Witness: Oath Keepers head tried to reach Trump after Jan. 6

Nov 2, 2022, 10:45 AM | Updated: Nov 3, 2022, 12:15 pm
FILE - Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during...

FILE - Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017. A witness testified Wednesday that Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes tried to get a message to then-President Donald Trump days after the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection through an intermediary. He wanted to urge Republican to fight to stay in power and "save the republic." (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Days after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes tried to get a message to then-President Donald Trump that urged him to fight to stay in power and “save the republic,” according to trial testimony on Wednesday.

Rhodes said in his message — given to an intermediary — that the Oath Keepers would support the Republican president if he invoked the Insurrection Act and called them up as a militia.

The message never made it to Trump. The intermediary — a Texas software developer and military veteran who testified he had an indirect way to reach the president — was taken aback by it and went to the FBI instead.

“That’s asking for civil war on American ground … that means blood is going to be shed on streets where your family is,” Jason Alpers told jurors. He decided not to pass along Rhodes’ words. “It would have wrapped me into agreeing with that ideology in some way, which I did not.”

Jurors also heard a recording Alpers made of his meeting with Rhodes in a parking lot, where the Oath Keepers leaders said “we should have brought rifles,” in reference to the Capitol riot. The group did have a large stash of weapons in a hotel room in nearby Virginia, but didn’t use them that day. FBI agents also traced more than $17,000 in firearm parts, magazines, ammunition and other items Rhodes purchased after the insurrection.

Alpers testified as prosecutors began to wrap up their case against Rhodes and four associates in the most serious case stemming from the Jan. 6 attack to go to trial yet. Prosecutors sought to show that Rhodes continued plotting to stop the transfer of presidential power even after the Capitol riot, which delayed the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

Alpers’ connection to Trump is unclear, and he didn’t elaborate on how he could have gotten the message to him. Alpers went to the FBI a few months later with the recording of his mid-January 2021 meeting with Rhodes.

The two men had a mutual acquaintance and Alpers agreed to meet the antigovernment group leader to potentially pass along a message to Trump. He met Rhodes with a group of supporters in a parking lot of an electronics store in the Dallas area.

Alpers recorded the meeting with a thumb-drive recording device to protect himself and ensure he had an accurate depiction of the message, he said. After chatting with Alpers, Rhodes wrote down a message on Alpers’ phone for the president.

In it, Rhodes implored Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and promised that the Oath Keepers would support him if he did.

“You must use the Insurrection Act and use the power of presidency to stop him. All us veterans will support you,” Rhodes wrote. If Trump didn’t act, Rhodes warned that Trump and his children would “die in prison.” In the meeting, Rhodes also vented his frustration with the president to his new acquaintance.

“If he’s not going to do the right thing and he’s just gonna let himself be removed illegally then we should have brought rifles,” Rhodes said, according to the recording of meeting. “We should have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang (expletive) Pelosi from the lamppost,” Rhodes said, referring to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Rhodes and his co-defendants are the first among hundreds of people arrested in 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, and intends to try two more groups on the charge later this year.

Rhodes’ lawyers have said their client didn’t commit seditious conspiracy because he believed Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act and call up the Oath Keepers as a militia to put down what Rhodes saw as a coup by Democrats.

The Insurrection Act gives presidents broad authority to call up the military and decide what shape that force will take. Trump floated invoking it at other times in his presidency but never did. Rhodes’ lawyers have argued their client was merely lobbying a president to utilize a law.

While questioning Alpers on the stand, defense attorneys sought to portray the message as another bombastic way to call on an elected official to invoke a law. Alpers also acknowledged that he didn’t turn over the recording to the FBI immediately, saying he initially didn’t want to get involved.

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.

___

Associated Press writer Alanna Durkin Richer in Boston contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of Jan. 6 at https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege

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

AP

Officers stand by a police van as they leave the grounds of the courthouse complex after the trial ...
Associated Press

UK man to plead guilty to manslaughter in wife’s death

PAPHOS, Cyprus (AP) — Defense lawyers for a British man on trial for causing the death of his wife in Cyprus’ coastal resort town of Paphos said Monday they’re hopeful the court will suspend any sentence it hands down to their client after he pleads guilty to manslaughter next week. Briton David Hunter faced a […]
7 hours ago
FILE - In this photo released by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, Chinese troops line up...
Associated Press

Japan aims to boost 5-year defense spending to $318 billion

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Monday set a new target for military spending over the next five years to 43 trillion yen ($318 billion), or 1.5 times the current level, as the country seeks defense buildup including the use of preemptive strike. Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Kishida told him and […]
7 hours ago
FILE An oil tanker is moored at the Sheskharis complex, part of Chernomortransneft JSC, a subsidiar...
Associated Press

Russian oil price cap, EU ban aim to limit Kremlin war chest

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Oil prices rose Monday as the first strong measures to limit Russia’s oil profits over the war in Ukraine took effect, bringing with them uncertainty about how much crude could be lost to the global economy through the new sanctions or Russian retaliation. International benchmark Brent crude rose 2% to $87.30 […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Liz Weston: Make the most of new rules for charitable giving

Most people no longer get a tax deduction when they donate to charity. That shouldn’t keep you from making donations, but you may want to change your approach. Typically, only taxpayers who itemize deductions can write off charitable contributions. The vast majority of taxpayers instead take the standard deduction, which was nearly doubled by the […]
7 hours ago
FILE - A French artillery piece Caesar is displayed at the Eurosatory land and airland defense and ...
Associated Press

Report: Ukraine war ups arms sales but challenges lie ahead

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Global arms sales increased by nearly 2% in 2021, the seventh consecutive year of increases, an international arms sales watchdog noted Monday. It added that the war in Ukraine had increased demand for weapons this year, but the conflict may also lead to a supply challenge, not least because Russia is a […]
7 hours ago
In this photo provided by Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar's Twitter handle, Jaishankar and Ge...
Associated Press

India signals it will continue to buy oil from Russia

NEW DELHI (AP) — India will prioritize its own energy needs and continue to buy oil from Russia, its foreign minister signaled Monday, as Western governments press Moscow with a price cap to squeeze its earnings from oil exports. Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar made the comments after holding talks with his visiting German […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
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.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Witness: Oath Keepers head tried to reach Trump after Jan. 6