Defendants attack U.S. ‘manipulation’ of evidence in Oath Keepers trial


In closing arguments Monday, attorneys for three of the five Oath Keepers accused in a seditious conspiracy trial on Jan. 6, 2021, in the Capitol riots accused federal prosecutors of tampering with evidence by omitting key messages and obstructing the attack.

Prosecutors urged jurors to convince Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four co-defendants, citing “overwhelming” testimony “right before your eyes.”

“Make no mistake, hey [Rhodes] he wanted to start a civil war,” Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey S. Nestler said. “They wanted to attack the government they saw on fire. Their opinions prove the cause of the government.”

US District Judge Amit P. Mehta sent the case to a jury after an eight-week trial, with 46 witnesses and hundreds of witnesses. The judges are set to begin deliberations at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, take the rest of Thanksgiving week off, if no decision is reached, and resume deliberations next week.

Feds: Oath-guards sought ‘violent overthrow’ of government

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Defense attorney Bradford Geyer accused his client Kenneth Harrelson of not being the chief on Jan. 6. Jurors didn’t see Harrelson’s communications — not because he deleted them, as prosecutors said, but because he wasn’t a party to the plan, Geyer argued. .

“It’s not about scary words anymore,” says Geyer, “which is bad enough. Now you will be asked to confirm what you thought.”

Harrelson said he was apolitical, only agreed to march to DC on June 4, 2021, and never had the intention of entering the Capitol, although he did so as part of a pile of Oath Keepers on the east side of the building.

Geyer and Jonathan Crisp, the attorney for the defendant Jessica Watkins, criticized the way prosecutors present and address the evidence. “Government manipulation or deception.” Prosecutors noted that conversations on the app showed the sign, used by Rhodes and many other members before and on January 6, but omitted some posts and badly implied that Watkins replied that he did not respond to the messages.

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Watkins went to the Capitol to stand up and apologize for it.

Crisp noted that prosecutors never asked Watkins, during his testimony, if he would stop the certification scheme. The plan is to destroy the government. … He never asked about it.”

He said to the accusers: “He will put anything before you, to lie and twist it. If they go to this top of the narrative, for the context, they have no credibility.

Crisp and David Fischer, an attorney for Virginia resident Thomas Caldwell, both said their clients believed that by 2:20 p.m. on January 6, when members of Congress left, the confirmation was complete. Therefore, Watkins and Caldwell had no intention of disrupting the electoral college.

“Can you stop something that has already been stopped?” Curl asked. “How do you kill the dead?” But the election of the college was only delayed, and after about six hours it was closed.

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Congressman Nesler replied that he was not dead. He argued that Watkins and Caldwell were communicating with people outside the city and knew the count was not perfect.

Fischer noted that Caldwell had no communication with Rhodes after mid-November. Fischer also said the administration initially accused Caldwell of being the leader of the Oath Guard who entered the Capitol, allegations prosecutors later dropped. Caldwell was not found in any of the Oath Keepers newspaper records of chats or phone meetings, and he only communicated with the North Carolina Oath Keepers group, which was split from Rhode, Fischer said.

Caldwell is accused of coordinating the “Voice Reaction Force” with an arsenal of guns based at the Arlington hotel, but “why don’t the Oath Keepers have to coordinate the QRF?” Fischer he asked. “Sir. Caldwell had no contact with Stewart Rhodes. He had no contact with the Oath Keepers on January 6th. He is the coordinator of the QRF? What is this work?”


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