Oath Keeper Accused of Bringing Explosives to DC for Jan. 6
The allegations came days before the House Jan. 6 committee is due to hold its next hearing on Tuesday, which is expected to explore ties between extremist groups accused of playing a key role in the violence on Capitol Hill and government efforts. former President Donald Trump to overthrow the 2020 election through false allegations of voter fraud.
In a 28-page filing, prosecutors said a Jan. 19, 2021, law enforcement search of the home of co-accused Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer from Berryville, Va., had recovered a document that included the words “DEATH LIST” handwritten across the top with the name of a Georgian election official and an alleged family member of the official. Both have been the target of baseless accusations that they were involved in voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, prosecutors said.
“The fact that Caldwell compiled and kept a ‘death list’ of officials involved in the presidential election process – at the same time as he was preparing to travel to Washington, D.C. – illustrates his actions during the alleged conspiracy and intent to forcibly oppose the transfer of power,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy A. Edwards Jr. of Washington, referring to the seditious conspiracy charge against the Oath Keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes, and eight others, including Caldwell.
On Friday evening, Caldwell’s attorney, David Fischer, released a statement from his client dismissing the allegation, which prosecutors first raised when arguing for Caldwell’s remand in February 2021. A judge has since granted Caldwell parole.
“The DOJ’s claim that I intended to assassinate election workers is an absolute lie and 100% disgusting. Unfortunately, the DOJ has withheld the evidence that exonerates me from public view by hiding me behind protective orders,” the statement read.
Separately, Edwards said the government has evidence that members of the group from Florida and Arizona staged semi-automatic rifles and other weapons at a hotel in suburban Washington while a third North Carolina team kept their firearms “ready for use” in a vehicle in the parking lot.
The prosecutor claimed that another Rhodes co-defendant, allegedly Florida state ‘ringleader’ Kelly Meggs, told a cooperating defendant who pleaded guilty under a cooperation agreement. with the government that another member of the Florida group, Jeremy Brown, had come to Washington with explosives in his recreational vehicle, which he left parked in College Park, Maryland. Brown, who pleaded not guilty to the Jan. 6 counts, is not charged in the indictment with seditious conspiracy, but was described by prosecutors as a “co-conspirator.”
The government last September reportedly seized weapons of Brown, including two illegal short-barreled firearms from his home in Tampa and military grenades from the “same RV that Brown used to drive to Washington, DC on January 6,” the prosecutor claimed.
Reserve counsel for Brown — a retired special forces soldier and former congressional candidate who is defending himself but was detained pending trial on separate federal weapons charges in Florida — did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
The latest U.S. allegations have been contained in a court filing required because prosecutors seek to introduce derogatory evidence at the oath-keepers’ trial scheduled for September 26 that is not directly related to the offenses with which they are charged. Federal criminal rules generally prohibit such extraneous material, but make an exception for relevant information that allegedly shows motive, intent of a larger conspiracy, or is otherwise “intrinsic” to a case.
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Prosecutors said the defendants face charges including conspiring to bribe Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results and opposing the swearing-in of President Biden by force. The charging documents allege the group coordinated travel, equipment and firearms and stashed weapons outside of Washington, ready “to heed Rhodes’ call to take up arms under the towards Rhodes”.
“Caldwell’s trips to Washington, DC, for January 6, as evidenced by his statements, were informed by the belief that the election was fraudulent and that the lawful transfer of presidential power must be thwarted by force. His writings targeting election workers are directly relevant to this point,” Edwards said.
Edwards added: “Brown’s statements, firearms and explosives are intrinsic to the offense charged against the co-conspirators as contemporaneous and direct evidence of the manner and means used by the co-conspirators to advance the objectives of the accused conspiracy.”
In plea documents, three defendant oath-keepers who pleaded guilty to charges of seditious conspiracy admitted to being part of a group that forced entry through the rotunda doors after walking in single file through a pile on the steps wearing camouflage vests, helmets, goggles and Oathkeepers badge. They acknowledged that some had brought guns to Washington that had been previously hidden in a Ballston hotel and another in Vienna.
Rhodes, Caldwell and the remaining co-defendants pleaded not guilty. Rhodes, in an interview with The Washington Post in March 2021, said there were no plans to breach the Capitol. He said the group had staged guns in northern Virginia in case it was needed as a ‘quick reaction force’ if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act and mobilized armed groups to hold on. in power. Rhodes’ attorney declined to comment Friday night on the government’s latest allegations.
The attack on the Capitol came after a rally outside the White House, during which Trump urged his supporters to go to Congress. Rioters injured dozens of police officers and ransacked Capitol offices, halting proceedings as lawmakers were evacuated from the House floor.
Separately, a lawyer for Rhodes said he contacted the House committee on January 6 earlier Friday to offer to testify before him on the condition that he be allowed to appear live, in person and without modification, and not from the prison where he is in pre-trial detention.
Rhodes “is not interested in any games,” attorney Lee Bright said, and would speak about his group’s activities during the last election and Jan. 6, waiving his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Bright said the committee appeared to view Rhodes’ conditions as a practical matter, that such an appearance would likely be a court order from the judge, input from prosecutors in his criminal case and transportation by the US Marshals Service.