Oath Keepers keep flipping. And the latest is dishing dirt related directly to Donald Trump.
The leader of the Oath Keepers tried to call former President Trump on the afternoon of Jan. 6, 2021, to urge him to activate the far-right militia to forcibly keep him in power, the third member of the group to flip told prosecutors in court documents released Wednesday.
But the militia leader and alleged ringleader of the group’s Jan. 6 activities, Stewart Rhodes, never reached Trump. The unidentified person on the other end of the phone refused to pass along the call, according to prosecutors.
After the call ended, shortly after 5 p.m., Rhodes turned to those gathered with him in a hotel room and declared: “I just want to fight,” according to court documents.
These new allegations arose from a new court document released Wednesday in connection with the guilty plea of William Todd Wilson, 45, whom prosecutors described as the leader of an Oath Keeper chapter in Sampson County, North Carolina.
The details don’t bode well for Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, who was arrested along with 10 of his followers in January 2022. He’s pleaded not guilty to the charge of criminal conspiracy and appears to be preparing to fight his case in court. But his legal jeopardy increases every time the feds flip another member of his group.
Wilson, however, tried his damnedest not to get caught: He told prosecutors that he threw his cellphone into the Atlantic Ocean to put investigators off his trail, according to court documents.
After admitting to his part in an attempt to stop the transfer of power after the 2020 election, however, he now faces 20 years for the crime of seditious conspiracy, and 20 years for the crime of obstructing an official proceeding.
On Jan. 5, prosecutors say, Wilson drove from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., with an AR-15-style rifle, a 9 mm pistol, about 200 rounds of ammo, body armor, a camouflaged combat uniform, pepper spray, a pocket knife, and a large walking stick “intended for use as a weapon.”
He also admitted to helping stash weapons around Washington, D.C., which the group allegedly planned to use in case the conflict escalated.
And Rhodes, according to the details alleged in Wilson’s plea deal, attempted to personally set that escalation in motion by trying to contact Trump.
After the phone call that never reached Trump, Rhodes and others gathered at a restaurant in Vienna, Virginia, according to court documents.
“Wilson recalled that Rhodes continued to discuss the need to prepare for a larger fight against the government akin to the American Revolutionary War,” prosecutors wrote.
On Jan. 6, Wilson, Rhodes, and others “bypassed barricades and Capitol Police officers, and unlawfully entered the restricted grounds of the Capitol,” the court documents allege. Two other members have also pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction charges: Joshua James, 34, of Alabama and Brian Ulrich, 44, of Georgia. Both have admitted to prosecutors that they attempted to use force to keep Trump in power, and considered Rhodes the mastermind of their activities.
Other details about the Oath Keepers’ role during the insurrection have recently emerged from the congressional committee investigating Jan. 6.
For example, members of the group allegedly texted to each other about needing to protect “critical data” that was held by the pro-Trump GOP congressman Ronny Jackson of Texas, according to a document released by the committee earlier this week.
It remains unclear exactly what kind of data that might be.
But we could soon find out. Now that three members of the group are cooperating with the authorities, it’s possible that much more information about the group and their intentions will come out during the looming trial and congressional investigation.
The committee is expected to produce a report and live hearings within the next few months.
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