UNITED STATES NEWS

Trial: Trump tweet about ‘wild’ protest energized extremists

Oct 13, 2022, 7:00 PM | Updated: Oct 14, 2022, 1:51 am

FILE - Members of the Oath Keepers on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washin...

FILE - Members of the Oath Keepers on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. A member of the Oath Keepers who traveled to Washington before the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol testified during the seditious conspiracy case against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022, about a massive cache of weapons the far-right extremist group stashed in a Virginia hotel room. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of the far-right Oath Keepers were ecstatic when then-President Donald Trump invited supporters to a “wild” protest in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, when Congress would be certifying the results of the 2020 election, according to messages shown Thursday during the seditious conspiracy trial for the militia group’s founder and four associates.

During an FBI agent’s testimony, jurors saw a string of online posts that Oath Keepers members in Florida exchanged after Trump’s tweet on Dec. 19, 2020, about a “big protest” at the upcoming joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. “Be there, will be wild!” Trump said.

“He wants us to make it WILD,” Kelly Meggs, an Oath Keepers leader from Dunnellon, Florida, wrote in a message to other group members. “He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!!”

Trump’s words appeared to energize Oath Keepers members. They used an encrypted messaging app to discuss their plans to be in the nation’s capital on Jan. 6, when, after a Trump rally near the White House, a mob stormed the Capitol and disrupted Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over the Republican incumbent.

“These will be flying Jan. 6 in front of the Capitol,” Meggs wrote in a post that included the image of an Oath Keepers flag.

Graydon Young, an Oath Keepers member from Florida who has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge, said he was going to Washington even though it “feels like a fool’s errand.” Oath Keepers founder and national leader Stewart Rhodes responded on Dec. 25, 2020, that he disagreed with that assessment.

“Trump needs to know we support him in using the Insurrection Act,” Rhodes wrote. “And he needs to know that if he fails to act, then we will.”

Rhodes added that he believed the Secret Service would be “happy to have us out there” if Trump “calls us up as militia.”

A key argument for Rhodes’ lawyers is that the Oath Keepers founder believed Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act, which gives the president broad authority to call up the military and decide what shape that force will take. Trump did float that kind of action at other points in his presidency.

Meggs and Rhodes, who’s from Granbury, Texas, are on trial with Thomas Caldwell of Berryville, Virginia; Kenneth Harrelson of Titusville, Florida; and Jessica Watkins of Woodstock, Ohio.

They are the first Capitol riot defendants to be tried on seditious conspiracy charges for what prosecutors said was a plot to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power. The Civil War-era charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

As testimony continued Thursday, the House Jan. 6 committee played a recording at its public hearing of Watkins saying, “It has spread like wildfire that (Vice President Mike) Pence has betrayed us” and “100 percent” of the crowd would be going to the Capitol right after a Trump tweet that had criticized Pence, as the Senate’s presiding officer, for not delaying or rejecting the certification of the Electoral College vote by Congress.

Defense lawyers have accused prosecutors of cherry-picking messages and have said there is no evidence the Oath Keepers had a plan to attack the Capitol.

The trial started last Monday and is expected to last more than a month.

Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet also was a focus of a July hearing by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.

One committee member, Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., said the tweet “served as a call to action and in some cases as a call to arms.” A second, Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., said it “electrified and galvanized” Trump supporters, including the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys and other far-right extremists.

Several members of the Proud Boys, including former national chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, also are charged with seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 attack and await a trial in December.

Thursday’s testimony for the Oath Keepers trial focused on members of the group’s Florida contingent and their communications in the days leading up to the riot.

In a chat for Oath Keepers members in Florida on the Signal messaging app, Rhodes said they should adopt the QAnon slogan “WWG1WGA,” which stands for “Where we go one, we go all.” QAnon is a conspiracy theory that has centered on the baseless belief that Trump was secretly fighting a cabal of Satan-worshipping “deep state” enemies, Hollywood elites and prominent Democrats.

“They come for one of us, they come for all of us,” Rhodes posted on Dec. 21, 2020. “When they come for us, we go for them.”

Kelly Meggs responded: “It’s easy to chat. The real question is who’s willing to DIE.”

Three days before the Capitol attack, Meggs sent a message to an associate that said, “1776 we are going to make history.”

“What happened in 1776?” Justice Department prosecutor Louis Manzo asked FBI Special Agent Kelsey Harris.

“The American revolution,” the agent replied.

___

For full coverage of the Capitol riot, go to https://www.apnews.com/capitol-siege

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

Associated Press

Kevin Bacon dances back to “Footloose” high school

PAYSON, Utah (AP) — Actor Kevin Bacon on Saturday returned to the Utah high school where the cult classic movie “Footloose” was filmed more than 40 years. Bacon danced his way to a stage on a Payson High School athletic field Saturday to greet students before what likely was the final prom held at the […]

50 minutes ago

Associated Press

Arkansas teen held on murder charge after fatal shooting outside party after high school prom

HELENA-WEST HELENA, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas teen is in custody on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the fatal shooting of a high school senior outside a party early Sunday following a high school prom. Donterious Stephens, 19, of Helena, turned himself in to authorities Sunday afternoon in the shooting death of Lorenzo […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Terry Anderson, AP reporter held captive for years, has died

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Terry Anderson, the globe-trotting Associated Press correspondent who became one of America’s longest-held hostages after he was snatched from a street in war-torn Lebanon in 1985 and held for nearly seven years, has died at 76. Anderson, who chronicled his abduction and torturous imprisonment by Islamic militants in his best-selling 1993 […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Suspect in killing of Idaho sheriff’s deputy fatally shot by police, authorities say

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho sheriff’s deputy died after being shot by a driver during a traffic stop, and a man believed to be the shooting suspect was later fatally shot by police, authorities said Sunday. Deputy Tobin Bolter was shot as he approached the driver’s window at about 9 p.m. Saturday in Boise, […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Woman, 18, dies after being shot at Delaware State University; campus closed

DOVER, Del. (AP) — An 18-year-old woman died after she was shot on the campus of Delaware State University on Sunday, authorities said. Dover police said officers responded at about 1:40 a.m. to a report of shots on the campus. Police said an 18-year-old Wilmington woman who was not a registered student was found with […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

North Carolina medical marijuana sales begin at Cherokee store

CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) — Medical marijuana can now be legally purchased in North Carolina with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opening its long-planned dispensary this weekend on tribal land. Hundreds of people, many with approved medical patient cards to purchase items, celebrated the historic opening of the Great Smoky Cannabis Co. on Saturday within […]

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Trial: Trump tweet about ‘wild’ protest energized extremists