Alpers testified under oath that he came to the meeting with Rhodes with a recording device hidden on his person. The meeting was launched with the help of Alpers’ friend, Chad Rogers, a co-founder with Alpers of the Allied Special Operations Group. Notably, that group conducted a so-called “audit” of the election results from Antrim County, Michigan, in 2020. That report was then used to try to convince Trump to have the National Guard seize voting machines.
Meeting at night in the parking lot of a closed Fry’s Electronics store in Texas, there were just a few people there besides Rhodes and Alpers, Alpers testified. That included a deeply drunk Kellye SoRelle, he added. He couldn’t recall the others. It was also his first-ever meeting with Rhodes.
“The intent behind the meeting was to provide the information to President Trump,” Alpers, a military veteran who was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Qatar, testified Wednesday.
Once cell phones were stowed in a nearby vehicle—the recording device was not found—Rhodes prodded Alpers: What did he know about Trump preparing to invoke the Insurrection Act?
“I mean we heard he dropped the Insurrection Act and now we’re hearing he didn’t drop it,” Rhodes is heard saying in the recorded session.
This, Alpers explained, was a question from Rhodes about whether Trump planned to invoke the Insurrection Act so that groups like (and including) the Oath Keepers could be called to his side.
Rhodes had already written two public letters urging Trump to invoke the act. Rhodes claimed the election was stolen and urged Trump to raise up Oath Keepers so the transfer of power could be stopped. Those letters were published on the Oath Keepers’ website on Dec. 14, 2020, and Dec. 23, 2020.
When Alpers told Rhodes on Jan. 10, however, that Trump was not prepared to invoke the act, Alpers offered Rhodes a small comfort.
Even if it seemed like Trump wouldn’t invoke it, that didn’t mean their conversation wouldn’t be taken “to the right places” or “specifically to the head guy.”
Rhodes then asked him to take a message to the outgoing president.
Alpers asked Rhodes to write it into a phone so the message would be clear and captured accurately, he testified.
That message was admitted into evidence Wednesday and is shown below in its entirety:
“This is Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, Army airborne veteran and Yale Law graduate. President Trump, you can save the Republic by doing your duty as Commander in Chief.
Biden is an illegitimate Chicom puppet. He is about to get his hands on the nuclear codes and command all of our armed forces.
You must use the Insurrection Act and use the power of the presidency to stop him. And all us veterans will support you and so will the vast majority of the military.
If you don’t then Biden/Kamala will turn all that power on you, your family and all of us.
You and your family will be imprisoned and killed. Just like the Romanovs in Russia. The czar and his family were promised safety if he stepped down. He did, and they were all murdered.
You and your children will die in prison.
And us veterans will die in combat on U.S. soil fighting against traitors who YOU turned over all the powers of the presidency to.
You must do as Lincoln did. He arrested congressman, state legistlators and issued a warrant for SCOTUS Chief Justice Taney.
Take command like Washington would.
Be a Churchill, not a Chamberlain (the British Prime Minister who wanted to appease Hitler).
Go down in history as the savior of the Republic not a man who surrendered it to deadly traitors and enemies who then enslaved and murdered millions of Americans.
We wrote you two long open letters on the Oath Keepers site. Please read them for a solid game plan to save our Republic.
Here they are:
I am here for you and so are all my men. We will come help you if you need us. Military and police. And so will your millions of supporters.
Alpers ultimately did not take the message to Trump and he told prosecutors on Wednesday it was because he didn’t agree with Rhodes. The Oath Keeper leader’s views were too “extremist” and “one-sided,” he said.
Sending the message would have “wrapped me into agreeing with that ideology in some way.”
After typing the message out, a clearly tense Rhodes reiterated his priorities.
“If he doesn’t act now to use his presidential power and save our country then its going to fall to the communists and they are going to do to him and his family what happened to the czar and his family … it might be prison. [They] could be raped and shanked in prison but they’ll still wind up dead. That’s the reality. And not just them. It’s all of us, too.”
It was at this point that Alpers said he “kinda stepped back” and questioned whether pushing this message to Trump was the the best idea.
“Everything is built on relationships and credibility and providing this information forward, with it being very one-sided, could have very unintended negative consequences for trust and relationships at work,” Alpers said.
Alpers also had experience with wars, he testified. He knew the cost.
“Asking for a civil war to be on American ground and understanding, as a person who has gone to war, that means blood is going to get shed on the streets where your family is. That’s not a distant land. It’s right here,” he said.
During the Jan. 10 meeting, Rhodes told Alpers there would be “combat here on U.S. soil no matter what.”
“No matter what you think they’ll do, it’s coming,” Rhodes said.
He believed the Biden administration would “disarm” everyone and then, once that was done, “come after everyone that was at the Capitol.”
“They are going to come after every patriot,” he said.
When Alpers told Rhodes at the meeting that he didn’t condone what happened at the Capitol, Rhodes said it “turned out to be a good thing.”
“Maybe it also showed the people that we got a spirit of resistance so I’m letting you know my only regret is they should have brought rifles. I tell you what, if Trump’s not going to do the right thing … if he’s just going to let himself be removed illegally, then we should have brought rifles. We could have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang fucking Nancy Pelosi from the lamppost,” Rhodes said.
During cross examination by David Fischer, an attorney for defendant Thomas Caldwell, Fischer asked whether Alpers was working for any law enforcement agency when he decided to record the Jan. 10 meeting. Alpers testified that he was not.
The Justice Department is on the cusp of resting its case against Rhodes, Meggs, Caldwell, Harrelson, and Watkins.
After this bombshell dropped on Wednesday, prosecutors provided extensive evidence using phone and Facebook metadata to show jurors what Rhodes and his co-defendants were up to after Jan. 6.
Rhodes stopped using his cell phone after Jan. 6 as he traveled back to Texas with Kellye SoRelle, prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy demonstrated and there were a number of times fellow Oath Keepers reached out to each other with concern about whether Rhodes had been “picked up” or arrested.
But text messages extracted from SoRelle’s phone showed Rhodes developed a work-around.
In a message to members of the Oath Keepers Old Leadership Chat on Signal, SoRelle told the group that she had an important message from their leader.
“My cell is down. will be back up soon. Can’t be avoided for now. stand firm. don't go off half-cocked. there's still a chance Trump will act as commander-in-chief. I’m working with others to make that a reality. it does zero good for anyone to initiate force at this,” Rhodes wrote on Jan. 8.
The meeting with Alpers would follow 48 hours later.
But before then, Rhodes kept warning members not to talk about what they did at the Capitol.
”Clam up. Do not say a damn thing… we are still in the twilight before open conflict. In this environment ‘law fare’ by the black hats is a very real threat. They WILL be coming after anyone they can identify as being in the building,” he wrote. [Emphasis original] ”Do not make it easier for them. Make them do their own work. Let me finish this point: Do not chat about Oath Keepers allegedly doing anything at the Capitol. Go dark on that. Do not discuss.”
And if any further clarity was needed, Rhodes offered the advice in “infantry speak.”
”SHUT THE FUCK UP. Do not discuss who did what. Go silent. Comms discipline,” he wrote. [Emphasis original]
Rhodes proceeded to tell Oath Keepers, prosecutors showed, to scroll back as far as possible in their respective Signal chats and delete any and all messages where a “comment can be used against you.”
Rhodes ended up staying at the north Texas home of an Oath Keeper associate, Steve Vanderbol. Pictures obtained during the FBI’s cell phone extractions show Rhodes with Alabama Oath Keeper division leader Joshua James at Vanderbol’s home. In another picture, Rhodes is seen in a bedroom surrounded by what Agent Moore identified as gun cases. Guns displayed in the pictures were later collected from a storage unit owned by James.
Though it was widely expected that the prosecution would rest its case on Wednesday, they didn’t quite get there. On Thursday, however, once cross of Agent Moore is completed, they are poised to deliver closing arguments.
Once the DOJ closes, it will go to the defense to make their case. Defense attorneys are expected to make several motions, known as Rule 29 motions, seeking acquittal and the floor will be handed over to attorneys for Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson to make their opening statements. Those attorneys, Stanley Woodward and Brad Geyer reserved their opening statements when the trial first began over a month ago.
Jurors are likely to hear from Rhodes himself when he goes on the stand. His Covid-19 diagnosis delayed proceedings momentarily last week but it also cut into his prep time with his attorneys.
For up-to-the-minute updates, check out the live blog here at Daily Kos or follow this reporter on Twitter.
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