According to the latest conspiracy indictment against several members, the founder of the extremist Oath Keepers
was ready to take orders from then-President Donald Trump
to seize control of the government on the day of the Capitol insurgency.
The superseding indictment, which was unsealed on Sunday, includes new details about the Capitol riot
and adds four new co-defendants, bringing the total to 16, according to The Washington Post
All of the defendants have been charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress
's confirmation of the 2020 presidential election
, and were among a group of Oath Keepers in combat uniforms and tactical vests who marched up the steps of the Capitol and stormed inside. Actions were coordinated, and included several communications with Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes, referred to as "Person One."
The new indictment also includes additional information about nearby weapons caches, as well as the existence of a “quick reaction force” of Oath Keepers outside of Washington, D.C.
, ready to move in if necessary.
According to the indictment, Rhodes said in an online conference call prior to the Capitol siege, “I do want some Oath Keepers to stay on the outside, fully armed and ready to go in armed, if they have to.”
“Our posture will be to be posted outside of D.C., awaiting the president’s orders... We hope he will give us the orders; we want him to declare an insurgency and call us up as the militia,” Rhodes is quoted as saying in the indictment.
The indictment alleges that Rhodes began discussing plans to keep Trump in the White House
by force days after the presidential election, and that by December, Rhodes had publicly called for Trump to invoke the Insurrection
Act and declare martial law.
Before and during the Capitol riot, Rhodes exchanged dozens of encrypted messages, phone calls, and other communications with co-defendants, according to the indictment.
“We’re going to defend the president, the duly elected president,” Rhodes said during a conference call, according to the charging document. “Because if you don’t, guys, you’re going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war and a bloody... insurrection, or you can call it a war or fight.”
He stated that he hoped that Antifa members would become involved in Capitol Hill clashes, prompting Trump to act and declare martial law, with the Oath Keepers serving as his militia.
“Let the fight begin there,” Rhodes is quoted as saying in the indictment, “because that will give President Trump what he needs, frankly... We want him to declare an insurgency and call us up as militia.”
The indictment stated that Rhodes, his deputy, and three of the charged co-defendants, who were seen guarding long-time Trump confidant Roger Stone on Jan. 5 and 6, exchanged nearly 20 phone calls over three hours on the day of the siege, which coincided with the first assault
barricades and covered the time the three defendants breached the building.
Except for the most recently charged co-defendants, all have pleaded not guilty; the status of the new co-defendants was not immediately clear. According to a court motion filed Thursday, the Justice Department
has begun reaching out to some of those charged for plea talks.
Rhodes has previously stated that federal prosecutors
are attempting to turn the violent actions of a few rogue actors
at the Capitol into a conspiracy, and he told the Post that he was communicating with members of the Oath Keepers in an attempt to gather them outside the Capitol on the day of the insurgency to "keep them out of trouble."
In the deadly Capitol riot, over 400 people
have been arrested.
More information on the latest defendants can be found at The Washington Post.