William Todd Wilson, leader of the North Carolina branch of Oath Keepers, said Rhodes placed a megaphone call to an unidentified person, according to court filings.
“Wilson heard Rhodes repeatedly plead with him to tell President Trump to call on groups like the Oaths to oppose a forcible transfer of power,” Wilson said in his plea. “This person refused Rhodes’ request to speak directly with President Trump.”
The phone call occurred when Rhodes and others were in a private suite in a Washington, D.C. hotel on January 6 after the attack, according to Wilson court procedures. The person refused and did not link Rhodes to Trump.
“After the call ended, Rhodes told the group, ‘I just want to fight,'” the suit read.
Rhodes has pleaded not guilty, and two attorneys for Rhodes said Wednesday that they were unaware of any time Rhodes had been in direct contact with Trump, nor had they heard of the call before.
Wilson pleaded guilty Wednesday to seditious conspiracy, the third person to plead guilty to attempting to overthrow the Biden presidency, as well as obstruction. He will cooperate with the prosecution in escalating their investigations into the events of January 6th.
Wilson, the 44-year-old veteran, had never been charged before the Justice Department announced the plea deal, making his hearing before a DC District Court judge a surprise.
Nine defendants accused of a seditious plot linked to the department guards are currently on trial.
At the hearing, Wilson said he heard Rhodes discuss the use of lethal violence to stop Congress’ approval of a presidential vote.
Wilson also said he contributed firearms to a so-called “rapid reaction force” planned by the group that was set up at a hotel in Arlington, Virginia. Prosecutors allege that the effort was so that members of the department’s guards could rush into the Capitol if Rhodes asked them to.
Separately, Wilson attended an important online meeting of department guards in November 2020, at which Rhodes allegedly outlined plans to disrupt the Biden presidency and urged others to participate, according to court records.
According to court documents, Wilson stored an AR-15, a 9mm pistol, and about 200 rounds of ammunition in his hotel room, which Rhodes paid for.
Wilson, armed with a pocket knife, entered the Capitol on January 6, pursuant to a plea agreement. As he moved toward the building, Wilson heard Rhodes say they were in the midst of a “civil war.” Wilson later entered the building in an effort to stop the transfer of presidential power and gather “intelligence,” according to a plea agreement.
After the riot, Wilson threw his phone into the Atlantic in an attempt to evade a law enforcement investigation, per a plea agreement.
Rhodes and other members of the group are accused of recruiting members, stockpiling weapons, and organizing to block congressional approval of the 2020 election. Prosecutors say some oath of office guards also continued to plan to “oppose the legal transfer of presidential power by force” after the Capitol riots.
Rhodes’ lawyers on Wednesday downplayed the facts of the case against Rhodes and the significance of the plea deals.
“None of them showed evidence of an actual plan to do something,” Philip Linder said of the case against the Oath Keepers.
“Obviously they felt it was in their best interest to do so, whether they had a case or not,” Rhodes’ other attorney, James Lee Bright, told CNN. “We certainly wouldn’t encourage Stewart to do that (appeal).”
Judge releases alleged QRF leader
On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that an Arizona man accused of helping run an armed team of department guards outside Washington, D.C., be released on Jan. 6, 2021 while he awaits trial.
Judge Amit Mehta’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by an Arizona judge that Edward Vallejo, an alleged 63-year-old member, could obstruct justice and is too serious to be released.
While Mehta ruled that prosecutors did not meet the legal criteria to keep Vallejo in prison, “the seriousness of this cannot be underestimated,” adding that the charges against Vallejo strike “the heart of our democracy.”
“This is not a charge without a solid evidence basis, and anyone who suggests otherwise is not paying attention,” Mehta said. “The charge of sedition is justified, and it is based on true statements. And not just on someone’s political beliefs.”
But Mehta said Vallejo was more of a “foot soldier” in the plot than a leader and did not break the law again between riots and when he was indicted.
Vallejo will be released into strict home confinement, and will not be allowed access to the Internet, his passport, or any weapons.
Prosecutors succeeded in their initial attempt to keep Vallejo in prison after his arrest in January, claiming that Vallejo drove across the country to act as a point person for the so-called QRF at a Virginia hotel.
Prosecutors also alleged that Vallejo was eagerly awaiting instructions from Rhodes while riots erupted, and cited a podcast interview in which Vallejo spoke of the possibility of “armed conflict” and “guerrilla warfare.” After January 6, Vallejo said he was still in Washington “waiting for orders from Steward Rhodes,” according to letters highlighted by prosecutors, and told Rhodes that “[i]If you need me for anything I’m on call and I’m at your service, sir! “
The night before the original bail hearing in Arizona, Vallejo’s friend told – during a taped prison call – about video evidence prosecutors planned to use against him. In the call, which was cited by prosecutors in court documents, the friend said, “They have security camera photos of you with a doll with two black boxes with yellow lids.” Later the same day, Vallejo asked his wife in another taped call from the prison to “go through everything” in their house for “anything that would jeopardize” his release, specifically telling her to look “my bag in the black container with Yellow Summit” – a hint that prosecutors say may have been an attempt to derail their investigation.
Defense attorneys denied Vallejo was trying to obstruct the investigation, saying that it had been a year since the riots and it was possible that the boxes might not contain the same contents.
Vallejo’s attorney, Matthew Bed, also argued that Vallejo was not an official member of the Oath Keepers and was not involved in planning for January 6, citing hundreds of pages of encrypted messages from an Oath Keepers Signal conversation.
Instead of waiting for instructions at the QRF during the riots, Peed said, Vallejo was driving around DC looking for his truck because he had forgotten where he had stopped the night before.
“You have no reason to celebrate this afternoon,” Mehta said. “I know you are happy to be released, but you are in a very precarious position.”
This story has been updated with additional information.