Prosecutors Cite Mother Jones to Debunk Claim by Oath Keepers’ Founder

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January 6 insurrectionist Stewart Rhodes is on trial for seditious conspiracy.

Justice Department prosecutors cited Mother Jones on Tuesday in the trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes. The defense had argued that messages Rhodes sent to a woman whom he later claimed was a lawyer for his far-right group were covered by attorney-client privilege. But based partly on my reporting, prosecutors deemed that argument “a ruse.”

Rhodes and four other defendants are on trial for seditious conspiracy and other crimes related to their alleged plan to storm the Capitol on January 6 to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump. Evidence assembled by prosecutors includes texts Rhodes sent to Kellye SoRelle, a Texas attorney, in the weeks prior to the Capitol attack.

In one of those texts, dated December 29, 2020, Rhodes called past pro-Trump protests insufficient, writing: “They don’t give a shit how many show up and wave a sign, pray, or yell. They won’t fear us till we come with rifles in hand…Only reason to go is so Trump knows we support him in taking Reg gloves off and kickin ass.”

On Friday, lawyers for Rhodes and other defendants had objected to the introduction of that and other messages as evidence, saying the messages might be subject to attorney-client privilege. They were waiting for more information from prosecutors before formally asserting privilege, they said. 

Covering the aftermath of January 6, I have talked to SoRelle a lot since last year. She recently told me something relevant to the present dispute: “I didn’t have an attorney-client relationship with Stewart.”

SoRelle has an eponymous law firm in Granbury, Texas, about an hour from Fort Worth, that does family, juvenile, and immigration law, she says. She met Rhodes in the spring of 2020, she told me, when both were involved in protests against Covid restrictions. Her link to Oath Keepers deepened when SoRelle, while acting as an election observer in Michigan, claimed she witnessed potential fraud. Her claims were swiftly debunked, but Oath Keepers, designating her a whistleblower, began guarding her. Eventually Rhodes was sleeping on her couch. After his arrest this year, he claimed, while unsuccessfully seeking release on bail, that he was in “a relationship” with SoRelle. She denies that.

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