The Oath Keepers spent thousands of dollars building the arsenals before Jan. 6, prosecutors allege.



CNN

Members of Oath Keepers spent tens of thousands of dollars on firearms, bullets and other equipment in January 2021, according to Washington prosecutors, in an attempt to prove members of the far-right extremist group were building an arsenal as it prepared to try to stop them. peaceful transfer of presidential power.

In all, prosecutors said Monday in federal court, $200,000 was withdrawn from bank accounts linked to the Oath Keepers to make various purchases that month, including guns. Prosecutors used evidence from the retirees, along with purchase receipts and text messages, to show how some of the members allegedly stored the weapons.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, according to text messages shown to the jury, bought several firearms from online sellers in what prosecutors called “parking lot purchases.”

Prosecutors then testified to the jury that Rhodes withdrew money from ATMs, a Bass Pro Shop, a Lowe’s and a gas station near where he made his purchases. They also showed receipts showing purchases of firearm accessories, including 14 magazines, eight sights and a scope leveling kit, at retail stores around the same time.

Prosecutors have not said what they believe Rhodes did with the weapons he collected on his way to Washington, DC, or that they were taken to a hotel in Virginia where the group’s so-called rapid response force was assembled.

An FBI agent testified Monday that Rhodes did not appear on hotel security footage and that the weapons were ultimately found in a storage unit belonging to Oath Keeper Joshua James, who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.

The extensive withdrawals were intended to persuade prosecutors to convince a jury that Rhodes and his organization were preparing for more than a peaceful rally on January 6, 2021, and that they believed a violent conflict was imminent.

According to prosecutors, Rhodes made purchases both in his home state of Texas in the week before the Capitol attack and during a trip to the DC region. Rhodes began the trip around January 3, 2021, according to cell phone records, traveling with attorney Kellye SoRelle. SoRell faces several charges related to January 6 and has pleaded not guilty in another case.

Attorneys for the defendants have repeatedly argued that SoRelle was the Oath Keepers’ general counsel. But, prosecutors suggested Monday, he was not acting in that capacity on Jan. 6 and was also exchanging sexually explicit messages with Rhodes.

“Speaking of f-ing… If you need some come over,” Rhodes texted SoRelle on Jan. 2. SoRell refused, according to another text message. He later allegedly texted Rhodes: “You’re so good at what you do. Total bad boy. I’m a damn sis [fire emoji]. I’m really repeating my teenage years.”

Prosecutors have relied heavily on the messages and audio recordings so far to build their case against the five defendants and began showing the jury how those recordings captured the defendants’ actions on Jan. 6, calling a reporter to the stand Monday afternoon.

Journalist Micah Loewinger captured an audio stream from a walkie-talkie app on Jan. 6 that allegedly shows Jessica Watkins, the defendant in the case, recounting the attack in real time.

“We have boots on the ground here. We move to the Capitol now. I’ll give you a boots-on-the-road update here in a little while,” Watkins allegedly said, according to court documents.

Rhodes, Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson, Thomas Caldwell and Kelly Meggs have all pleaded guilty to multiple charges in the case, including conspiracy to commit sedition.