The prosecution has rested in its seditious conspiracy case against several members of the Oath Keepers extremist group after dropping one final bomb on the jury — a recording of the group’s founder and leader, Stewart Rhodes, expressing his wish to execute House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Defense for the Oath Keepers members has claimed that the caches of firearms stored off-site were only intended for use if then-president Donald Trump invoked the insurrection act and needed the group to help him maintain order. However, the prosecution has brought evidence supporting claims that the defendants — in addition to Rhodes, these are Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Thomas Caldwell, and Jessica Watson — had intentions of using violence to alter the outcome of the 2020 election.
Even after the attack was over and rioters had been removed from the Capitol Building, Oath Keepers continued to plan. One participant, Jason Alpers, testified that he recorded one of these meetings, in order to accurately pass on information to Trump, as well as inviting Rhodes to type a message on his phone to send to the then-president.
That recording, shared with the jury before the prosecution rested, included Rhodes saying that the group should have taken rifles with them to the Capitol, and concluding that, if they had done so, they could have “fixed it right there and then” — and that he’d have been able to “Hang f***ing Pelosi from the lamppost.”
Alpers said that during the meeting Rhodes typed out on Alpers’ cellphone a message for Trump, in which Rhodes urged Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to remain in power.
“If you don’t, then Biden/Kamala will turn all that power on you, your family, and all of us. You and your family will be imprisoned and killed,” Rhodes wrote in the message, which was shown to the jury. “And us veterans will die in combat on US soil, fighting against traitors who YOU turned over all the powers of the Presidency to.”
According to CBS, Alpers testified that he was in support of the plans until partway through that meeting, at which time he says he “Kinda stepped back,” and later handed over the recording to the FBI.
In the recording, Rhodes can be heard promising a second civil war, declaring, “There’s gonna be combat here on U.S. soil, no matter what, no matter what you think they’ll do. It’s coming. No way out of it without fighting.”
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.