Oath Keepers Leader Spoke On Phone With Capitol Rioter During Attack, Feds Allege

FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 28: Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, told The Washington Post via Getty Images, February 28, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas, that the government is trying to inflate the rogue actions of ... FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 28: Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, told The Washington Post via Getty Images, February 28, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas, that the government is trying to inflate the rogue actions of a few members into an alleged conspiracy committed by the organization on Jan. 6, 2021. (Photo by Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images) MORE LESS

Federal prosecutors on Wednesday released more communications tying the leader of the national Oath Keepers militia group to alleged Capitol rioters. 

Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers founder, has said that he didn’t enter the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack and that he gave no orders for others to do so. 

But prosecutors clearly have Rhodes in their sights. Referring to him as “Person 1,” the government has repeatedly cited Rhodes’ call for Oath Keepers to descend on Washington, D.C. in the days prior to the attack, and recently released communications showing he was allegedly in touch with rioters and even directed them to the south side of the Capitol building during the attack, where he allegedly reported that people were “pounding on doors.” 

On Thursday, responding to a motion from Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins asking a judge to reconsider her detention, prosecutors detailed more alleged communications between Rhodes and Oath Keepers who they say took part in the attack. 

According to the filing, Rhodes exchanged a 97-second phone call at around 2:32 p.m. with Kelly Meggs, one of the Oath Keepers who prosecutors say participated in a “stack” formation that surged toward the Capitol doors as rioters tried to force their way inside. 

Prosecutors say Rhodes was in a Signal chat group that included Meggs, as well as other defendants in the Capitol attack case including Watkins and Roberto Minuta and Joshua James.

Six minutes after the alleged call between Rhodes and Meggs, an unidentified individual in the chat referenced a so-called “quick reaction force” that’s come up in court filings before: an alleged group of people outside of D.C., awaiting orders to assist in the attack. 

“QRF standing by at hotel. Just said the word …” the message allegedly read. 

Minutes later, according to prosecutors, Rhodes sent the message about people pounding on doors at the south side of the Capitol. At around the same time, the “stack” of Oath Keepers forcibly entered the Capitol. 

The filing includes more of Rhodes’ alleged communications to the chat group, including the message, as rioters battled police in the Capitol, that “Trump better do his damn duty.” 

At 5:50 p.m., Rhodes messaged the group encouraging leaders to make sure they knew the location of their “team members.” 

Just under two hours later, according to prosecutors, the Oath keepers leader sent a message comparing the attack to the 18th century Tea Party, though he said the current situation was “more deadly”: 

The founding generation Sons of Liberty stormed the mansion of the corrupt Royal Governor of Massachusetts, and trashed the place. They also jumped on board a ship carrying East India Tea, and dumped it in the harbor. We are actually in a far more deadly situation given the FACT that enemies foreign and domestic have subverted, infiltrated, and taken over near every single office and level of power in this nation. We have one FINAL chance to get Trump to do his job and his duty. Patriots entering their own Capitol to send a message to the traitors is NOTHING compared to what’s coming if Trump doesn’t take decisive action right now. It helped to send that message to HIM. He was the most important audience today. I hope he got the message.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: