.
However, many of his claims run counter to the testimony of government witnesses who previously stated that the leadership of the Oathkeepers strongly implied that they would go to Washington to commit acts of violence. He testified that he was thinking of ways to say goodbye to his family before leaving for Washington.
Rhodes said the “Quick Reaction Force” (QRF) he and his followers discussed staging was to protect the White House and was not involved in setting up an armed QRF that day. A witness previously said the group’s stash of guns was so large that they hadn’t seen anything like it since they were in the military.
After the riot, Rhodes sent a text celebrating the events of the day.
“It’s been a long day, Patriots, but it was the day the Patriots started to rise. Stand now or kneel forever,” Rhodes said in a group chat with other Oathkeepers. .
During direct questioning, Rhodes also distanced himself from Trump’s rally outside the White House shortly before the riots. There were several groups of people, but Rhodes said he was there to speak at a Latino Trump event a few blocks north of the Capitol and was scheduled to stay there all day afterwards. rice field.
Rose testified that he was told Trump supporters were stoking in the Capitol just before 2 p.m., and he went to check it out. I was watching Trump’s speech, eating chicken wings, and warming up in a hotel room near a friend.
Rhodes testified that until he saw the mob, he didn’t think, “Oh shit, they might actually break in.”
This article originally appeared on huff post and updated.