Oath Keepers: Newly released private messages show leader Stewart Rhodes was skeptical Trump would act on Jan. 6.



CNN

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was skeptical that then-President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act until Jan. 6, according to new messages that emerged Thursday, and was privately preparing to carry out his own insurgency led by the far-right militia group. .

Investigators obtained new messages from Rhodes’ phone, many of which are from one of seven major signals coordinated by the Oath Keepers around January 6, 2021. Prosecutors said the additional messages came from the electronic devices of other Oath members. From Keepers and their phone providers – Noting that T-Mobile kept some users’ messages.

Rhodes released two public letters urging Trump to use the Sedition Act, according to prosecutors. If Trump called that action, he believed the former president would call in the Oath Keepers as a militia to help stop what they saw as a stolen election and prevent Joe Biden from becoming president, according to the public letters. He floated the same ideas in encrypted group messages with other members of the Oath Keepers, encouraging the group to organize a rapid reaction force outside Washington on January 6 if they were called upon.

But in private text messages shown to the jury Thursday, Rhodes allegedly told Kellye SoRelle, who identifies herself as an Oath Keepers attorney, that she had a contingency plan if Trump didn’t call in the militia.

If the Insurrection Act is not called “then I will make peace,” Rhodes reportedly wrote to SoRelle in late December 2020, a few days before January 6. “And then I will focus on what I need to do. The founder and leader of the Oath Keepers to prepare for what comes after Trump fails to do his duty.”

The Oath Keepers would have a plan if Trump invokes the Insurrection Act, Rhodes said in a text, “but most of my focus will be on believing he doesn’t. And preparing for the worst.”

Rhodes also expressed doubts that Trump would act on the Signal messages to a close group of Oath Keepers leaders presented by prosecutors.

“Either Trump pulls out of his ass and uses the Sedition Act to defeat the ChiCom puppet coup or we’re going to have to rise up in rebellion (rebellion) against ChiCom’s puppet Biden,” Rhodes said in an early December Signal message. “This is your choice.”

“This will be the third DC rally,” Rhodes reportedly wrote to Signal a week before Jan. 6. “I’m getting old. They don’t give a shit.”

He added: “They will not be afraid of us until we come with rifles in our hands.”

Before breaking ground on the building on January 6, Rhodes reportedly sent a Signal message to Oath Keepers leaders, giving the then-President a final warning.

He wrote: “Trump has one last chance to be a man and fulfill his oath. Will he do it?”

Trump never invoked the Insurrection Act.

When a mob tore through the US Capitol on January 6, some Oath Keepers expressed doubts about storming the building, complaining in the group’s Signal chat that the mob was “stupid enough to act like ANTIFA.”

Rhodes, however, saw the breakup as an opportunity, according to prosecutors.

SoRell answered on behalf of Rhodes; “We are acting like the founding fathers. Can’t stop Stewart and I get along.”

SoRelle, the right-wing militia group’s general counsel, pleaded guilty last month to multiple charges related to the attack on the US Capitol.

Rhodes’ defense attorneys have repeatedly argued that his actions on Jan. 6 were expected to trigger Trump’s invocation of the Insurrection Act, and that the Oath Keepers’ failure to call for armed forces was because Trump did not invoke the act.

Rhodes and four other Oath Keepers are on trial for seditious conspiracy. Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell have pleaded not guilty.