An FBI special agent’s testimony in the Oath Keepers’ seditious conspiracy trial revealed that members of the far-right militia became increasingly impatient while waiting for then-President Donald Trump to deputize his supporters and stop the joint session of Congress from.
“Either Trump gets off his [a**] and uses the Insurrection Act to defeat the ChiCom puppet coup or we will have to rise up in insurrection (rebellion) against the ChiCom puppet Biden,” Oath Keepers founderwrote in a December 2020 text message, falsely claiming President Joe Biden’s victory was the result of a plot by the Chinese Communist Party.
Though Trump never tried to invoke the act, Rhodes and other Oath Keepers anticipated that the former president would do so in order to disrupt congressional proceedings affirming Mr. Biden’s electoral victory. That winter, Rhodes had written a letter to Trump urging him to invoke the act, which would enable the president to use the military and militias for civilian law enforcement in order to help him remain in power after his term expired.
“That’s what should be happening,” Rhodes told other Oath Keepers in a group chat. “But I have my doubts. I’m tired of waiting for Trump to do his [d***] duty.”
Rhodes, alongside codefendants Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell, are accused of multiple felony offenses, including seditious conspiracy, for their alleged attempt to stop the peaceful transfer of power during the. All have pleaded not guilty and their defense attorneys maintain the defendants were acting only as security personnel for the president’s rally at the Ellipse, which preceded the Capitol attack.
Oath Keepers members operated as security guards for Trump ally Roger Stone prior to Jan. 6, and text messages show Rhodes and Meggs internally discussed similar arrangements for Stone’s associates, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
Federal prosecutors sought to rebuke the defense’s claim Thursday by arguing that the Oath Keepers’ messages demonstrate ambitions beyond just providing security for Trump allies.
“This will be DC rally number three,” Rhodes wrote, referencing Trump’s rally on Jan. 6. “Getting kinda old. They don’t give a [sh**] how many show up and wave a sign, pray, or yell. They won’t fear us until we show up with rifles in hand.”
Whitney Drew, a former FBI special agent who investigated the Jan. 6 attack before leaving the bureau, told the jury about different channels of communication the Oath Keepers used to coordinate their movement on the day of the attack. Militia members used Zello, a walkie-talkie app, to inform each other of their whereabouts, police movements, and updates about Congress that they read in the news.
Days earlier, Rhodes had also encouraged fellow militia members to wear protective equipment, even urging one to bring a camera-equipped reconnaissance drone to Washington on the day of the attack. “Now it’s [n**] cuttin time,” Rhodes wrote. “Does Trump have [b****] or not? We’re about to find out.”