- A jury was told that Trump’s tweets encouraged the far-right Oath Keepers to storm the Capitol.
- After Trump lost the 2020 election, he tweeted that there would be a “big protest” that would be “wild.”
- One Oath Keeper later said, “He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!!”
Donald Trump’s tweets about protests in Washington DC to oppose the January 6 certification of President Joe Biden appeared to pump up the far-right Oath Keepers, a jury has heard.
The militia group’s founder, Stewart Rhodes, and four associates are being tried for seditious conspiracy. Seditious conspiracy is a Civil War-era law against attempting to overthrow the government. In the case of the Capitol riot, it refers to an attempt to block the transfer of presidential power.
After Trump lost the 2020 election, the court heard testimony from an FBI agent about a string of tweets from the former president, shown to the jury. On December 19, Trump rallied his supporters to a “big protest” on January 6 and said, “Be there, will be wild!” reported AP.
Kelly Meggs, an Oath Keepers leader from Dunnellon, Florida, wrote to other group members, “He wants us to make it WILD. He called us all to the Capitol and wants us to make it wild!!! Sir Yes Sir!!!” AP reported.
The indictment against the Oath Keepers details how the group planned to bring weapons to Washington DC on January 6, after hosting “unconventional warfare” training.
Meggs also wrote on December 25: “We need to make those senators very uncomfortable with all of us being a few hundred feet away.” adding, “I think Congress will screw him [President Trump] over. The only chance we/he has is if we scare the shit out of them and convince them it will be torches and pitchforks time if they don’t do the right thing. But I don’t think they will listen.”
Defense lawyers for Rhodes plan to argue that the Oath Keepers founder is not guilty because he believed Trump was poised to invoke the Insurrection Act. The far-right militia he led would be called upon to defend the nation’s capital.
He was in Washington DC on the day of the riot but did not enter the Capitol but was “like a general looking over the battlefield, surveying and communicating while his troops stormed inside,” prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler said in his opening statement to the court earlier this month.
This case is not the first time this specific Trump tweet has been described as encouraging the Capitol rioters. In a July hearing of the January 6 panel, Representative Stephanie Murphy described Trump’s “be wild” post served as “a call to action and in some cases as a call to arms.”
Representative Jamie Raskin said the former President’s tweets “electrified and galvanized” rioters and extremists.