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Top Oath Keepers member says he overheard extremist group’s leader trying to connect with Trump after US Capitol riot

William Todd Wilson, a leader of the North Carolina chapter of the Oath Keepers, said Rhodes made a call on speakerphone to an unidentified person, according to court filings.

“Wilson heard Rhodes repeatedly implore the individual to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose the transfer of power. This individual denied Rhodes’s request to speak directly with President Trump,” Wilson said as part of his plea.

The phone call happened when Rhodes and others were in a private suite at a Washington, DC, hotel on January 6 after the attack, according to Wilson’s court proceeding. The person declined and would not connect Rhodes with Trump.

“After the call ended, Rhodes stated to the group, ‘I just want to fight,'” the filing said.

Rhodes has pleaded not guilty, and two lawyers for Rhodes said on Wednesday said they were not aware of any time Rhodes had direct contact with Trump, and had not heard about the call before.

Wilson pleaded guilty on Wednesday to seditious conspiracy, the third person to admit to trying to overthrow the Biden presidency, as well as obstruction. He will cooperate with prosecutors in their escalating investigation into the events of January 6.

Wilson, a 44-year-old military veteran, was not previously charged before the Justice Department announced his plea deal, making his hearing before a judge in DC District Court a surprise.

Nine seditious conspiracy defendants connected to the Oath Keepers are still currently headed to trial.

At his plea hearing, Wilson said he had heard Rhodes discuss using even lethal violence to stop the congressional certification of the presidential vote.

Wilson also said he contributed firearms to the so-called “quick reaction force” planned by the group that was set up in an Arlington, Virginia, hotel. Prosecutors allege that effort was so that members of the Oath Keepers could rush to the Capitol if called on by Rhodes.

Separately, Wilson attended a crucial online meeting for the Oath Keepers in November 2020, where Rhodes allegedly outlined plans to block the Biden presidency and urged others to take part, according to court records.

According to court documents, Wilson stored an AR-15, a 9-millimeter pistol, and approximately 200 rounds of ammunition in his hotel room, which Rhodes paid for.

Wilson, armed with a pocket knife, entered the Capitol grounds on January 6, according to his plea agreement. As he moved toward the building, Wilson heard Rhodes say that 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 to gather “intelligence,” according to the plea agreement.

After the riot, Wilson threw his phone into the Atlantic Ocean in an attempt to evade law enforcement investigation, according to his plea agreement.

Rhodes and other members of the group are accused of allegedly recruiting members, stocking up on weapons and organizing to disrupt Congress’ certification of the 2020 election. Prosecutors say some of the Oath Keepers also continued to plot “to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power” after the Capitol riot.

Lawyers for Rhodes on Wednesday downplayed the facts of the case against Rhodes and the significance of Oath Keeper plea deals.

“None of them still show evidence of an actual plan to do something,” Phillip Linder said about the case against the Oath Keepers.

“Clearly they felt it was in their best interest to do that, whether they had a case or not,” Rhodes’ other attorney, James Lee Bright, told CNN. “We’re certainly never going to encourage Stewart to do so (plead).”

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