Oath Keepers leader, during attack on Capitol, allegedly told followers 'Trump better do his damn duty'

Prosecutors say Stewart Rhodes spoke by phone with members during the riot.

March 25, 2021, 10:04 PM

As federal prosecutors appear to continue to home in on Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes for his potential role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, court documents describe further communications between Rhodes and members of the militia group during and after the attack, including an alleged message from Rhodes that suggests he was expecting President Donald Trump to take action during the attack.

Federal prosecutors alleged in the latest filing that Rhodes, identified as "Person One" -- which previous filings in the investigation have described as the Oath Keepers' leader and founder -- had a brief phone call with another Oath Keeper as that person positioned themselves among a group of rioters working to force open the east entrance to the Capitol just minutes before breaching the building.

According to prosecutors, Rhodes, referred to not by name but as "Person One," exchanged a 97-second phone call at around 2:32 p.m. with Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs, who's been charged in the Capitol riot conspiracy case, as Meggs and other members of a tactical "stack," dressed in militia gear, pushed through crowds to enter the Capitol.

Minutes later the stack of Oath Keepers forcibly entered the Capitol, according to the court filing.

Rhodes was photographed outside the Capitol building during the riot but no photographs show him inside the building.

He has not been charged with any crime and has denied coordinating or playing a role in the attack on the Capitol. He did not respond to a request from ABC News for comment.

Rioters march down the steps of the Capitol protesting against the certification of the 2020 presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021.
Jim Bourg/Reuters, FILE

The new evidence is part of prosecutors' effort to keep Jessica Watkins, one of the 10 alleged Oath Keepers charged in the Capitol riot conspiracy, detained until trial. Watkins has asked the court to be released, arguing that those communications, which prosecutors said were exchanged through the encrypted messaging platform Signal, do not contain evidence of a conspiracy to stop the Electoral College certification.

According to the government’s recent court filings, the call during the riot came after Rhodes, in previously revealed communications in which he was identified as "Person One," used a Signal group chat titled "DC OP: Jan 6 21," to share with other members a photograph of the Capitol with a caption that read "South side of US Capitol. Patriots pounding on doors."

Soon after, as Oath Keepers and others were inside the Capitol, Rhodes posted a photo showing people at the Capitol and wrote, "Trump better do his damn duty."

Other new messages included in the court filing show Rhodes at 5:50 p.m. asking leaders to "check to be sure you have all your team members. If anyone is missing, post here," and later in the evening sending a long message that served as a rallying cry, comparing the events of Jan. 6 to the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

"We have one FINAL chance to get Trump to do his job and his duty," Rhodes wrote according to prosecutors. "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."

Rhodes went on to say that it was most important for Trump to see the Capitol riot, adding, "I hope he got the message."

The following morning, on Jan. 7, Oath Keeper Joshua James allegedly messaged the group: "Trump conceded…its over. We lose."

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