Amid the violence of last year’s Capitol riots, Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes gathered around a phone call with other extremists at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, DC, to see if they could speak directly with then-President Donald Trump. Can, say court documents.
The identity of the person called by Rhodes is not specified, but it appears he had access to Trump, as the person was able to decline Rhodes’ request to speak directly with the president.
It’s a significant revelation because who Trump spoke to while his supporters surrounded the Capitol has been a turning point for those investigating the attack. Investigators are also keenly interested in any possible collaboration between the White House and extremist groups seeking to prevent duly elected Joe Biden from becoming president.
The disclosure of the phone call came as part of the oath keeper’s guilty plea on charges related to the January 6, 2021 attack.
William Todd Wilson of North Carolina – who pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to treason – told federal investigators that he was in the room when Rhodes called, the day the mob stormed the Capitol.
Wilson, 44, is the third Oath Keepers member to plead guilty to a heavy charge of seditious conspiracy, after Georgia resident Brian Ulrich, 44, and Alabama resident Joshua James, 34. The far-right group is one of the largest anti-government “militias” active today.
According to Wilson’s statement of guilt, from a private suite in the hotel, Rhodes wanted Trump to “call out” groups like the Oath Keepers.
The document describes how the leaders of the Oath Keepers conspired to use force to prevent the peaceful transfer of the presidency from Trump to Biden. The extremists organized through encrypted messaging platforms and “armed themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were ready to respond to Rhodes’ call to take up arms,” it says.
The oath-takers stored a stockpile of weapons on the “outskirts” of Washington for easy access; Wilson’s hideout contained an AR-15-style rifle, a pistol, and about 200 rounds of ammunition.
Wilson believed that “the federal government is actively trying to take away the rights of American citizens by a group of elites,” his statement said. He was part of a group of Oath Keepers to break through the Capitol barricades as Rhodes called about a “civil war” and he eventually reached the Capitol Rotunda.
Wilson said that he met Rhodes and others for dinner later at a Vienna, Virginia, restaurant, where Rhodes spoke about “the need to prepare for a major battle against the government, similar to the American Revolutionary War”. continued to talk.
Open text messages between members of the group show how Rhodes used bombastic language in a draft letter to Trump about the potential for further violence, warning that “domestic enemy wolves will be at the door of all your supporters” and They will have “no choice” but to honor our oaths and to counter them when they come for us.”
As it became clear that he would be prosecuted for his role in the January 6 attack, Wilson said, he threw his phone into the Atlantic Ocean.
Rhodes, who founded Oath Keepers, along with several other members pleaded not guilty to seditious conspiracy earlier this year.