Oath Keeper members brought explosives to DC area around January 6 and had a ‘death list,’ prosecutors say

The details, many of which have never been publicly alleged before, were revealed in a government court filing, which includes a list of evidence prosecutors intend to use against the oath keepers in their trial in september.

Prosecutors will try to prove that nine oath keepers charged with seditious conspiracy – Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel, Thomas Caldwell and Edward Vallejo – largely prepared for violence and plotted to prevent Joe Biden from assuming the presidency.

All nine pleaded not guilty and denied allegations of planning or participating in violence on January 6. CNN has reached out to their attorneys for comment.

The Department of Justice also obtained at least seven cooperation agreements from members of the Oath Keepers, three of whom pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy. A number of cooperators are named in the new case and had close contact with the oath keepers before their trial.

Militia training, bombs and “death list”

Among the new details of the government’s allegations is a document with the words “DEATH LIST” which the government says it found at the home of oath-keeper Thomas Caldwell through a search warrant in the weeks following the 6 January.

The handwritten list included the name of a Georgia 2020 election official and a family member who, according to the new court filing, were both targets of “unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that they were involved in electoral fraud”.

In a comment to CNN, Caldwell said “the DOJ’s claim that I sought to assassinate election officials is a 100% false and disgusting lie.”

The government also alleges that at least three chapters of the Oath Keepers held training camps prior to January 6, 2021, focusing on military tactics.

Members in Florida held a training session on “unconventional warfare,” while the North Carolina chapter held a training session focused on setting up “hasty ambushes,” according to prosecutors. Jessica Watkins, an Ohio chapter leader, said “recruits” would have to take a “basic military-style” training course to be “fit” on inauguration day.

Prosecutors previously said the group set up a so-called Quick Reaction Force, or QRF, outside Washington, DC, stockpiled with guns and a month’s worth of food. But prosecutors now allege that at least one Oath Keeper transported explosives, including military grenades, to the QRF.

The court document also alleges that Oath Keepers set up a similar QRF outside of DC for the “Million MAGA March” in November 2020, although no weapons were ever used during the march. According to prosecutors, at least five of the oath keepers were present.

After the attack

Through its investigation of the group, the government said it seized two illegal short-barreled firearms, grenades and uncovered bomb-making recipes while executing search warrants at the homes of several oath keepers. Another member, according to the filing, attempted to have someone build several rifles before Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

According to the government, on the evening of January 6, Rhodes realized that law enforcement was seeking to arrest him, so he fled from a restaurant and “took a number of steps to avoid to be detected” – such as throwing away his phone and “sharing thousands of dollars worth of firearms and related equipment in four vehicles.”

According to prosecutors, Rhodes asked other Oath Keepers to join him in Texas following the events of January 6 and suggested that members of the group buy cell phones and start wearing disguises. He also purchased thousands of dollars worth of gun parts, according to the court filing.

On one occasion, Rhodes handed another member of the group an AR-15 rifle while they were together in a vehicle, “explaining that he had no intention of being taken away alive by the forces of order,” according to the government.

Phillip Linder, an attorney for Rhodes, said Rhodes was unaware of any plans for violence and did not participate in the violence at the Capitol.

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