Federal prosecutors played an audio recording in court Tuesday of an alleged November 2020 Oath Keepers planning meeting discussing plans to bring weapons to Washington, DC and prepare to “fight” on behalf of former President Donald Trump.
The meeting lasted about two hours and was secretly recorded by an attendee, FBI agent Michael Palian told jurors on the second day of the trial of leaders of the far-right Oath Keepers militia on seditious conspiracy charges.
The attendant, Palian said, sent a tip to the FBI that month, but agents were not contacted. The tip was then sent in March 2021, the officers were interviewed and given the recording.
The recording, in particular of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, is the first piece of evidence prosecutors have used to establish a plan by the far-right group to descend on Washington and oppose the transfer of power.
“We’re not going to get out of this without a fight. There’s going to be a fight,” Rhodes said in the recording played in court. “But let’s do it smart and let’s do it while President Trump is still commander in chief,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes repeatedly said that people should pressure Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, and that the Oath Keepers would “wait for orders from the president.”
“If there’s a fight, let there be a fight. Let Antifa go – if they go kinetically to us, we’ll kinetically come back. I’m ready to sacrifice myself for that,” Rhodes said in the recording. “If things go kinetically, fine. If they drop bombs and shoot us, great. Because that brings reason and reason to the President” to call the Sedition Law.
He continued, “so our mission will be to get into DC, but I want some Oath Keepers to stay out and be fully armed and ready if needed. So if the shit starts, you rock and roll.”
Two other defendants, Jessica Watkins and Kelly Meggs, are also on tape discussing legally bringing guns into the precinct, prosecutors said.
“Pepper spray is legal. Tasers are legal. And stun guns are legal. And it doesn’t hurt to have a lead pipe with a flag on it,” Meggs said in the recording.
After the meeting, Meggs and Watkins both told their state Oath Keeper representatives that they would be going to Washington. Watkins wrote to Ohio members: “Anyone who isn’t called tonight. We’ve called for DC. This is the time we’ve signed up.”
All five defendants have pleaded not guilty to the seditious conspiracy charge they face, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.