Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes claimed to have contact with a Secret Service agent, ex-member testifies at trial




  • In Politics
  • 2022-10-06 17:15:11Z
  • By Business Insider
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017.
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington, on June 25, 2017.  
  • A former Oath Keepers member took the witness stand in the trial of Elmer Stewart Rhodes.

  • John Zimmerman recalled that the Oath Keepers leader claimed to have a Secret Service contact.

  • Rhodes called an unknown person the night of January 6 to try to speak directly with Trump.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes claimed he was in contact with a Secret Service agent in the months leading up to the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, a former member of the far-right group testified at trial Thursday.

Federal prosecutors called John Zimmerman, a former Oath Keepers member, to testify Thursday in the trial of Rhodes and four others charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Capitol siege.

In his testimony, Zimmerman recalled how the Oath Keepers gathered guns in preparation for the possibility that then-President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act - a move the group saw as giving it standing to step in and forcibly prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

Asked whether he was aware of any direct connection between Trump and Rhodes, Zimmerman answered, "Not that I recall specifically."

"But," Zimmerman added, "he did have a number for a Secret Service agent - or claimed to be a Secret Service agent - back in September."

Zimmerman testified that he witnessed a phone call between Rhodes and his purported Secret Service contact in September 2020 at a Trump rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He heard only one side of the call and could not confirm that Rhodes' contact was, in fact, an active Secret Service agent.

The testimony offered a potential clue in a mystery that has hung over Rhodes' prosecution.

In a separate case against an Oath Keeper, prosecutors said Rhodes attempted on the night of January 6 to speak with Trump directly and urge him to call on groups to block the certification of President Joe Biden's electoral victory. Rhodes placed the call over speakerphone and "repeatedly implored the individual to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose the transfer of power," prosecutors said in a May court filing.

The recipient of the call has so far gone unidentified. Once that person declined to connect him with Trump and hung up, Rhodes turned to the group gathered with him inside a Washington, DC, hotel suite and said, "I just want to fight," according to the court filing.

This is a developing story.

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