On Election Day, the letter said, Mr. Rhodes said a “fair” vote count could only lead to Mr Trump’s victory and called on members of his group to “stock up on ammunition” and to prepare for a “full war in the streets.”
Key figures in the January 6 survey
Wearing his signature black eye patch – the result of a firearms accident – Mr. Rhodes has been a fixture on the far right almost from the day in 2009 he announced the creation of the Oath Keepers at a rally in Lexington, Massachusetts, the site of a famous Revolutionary War battle.
At the event, Mr. Rhodes set up an anti-government platform for current and former law enforcement and military personnel who joined his group, saying his plan was for members to disobey certain illegal orders from officials and instead obey the oath. would uphold the constitution.
During the Obama administration, oath officers have repeatedly engaged in prominent public conflicts, often playing the role of heavily armed vigilantes. In 2014, for example, they turned up on a Nevada cattle ranch after its owner, Cliven Bundy, engaged in an armed confrontation with federal land management officials. That same year, members of the group went to Ferguson, Mo., on a self-proclaimed mission to protect local businesses from riots following the death of Michael Brown, a black man shot by police.
After Mr. Trump took office, Mr. Rhodes and the Oath Keepers turned away from their anti-government views and seemed to embrace the new spirit of nationalism and suspicions of a deep state conspiracy that had taken root among some of the president’s supporters. . Like other far-right groups like the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers also resisted — often physically — the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
According to the indictment, Mr. Rhodes became more serious about preventing Mr. Biden from taking office in early January, the same month he began spending thousands of dollars on firearms, ammunition and other military-grade tactical equipment. Prosecutors have not accused him of bringing weapons into Washington on Jan. 6, but they have said that Mr. Vallejo and other members of the armed response force outside the city have discussed the possibility of “armed conflict” and “guerrilla warfare.”
Rhodes appeared to be enjoying the chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6, prosecutors said. The indictment notes that shortly after 3 p.m. that day, a member of his group chat Signal sent him a message saying that members of Congress had been “given gas masks and are trying to get out.” Mr. Rhodes is said to have responded with scornful obscenity.