Bangkok One News
Home » Oath Keeper leader spoke of ‘civil war’ ahead of Jan. 6 Capitol attack-U.S. prosecutors
Breaking News Crime World News

Oath Keeper leader spoke of ‘civil war’ ahead of Jan. 6 Capitol attack-U.S. prosecutors

Prosecutors on Monday urged a jury to convict Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four others for their roles in storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, alleging they plotted to do whatever it took to prevent the transfer of presidential power.

“They concocted a plan for an armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy,” prosecutor Jeff Nestler said on Monday in an opening statement at their trial in federal court in Washington.

Rhodes and his co-defendants Kelly Meggs, Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins and Kenneth Harrelson are accused of plotting to forcefully prevent Congress from certifying Democratic President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory in a failed bid to keep then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, in power.

In their opening statements, prosecutors portrayed Rhodes as a sophisticated leader of the far-right group who sent encrypted Signal messages to his followers after Biden won the 2020 election, saying “We must prepare for civil war.”

“It will be torches and pitchforks time if they (Congress) don’t do the right thing,” he wrote in one encrypted message sent in November 2020.

Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last January after Trump falsely claimed the election had been stolen from him through widespread fraud. Five people died during and shortly after the riot, and about 140 police were injured.

The five on trial face numerous felony charges, including seditious conspiracy – a Civil War-era statute that is rarely prosecuted and carries a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors have said the defendants trained and planned for Jan. 6 and stockpiled weapons at a northern Virginia hotel outside the capital in the group’s so-called “quick reaction force” (QFR) that would be ready if called upon to transport arms into Washington.

As lawmakers met to certify Biden’s election victory, some Oath Keepers charged into the Capitol building, clad in paramilitary gear in a military-style formation.

Nestler said Watkins led a group of seven Oath Keepers toward the Senate side of the Capitol. As she stormed down the hallway with the “power of the mob with her,” Nestler said she yelled “Push, push, push!”

He said that Watkins added: “They can’t hold us.”

Ahead of Jan. 6, Meggs told followers from the Florida Oath Keepers that “the time for talk is over. The real question is who’s willing to DIE?” according to text messages shown by the prosecution.

Stewart Rhodes of the Oath Keepers poses during an interview session in Eureka

FBI Special Agent Michael Palian testified as the government’s first witness on Monday, saying that he helped escort U.S. senators back to the Senate to finalize certifying the election once the Capitol had been cleared of rioters. “It was chaotic,” Palian said, recounting how he had seen some lawmakers crying.

Translate »