WASHINGTON – On Jan. 4, Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, an anti-government group, went online to summon his army of followers into action.
In an urgent plea on the Oath Keepers website, Rhodes wrote that it is “CRITICAL” that “all patriots” travel to Washington on a “security mission” in support of then-President Donald Trump’s “fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic.”
“We Oath Keepers are both honor-bound and eager to be there in strength to do our part,” Rhodes implored.
This was not the first time Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper and Yale-educated lawyer, had rallied his troops around the former president. At Rhodes’ direction, members of the Oath Keepers, the militia he founded in 2009, had attended numerous Trump events over the years.
But coming after months of increasing vitriol by Rhodes and others about an imaginary leftist plot against Trump that had to be stopped at all costs, the consequences of his call to action proved deadly.
Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died and more than 100 others were injured when an estimated 800 Trump supporters, including members of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and other right-wing groups, stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to overturn Trump’s loss to Democrat Joe Biden in the November 2020 presidential election.
Months in advance
In the two months since the bloody assault, a growing body of evidence has emerged that members of the Oath Keepers and…