Oath Keepers Witness Describes Leader's Effort To Advance Coup After Riot

Oath Keepers Witness Describes Leader's Effort To Advance Coup After Riot

Elmer Stewart Rhodes

Screenshot from ProPublica

Things appears to have gone from bad to worse for Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes, who faces seditious conspiracy charges for his role in the January 6 insurrection, after another member of the far-right militia group told investigators, as part of a plea deal, that Rhodes tried to contact Trump on the evening of the Capitol riot.

William Todd Wilson, an Oath Keeper from North Carolina, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding for his role in impeding the January 6 congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

Wilson and other Oath Keepers, according to the Justice Department, sought to forcibly halt the transfer of power from then-President Trump to then-President-Elect Biden, disrupting a crucial congressional session in the process.

On Wednesday, in plea documents, Wilson described under oath the Oath Keepers’ activities before, during, and after the insurrection. On the night of January 6, according to Wilson, after the armed group regrouped at the Phoenix Hotel, Rhodes placed a call to an individual he believed could connect him directly to Trump, and lobbied for the former president to mobilize the group for another round of violence.

“Rhodes then called an individual over speaker phone. Wilson heard Rhodes repeatedly implore the individual to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to oppose the transfer of power forcibly. This individual denied Rhodes’s request to speak directly with President Trump. After the call ended, Rhodes stated to the group, I just want to fight.’,” court documents reveal.

The phone call with the unidentified individual, which appears to show the Oath Keepers had a contact in Trump’s inner circle, was previously unknown as Wilson, who provided the testimony, wasn’t named in the initial conspiracy indictment filed in January, per multiple news reports.

"This individual denied Rhodes's request to speak directly with President Trump," the plea statement added.

Wilson is the third Oath Keepers member to admit to seditious conspiracy, but before now, none of the militia group’s members were accused of trying to contact Trump on the day of the siege at the Capitol.

In his plea document, Wilson said he’d “heard Rhodes discuss the potential need for Rhodes and co-conspirators to engage in force, up to and including lethal violence, in order to stop the transfer of power.”

Heeding the call to arms, Wilson arrived at a hotel room in Washington, D.C., ahead of the attack, armed to the teeth. He admitted in his plea document to bringing along an “AR-15-style rifle, a 9-millimeter pistol, approximately 200 rounds of ammunition, body armor, a camouflaged combat uniform, pepper spray, a large walking stick intended for use as a weapon, and a pocketknife,” according to CBS News.

According to court documents, Wilson, Rhodes, and 14 other members of the Oath Keepers “bypassed barricades and Capitol Police officers, and unlawfully entered the restricted grounds of the Capitol.”

Wilson said he tossed his cellphone into the Atlantic Ocean weeks after the attack to stymie any investigations into his actions. He now faces up to 20 years in prison for each of the two counts he pleaded guilty to.

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