There is no plan to attack the Capitol on January 6th

There is no plan to attack the Capitol on January 6th

WASHINGTON (AP) – Oathkeeper Leader Stewart Rhodes he told jurors Monday that there was no plan for him a group of extremists that attacked the US Capitol On January 6, 2021, as he tries to clear his name in his seditious conspiracy trial.

On the second day, he takes a stand in his defenseRhodes testified that he had no idea that his followers would join the pro-Trump mob to storm the Capitol and that he was upset after learning that some had done so.

Rhodes said he believed it was foolish for any Oath Keeper to enter the Capitol. He insisted that this was not their “mission”.

“There was no plan to enter the building for any purpose,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes is on trial with four others for what prosecutors said was a plot to stage an armed insurrection to stop the transfer of presidential power from Republican Donald Trump to Democrat Joe Biden. Prosecutors tried to show that for the Oath Keepers, the riots at the time were not a momentary protest but part of a serious, week-long conspiracy.

Defense of Rhodes is mostly focused on his idea that his rhetoric was intended to persuade Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, which gives the president broad discretion to decide when military force is necessary and what qualifies as military force. Rhodes told jurors he believes it would be legal for Trump to invoke the act and call out the militia in response to what he believes to be an “unconstitutional” and “invalid” election.

“All my effort was in what Trump might do,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes did not make clear what he would like the militia to do after Trump called him. But he said that obstructing the certification of votes was not one of his goals and that he expected it to be certified.

Prosecutors say Rhodes’ own words show he used the Sedition Act as legal cover and would act regardless of what Trump did. When they have a chance to question Rhodes this week, they’re likely to point to messages like the one Rhodes sent in December 2020, in which he said Trump “needs to know that if he fails to act, so do we.”

Rhodes also addressed another key part of the prosecution’s case: the massive arsenal of weapons the Oath Keepers kept at a hotel in nearby Virginia. Prosecutors say the weapons were part of a so-called rapid reaction force that the group could quickly deploy to Washington.

Rhodes claimed the weapon was not there for that purpose and said it would take a long time to load it into a vehicle to bring it into the city.

Rhodes did not go to the Capitol on Jan. 6 and prosecutors described him as “a general overseeing his troops on the battlefield.” Rhodes said he only went to the Capitol to find his Oath Keeper followers who weren’t on security “missions” protecting figures like Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant. Rhodes said he didn’t even realize one of his men had entered the Capitol until he saw him in an FBI photo.

Prosecutors spent weeks methodically laying out evidence showing Rhodes and Oath Keepers discussing the prospect of violence before Jan. 6 and the need to keep Biden out of the White House at all costs.

Among their key witnesses were two former Rhodes followers who pleaded guilty to the attack on the Capitol and agreed to cooperate with investigators in the hope of receiving a lighter sentence. One told jurors that the Oath Keepers were prepared to stop the confirmation of Biden’s election victory by “any means,” including taking away guns.

Three Oath Keepers who pleaded guilty seditious conspiracy and the agreements reached on cooperation with the prosecutors were not put on the agenda. It is not clear why.

The defendants are the first among hundreds of people arrested in the Capitol riot to stand trial on Civil War-era charges that carry up to 20 years behind bars. The Justice Department last handed down such a conviction in a trial nearly 30 years ago and plans to try two more groups on the charges later this year.

On trial with Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, are Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida chapter of Oath Keepers; Kenneth Harrelson, another Oath Keeper in Florida; Thomas Caldwell, a retired US Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led a militia group in Ohio. They face few charges other than the sedition conspiracy.


Follow AP’s coverage of the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol in https://apnews.com/hub/capitol-siege.

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