Prosecutors on Friday began tying together the different threads of the five alleged oath keepers and how they prepared for Jan. 6, 2021, in the final hours of the second week of the trial.
Over the past two weeks, the government has shown Washington, D.C., to a grand jury dozens of messages discussing a civil war, the assassination of politicians and the Sedition Act as part of the Justice Department’s historic effort to prove that members of the Oath Keepers conspired to stop it. The peaceful transfer of power from then-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden.
The messages submitted by various FBI agents have helped prosecutors argue that the five defendants – Stewart Rhodes, Jessica Watkins, Kelly Meggs, Thomas Caldwell and Kenneth Harrelson – resorted to violence alone in the months and weeks before the Capitol riots. Rhodes, Meggs, Harrelson, Watkins and Caldwell have pleaded not guilty.
Now, prosecutors are detailing how the defendants worked to create a clear and articulated plan to reverse the allegedly stolen election — a key aspect of the “seditious conspiracy” they have leveled against the group.
On Friday, prosecutors testified that Rhodes, Meggs, Harrelson and other Oath Keepers participated in three virtual meetings during the first week of January 2021. The “planning calls,” as prosecutors called them, lasted two hours and “discussed plans for an armed group.” rapid response force.’
Meggs and Rhodes began texting each other on Jan. 2 about the use of force, eventually settling on staging the scene in a hotel room Meggs rented in Virginia, according to the messages prosecutors showed.
The two discussed meeting points, street closures and road access to Washington for the Quick Response Force (QRF), and, according to prosecutors, Rhodes mentioned paying for Meggs’ hotel rooms.
Meggs also helped coordinate with a larger group of Oath Keepers preparing to travel to Washington, saying leaders had a “good call last night” and that he would “meet the (North Carolina) group today and find our QRF location.”
Caldwell, according to prosecutors, sent at least six detailed maps of northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., to the alleged leader of the force, Paul Stamey, who has not been charged.
“And don’t be afraid: If you get overwhelmed (I know that feeling) know that I will have hard copies of these maps for you and all drivers,” Caldwell reportedly said in an email to Stamey.
Meggs also sent maps to a large message from the Oath Keepers group created for Jan. 6 planning, including travel routes the rapid response force could take to Washington and meeting points for the group in the nation’s capital.
“If 1 by land the north side of the Lincoln Memorial is 2 by sea the corner of the west basin and Ohio is the water carrier landing,” Meggs wrote in a message shown to the jury.
Using cellphone data, prosecutors showed the jury how Caldwell, Meggs, Rhodes, Harrelson, Watkins and at least five other Oath Keepers traveled to Washington between January 1 and 5. At least five members, including Meggs and Harrelson, spent the night in January. 4 camp together, according to cell phone data.
From Jan. 5 to 7, at least 10 members of the Oath Keepers stayed at the Comfort Inn in Ballston, Va. — the hotel Caldwell suggested was the force’s base, according to phone records released by the government.
On the morning of January 6th, Rhodes reportedly wrote to the Oath Keeper leadership group message: “We will have several well-equipped QRFs outside of DC. And there are many, many other groups that will be watching and waiting from the outside in the worst case scenario.”