WASHINGTON—The first week of the Oath Keepers trial ended on Oct. 7 at E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse with brief testimonies from two FBI special agents.
Both agents said the bureau assigned them to investigate the Oath Keepers’ members before and after the 2020 presidential election. They analyzed social media posts, text messages, and other communications of defendants Stewart Rhodes, Thomas Caldwell, Kelly Meggs, Jessica Watkins, and others.
Special Agent Ryan McCamley testified that he heard Rhodes’ speech at the Jericho March wearing plain clothes. According to him, since Nov. 2020, the agency has become aware of the risks of violence between Donald Trump supporters and other protesters.
The two agents confirmed to the prosecutors that Rhodes texted and spoke about refusing to accept a possibly stolen presidential election and how he and his team planned to overturn the election if former president Donald Trump wouldn’t invoke the Insurrection Act.
In a letter (pdf) to Trump on Dec. 14, 2020, Rhodes said, “If you fail to act while you are still in office, we the people will have to fight a bloody civil war and revolution.” Government attorneys have repeatedly point to the letter throughout the trial as proof Rhodes’ intetion to overthrow the government.
“Time to get serious about training. And force on force is the way to go,” texted Rhodes in a message on Dec. 25, 2020, to the “OLD Leadership CHAT” group on Signal.
“But he [Trump] needs to know that if he doesn’t do it, we will. And if we have to do it ourselves, without him as commander in chief, it will be exponentially harder, and many more of us will die. And while we fight, our nation will be vulnerable to invasion,” wrote Rhodes on the same group chat on Dec. 29, 2020. “It will be horrific.”
Throughout the first week of the trial, the government lawyers displayed screenshots of text messages from the Signal app, Facebook messages, recorded calls, and video footage of Rhodes and his organization allegedly conspiring against the transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.