According to court documents, Stewart Rhodes, the head of the Oath Keepers militia organisation charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6 attack on the Capitol, requested an intermediary to persuade Donald Trump to allow his group to violently disrupt the transition of power.
The previously undisclosed phone discussion with the anonymous individual appears to imply that the Oath Keepers have ties with at least one person close enough to Trump that Rhodes thought the individual would be a good person to consult with regarding his request.
The justice department claimed in a statement of offence against Oath Keepers member William Wilson on Wednesday that after the Oath Keepers finished storming the Capitol, Rhodes collected the Oath Keepers leadership around 5 p.m. and walked down a few blocks to the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington DC.
According to the Justice Department, the group then huddled in a private suite, where Rhodes contacted an unidentified person on speakerphone and pressured the person to convince Trump to approve them to stop the transition of power after the Capitol attempt failed.
“Wilson overheard Rhodes pleading with the individual to convince President Trump to enlist the help of groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly block the transfer of power,” according to the memo. “This individual turned down Rhodes’ request to speak with President Trump directly.”
The unusual phone call implies that Rhodes was certain of two things: first, that he was close enough to the Trump confidant to publicly discuss such a request, and second, that the confidant was close enough to Trump to pass on the message.
According to the Guardian, Rhodes’ lawyer, James Lee Bright, is unsure who his client called or whether the call took place.
Wilson, the commander of the North Carolina branch of the Oath Keepers, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official action as part of a plea agreement, and the previously unreported phone call surfaced in charging documents on Wednesday.
Wilson was active in efforts to plan for January 6 with the Oath Keepers national leadership, according to the statement of offence, and Rhodes added Wilson to the “DC OP: Jan 6 21” group conversation on the encrypted Signal messaging programme.
The justice department stated that “Rhodes, Wilson, and co-conspirators used this Signal group chat and others to plot for January 6, 2021.”
On the morning of the Capitol attack, Rhodes verified on the group chat that they had many well-equipped QRFs outside DC — rapid reaction forces that the government believes we were ready to deploy to the Capitol with firearms and ammunition, according to the government.
Wilson surged into the Capitol through the upper West Terrace doors around 2.34 p.m., according to the justice department, as one of the first co-conspirators to breach the building, and by 2.38 p.m., he was helping to break open the rotunda doors from the inside.
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Wilson’s seditious conspiracy allegation, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, is the latest in a line of recent indictments against members of the Oath Keepers. Wilson is helping the Justice Department with its criminal investigation into the events on January 6.
The Justice Department is also looking into connections between the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, another militia group, as part of the criminal investigation into the January 6 attack, after receiving text messages revealing the two organisations were in contact before the Capitol attack.
According to the Guardian, the House select committee examining the Capitol incident believes the attack constituted a coordinated assault by the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s election victory.