Oath Keepers founder tried to phone Trump on Jan. 6, group member told court

WASHINGTON — The Oath Keepers founder facing seditious conspiracy charges attempted to speak directly with President Donald Trump on the night of Jan. 6, 2021, and implored an intermediary to tell the president to use militias to stop the transfer of power, a fellow Oath Keepers member said in court on Wednesday.

William Todd Wilson, a member of the far-right militia who pleaded guilty Wednesday to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of official process in connection with the Jan. 6 riot, said in federal court that he joined the founder of Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, in a sequel. at the Phoenix Park Hotel not far from the Capitol shortly after the attack and listened to Rhodes call an unnamed Trump intermediary on speakerphone.

As he listened, he heard Rhodes “repeatedly imploring the individual to tell President Trump to call on groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose a transfer of power,” Wilson and prosecutors said. The person on the phone “refused Rhodes’ request to speak directly with President Trump,” according to the Statement of offense agreed in the Wilson case.

Such a phone call, which Wilson said was made just after 5 p.m., allegedly took place while rioters were still being evacuated from the Capitol grounds, after Trump tweeted a video calling the rioters a “very special” but before tweeting, at 6:01 p.m., “Remember this day forever!”

Jonathan Moseley, a disbarred attorney who worked with Rhodes, said Wednesday night that the Oath Keepers “always didn’t care that they had a way to talk to Trump or his team.”

Lawyers for Rhodes, who pleaded not guilty, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday evening. But they pushed back comments to CNN.

“None of them show evidence of a real plan to do anything yet,” said Phillip Linder, one of Rhodes’ lawyers.

Wilson cooperated with the FBI and Justice Department’s Jan. 6 investigation and agreed as part of his plea deal to testify before grand juries and at jury trials if necessary.

Reporters from NBC News and CNN waited outside the courtroom ahead of Wilson’s plea hearing on Wednesday as Wilson, his attorneys and government officials discussed the logistics of Wilson’s upcoming testimony before a federal grand jury .

Wilson was the third member of the Oath Keepers to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy. In a separate hearing following Wilson’s guilty plea, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta agreed to release Arizona oath-keeper Edward Vallejo, who also faces a seditious conspiracy charge, until at his trial.

The FBI has arrested nearly 800 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and more than 250 defendants have pleaded guilty. Federal authorities have the names of hundreds more who have yet to be arrested, and the Biden administration has requested more resources to pursue the cases already underway and the hundreds more expected to come.

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