WASHINGTON — The founding father of the far-right Oath Keepers was recorded days after the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol saying his “solely remorse” about that day is that the group “ought to have introduced rifles,” federal prosecutors revealed in federal court docket Monday.
Opening statements started Monday within the seditious conspiracy trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes alongside Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell. Different members of the alleged conspiracy will go on trial in November.
The Justice Division alleges that Rhodes and members of his group plotted to oppose the peaceable switch of energy, stockpiling weapons in “fast response forces” simply outdoors of D.C. that might be introduced into the town at a second’s discover. Rhodes’ legal professionals have famous that he adopted D.C.’s strict gun legal guidelines, which they are saying is a sign that he would have solely acted upon an order from then-President Donald Trump. However the audio recording and different proof prosecutors introduced Monday recommend that Rhodes deliberate to disrupt certification of the presidential election no matter what Trump mentioned.
“My solely remorse is that they need to have introduced rifles,” Rhodes mentioned in a recording from Jan. 10 performed by the federal government. He added that they might’ve “mounted it proper then and there” if they’d weapons with them on the Capitol.
Rhodes’ protection attorneys are utilizing a novel authorized protection technique, arguing that he believed his actions main as much as Jan. 6 have been authorized as a result of he believed Trump would invoke the Revolt Act.
Assistant U.S. Lawyer Jeffrey Nestler mentioned that Rhodes’ references to the Revolt Act have been nothing greater than an try to provide authorized cowl for one thing that Rhodes, a Yale-educated lawyer, knew was unlawful. His proof? A recording of Rhodes saying the Revolt Act references have been “authorized cowl,” which Nestler performed for the jury.
The trial is predicted to additional spotlight ties between Trump associates and the far-right Oath Keepers, who supplied safety for high-profile Trump supporters and had hyperlinks to others in Trump’s orbit. As NBC Information reported, Kellye SoRelle — the overall counsel for the Oath Keepers who was charged in reference to Jan. 6 final month — had been in contact with former Trump White Home aide Andrew Giuliani in connection together with her work for Legal professionals for Trump in the course of the 2020 marketing campaign. SoRelle has mentioned that Rhodes requested for her White Home contacts forward of Jan. 6.
One other Oath Keeper who pleaded responsible to seditious conspiracy instructed the court docket that Rhodes spoke with a Trump middleman on the night time of Jan. 6 and requested to talk on to Trump whereas imploring the particular person “to inform President Trump to name upon teams just like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose a switch of energy.”
Citing America’s historical past of a peaceable switch of energy courting again to George Washington and John Adams, Nestler instructed jurors throughout opening arguments that the Oath Keepers “tried to alter that historical past” by retaining Trump in energy.
The defendants “banded collectively to do no matter was obligatory, as much as and together with utilizing drive, to cease the switch of energy from Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden,” Nestler mentioned.
“If Congress couldn’t meet, it couldn’t declare the winner of the election,” he mentioned. “And that was their purpose.”
The Oath Keepers, he mentioned, “have been combating a warfare, they usually gained a battle in that warfare” on Jan. 6.
After the riot, Nestler mentioned, Rhodes tried to get different members of the Oath Keepers to delete their texts.
“You all must delete any of your feedback relating to who did what,” Rhodes instructed members of an Oath Keepers group chat on Jan. 8.
“Don’t chat about Oath Keeper members allegedly doing something at Capitol,” he mentioned. “Go darkish on that. Don’t talk about… Let me put it in infantry converse: SHUT THE F–Ok UP.”
Phillip Linder, certainly one of Rhodes’ legal professionals, instructed jurors that the federal government was presenting selective proof of his consumer’s actions that day. Linder, who needed to be reined in by the decide a number of instances as a result of he made unallowable arguments that cited media protection or referred to the period of time the defendants may spend behind bars if convicted, instructed jurors that the proof “goes to point out you that my consumer, Mr. Rhodes, did nothing unlawful.”
Linder confirmed that Rhodes will testify in the course of the trial.
“The actual proof goes to point out that our purchasers have been there to do safety for occasions that have been scheduled on the fifth and the sixth,” Linder mentioned.
“Stewart Rhodes meant no hurt to the Capitol that day,” he mentioned. “Stewart Rhodes didn’t have any violent intent that day.”
The Justice Division disagrees, saying this group of Oath Keepers weren’t there to help anybody on Jan. 6.
“They didn’t go to the Capitol to defend or to assist, they went to assault,” Nestler mentioned.
Opening arguments from the opposite members of the Oath Keepers who’re on trial have been scheduled for Monday afternoon. The trial is predicted to final 5 weeks.