Prosecutors Share New Evidence in Capitol Riot Conspiracy Case: NPR


Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol Building on January 6.

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Brent Stirton / Getty Images

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol Building on January 6.

Brent Stirton / Getty Images

The founder of the Oath Keepers militia had a 97-second phone call with a prominent member of the group who, minutes later, participated in forming a military-style “stack” with other division guards to breach the US Capitol on January 6, the Guardian reported. To the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office.

This allegation appeared in court papers that the Justice Department filed overnight in the case against 10 alleged members or associates of Oath Keepers facing a conspiracy and other charges related to the Capitol riots.

Prosecutors allege that the call, along with a series of text messages in an encrypted chat group titled “DC OP: 6 21 Jan,” amounts to “substantial evidence” of a plot to try to stop congressional approval of the Electoral College count.

The deposit further sheds light on the January 6 proceedings by Stuart Rhodes, who founded Oath Keepers in 2009. Rhodes was only identified as the “first person” in the document but was identified as the founder of the group in previous court papers.

No indictment has been brought against Rhodes in connection with the Capitol Rebellion at this point, but the most recent court document and past statements of prosecutors indicate that investigators are closely scrutinizing his actions on and around January 6.

In the most recent file, prosecutors alleged that Rhodes called Florida Commander Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs at 2:32 pm on January 6, just as Meggs and several of his associates were forming a “stack” to push the steps of the Capitol Building. .

It is not clear what the two men talked about, but prosecutors noted that after about 6 minutes, the militia members who had coalesced into “forcibly” pile formation “entered the Capitol by bypassing the just-open Capitol doors and inflicting massive damage.”

The latest government file has been filed opposing the pre-trial release of one of the 10 defendants in the case, Jessica Watkins, who the government says is a militia leader in Ohio and a member of the Oath Keepers.

Prosecutors allege Watkins was in a chat group on the encrypted messaging app Signal called “DC OP: 6 January 21” with Meggs, Rhodes and two other Oath Keepers charged over the Capitol riots.

The government says it used chat to talk about weapons to be brought into Washington, DC, about the use of portable radios to communicate on January 6, and about the presence of so-called rapid reaction forces waiting outside Washington with weapons in “worst case”. Case scenarios.

In Signal’s conversation on the day of the riot, prosecutors said shortly after 1 p.m., Rhodes sent a message to the group: “All I see Trump is doing is complaining. I don’t see any intention on his part to do anything. So the patriots are taking the matter alone. They had enough. “

At around 2:15 p.m., prosecutors say, one of the chat participants told the group that land had been taken at the Capitol and “we need to regroup any members who are not on mission,” an apparent reference to the department guards who were providing “security.” In Washington during the Trump rally.

At about 2:32 pm, the government says, Rhodes “exchanged a 97-second call with the Stack member and Florida Oath Keepers leader, Kelly Miggs, as Meggs, Watkins, and the rest of the group merged among the rebels trying to force the eastern side of the Capitol build double doors.” The officers were They are desperately trying to shut it down

Minutes later, rioters – including the section guards – rushed through the doors and entered the building.

At around 4 p.m., several of the now accused section guards, including Watkins and Megs, gathered around Rhodes outside the Capitol.

About two hours later, Rhodes sent a message to Signal’s chat again, telling the group: “Check the leaders to make sure you have all of your team members. If anyone is missing, post them here.”

That evening, Rhodes texted the chat again with a long message saying that the most important audience for what happened on the Capitol building that day was President Donald Trump at the time.

Rhodes wrote, “I hope he has received the letter.”

The government says the evidence supports the theory that the defendants stormed the Capitol building “with a shared goal of using force to overturn the presidential transition process.”

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