Testimony: Oath Keepers ready to use ‘any means necessary’

Oct 18, 2022, 3:40 PM | Updated: Oct 19, 2022, 9:50 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Oath Keepers extremists were prepared to use “any means necessary” on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral victory, a member of the group testified Tuesday.

The testimony from Jason Dolan came in the trial of Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right militia group, and four associates facing seditious conspiracy and other charges.

Dolan, who has pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in the U.S. Capitol attack, is the first Oath Keepers member to take the stand as part of a cooperation deal with prosecutors as he seeks a lighter sentence in his own criminal case.

As he testified Tuesday, federal agents showed jurors the pistol and semiautomatic rifle Dolan brought with him to the Washington area. He said he and others were willing to take up arms if necessary to keep Republican President Donald Trump in office.

“It seemed to me a lot of us were prepared — I was prepared — to stop the certification process one way or the other,” Dolan said. When asked by the prosecutor how they would achieve that goal, Dolan responded: “By any means necessary. That’s why we brought our firearms.”

Dolan is the first of several Oath Keepers with cooperation deals with the government who are expected to testify in the seditious conspiracy case against Rhodes and his associates.

They are the first among hundreds of people arrested in connection with the Capitol riot to stand trial on seditious conspiracy, a rare Civil War-era charge that calls for up to 20 years behind bars. The stakes are high for the Justice Department, which last secured such a conviction at trial nearly 30 years ago.

Dolan’s testimony could undermine Rhodes’ argument that he was acting in anticipation of orders he expected from Trump — orders that never came.

Rhodes’ attorneys have said he will take the stand to argue that he believed Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act and call up a militia to put down what he saw as a coup. While Trump never did that, Rhodes’ lawyers say his actions should be seen not as sedition but as lobbying a president to utilize a law. The group ultimately did not use the massive stash of weapons — dubbed a “quick reaction force” and stored in a hotel room in nearby Virginia — that included weapons Dolan and others brought with them.

Dolan said he believed that if Trump had invoked the Insurrection Act, which gives the president wide discretion to decide when military force is necessary, there would have been “factions of the federal government fighting against other factions of the federal government.” But Dolan told jurors that the Oath Keepers were prepared to act no matter what Trump did.

“If the president wasn’t going to act, we would have to act,” he said.

Dolan, a 46-year-old former Marine from Wellington, Florida, pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding. The judge said at the time that federal sentencing guidelines call for a term of more than five years to six-and-a-half years behind bars, though prosecutors may seek less time in exchange for his cooperation.

Dolan testified that he joined the Oath Keepers in 2020, after he quit his job at a hotel to recover from a surgery that failed to fix ongoing hip problems from his military service. At the time he joined, he told the court, he was trying to numb the pain with alcohol and spending hours a day in his garage scrolling through his phone, watching videos about the 2020 election and growing angrier and more convinced of Trump’s false claims of widespread election fraud.

Rhodes’ attorneys have suggested that they will try to paint the cooperating Oath Keeper witnesses as liars who flipped under pressure by the Justice Department. Three Oath Keepers who have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy could also take the stand to testify against Rhodes, including a man who has said Rhodes instructed the Oath Keepers to be ready to use lethal force if necessary to keep Trump in the White House.

Dolan described how the mood of the crowd at the Capitol changed from joyful to angry when it became clear that Vice President Mike Pence was not going to hold up the certification. As the Oath Keepers approached the Capitol steps, people started calling to them and parted the way for them to pass as they stormed the building with hundreds of rioters, Dolan said.

At the time, it was gratifying to be recognized, Dolan said. Now, looking back, he said he feels much differently and wants to take responsibility for what he did. “I think I was pretty naïve, and downright stupid with some of my decisions,” he said.

On trial with Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, are Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers; Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida Oath Keeper; Thomas Caldwell, a retired U.S. Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group. They face several other charges as well.

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

AP

FILE - People visit Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, on...
Associated Press

Disney World unions vote down offer covering 45,000 workers

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Union members voted down a contract proposal covering tens of thousands of Walt Disney World service workers, saying it didn’t go far enough toward helping employees face cost-of-living hikes in housing and other expenses in central Florida. The unions said that 13,650 out of 14,263 members who voted on the contract […]
9 hours ago
Jessica Day-Weaver holds a ceramic hand print of her daughter, Anastasia, at her home, Thursday, Fe...
Associated Press

‘Died suddenly’ posts twist tragedies to push vaccine lies

Results from 6-year-old Anastasia Weaver’s autopsy may take weeks. But online anti-vaccine activists needed only hours after her funeral this week to baselessly blame the COVID-19 vaccine. A prolific Twitter account posted Anastasia’s name and smiling dance portrait in a tweet with a syringe emoji. A Facebook user messaged her mother, Jessica Day-Weaver, to call […]
9 hours ago
FILE - This Dec. 21, 2022, image provided by Eisai in January 2023 shows vials and packaging for th...
Associated Press

Why a new Alzheimer’s drug is having a slow US debut

The first drug to show that it slows Alzheimer’s is on sale, but treatment for most patients is still several months away. Two big factors behind the slow debut, experts say, are scant insurance coverage and a long setup time needed by many health systems. Patients who surmount those challenges will step to the head […]
9 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks on the January jobs report in the Eisenhower Executive Office Bui...
Associated Press

State of the Union: Biden sees economic glow, GOP sees gloom

WASHINGTON (AP) — Going into Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Joe Biden sees a nation with its future aglow. Republicans take a far bleaker view — that the country is beset by crushing debt and that Biden is largely responsible for inflation. And the GOP now holds a House majority intent on blocking […]
9 hours ago
Sri Lankan government soldiers march carrying national flags during the 75th Independence Day cerem...
Associated Press

Sri Lanka marks independence anniversary amid economic woes

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka marked its 75th independence anniversary on Saturday as a bankrupt nation, with many citizens angry, anxious and in no mood to celebrate. President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who has started to improve some but not all of the acute shortages, acknowledged the somber state of the nation, saying in a […]
1 day ago
FILE - President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Cong...
Associated Press

Biden makes progress on ‘unity agenda’ outlined in 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — A year ago, President Joe Biden used his first State of the Union address to push top Democratic priorities that were sure to face a battle in the narrowly divided Congress but he also laid out a four-pronged “unity agenda” that would be an easier sell. Biden’s unity goals would be hard […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Prep the plumbing in your home just in time for the holidays

With the holidays approaching, it's important to know when your home is in need of heating and plumbing updates before more guests start to come around.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Testimony: Oath Keepers ready to use ‘any means necessary’