The founder of far-right group the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, his lieutenant, and three members of the militia who guarded the Donald Trump ally Roger Stone swapped numerous phone calls in a three-hour period on 6 January when the Capitol was attacked by a mob, prosecutors said on Thursday.
These exchanges coincided with the initial assault on police barricades outside Congress, and continued into when the three guards breached the US Capitol building, according to the Washington Post.
Prosecutors made this claim in a new indictment, which added two of these guards – Joshua James and Roberto Minuta – to an ongoing Oath Keepers conspiracy case. James and Minuta were both previously charged.
The case has 12 defendants, who are facing charges such as conspiracy, and obstruction of an official proceeding. Four of these co-defendants, including James and Minuta, have yet to enter pleas. The others have pleaded not guilty.
“In response to a call for individuals to head to the Capitol after the building was breached, James and Minuta drove to the Capitol in a golf cart, at times swerving around law enforcement vehicles, with Minuta stating, ‘Patriots are storming the Capitol … so we’re en route in a grand theft auto golf cart to the Capitol building right now … it’s going down guys’,” federal prosecutors said.
Rhodes has previously denied there was a plan to breach Congress and insisted that authorities were trying to establish a bogus conspiracy. “I may go to jail soon, not for anything I actually did, but for made-up crimes,” he remarked to Texas Republicans during a recent rally in Laredo.
Rhodes also implored ex-president Trump’s supporters to “not cower in fear”, maintaining that federal authorities were “trying to get rid of us so they can get to you”. Rhodes also reportedly said: “If we actually intended to take over the Capitol, we’d have taken it, and we’d have brought guns.”
Neither Rhodes nor Stone have yet been accused of wrongdoing, the Post noted.