"This was a setup": Oath Keepers founder alleges defense in Capitol Riot never saw surveillance video

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The founder of Oath Keepers is alleging that members of his defense team were never shown surveillance video which he said shows he was telling the truth when questioned by the FBI regarding the Capitol Hill January 6th incident. The founder, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, III, was found guilty of seditious conspiracy among other related charges, and has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Rhodes provided an interview with the Epoch Times in June while in prison regarding the news outlet obtaining video surveillance from January 6th. He said that the footage verifies he was telling the members of his organization to back away from the Capitol, not attack it as he was accused of doing. The nine-minute video, which mostly focuses on Rhodes, shows him as he is attempting to use his cell phone but is having issues with reception.

Rhodes and his defense team claim that this video verifies that he told the truth when he was interviewed by the FBI after the incident. Rhodes claimed he never ordered Oath Keepers members to infiltrate the Capitol; rather, he spent several minutes trying to call them and tell them to back off.

Rhodes claimed during his interview with the FBI, “I was trying to call them, to get them to come to us, to get them to come to me and Whip [Michael “Whip” Greene]. That’s all it was. I couldn’t get any [expletive] comms.”

The video, obtained by the Epoch Times, shows an exterior terrace-level camera that seemingly was watching Rhodes moves at the Capitol between 2:51 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Rhodes suggested he was being surveilled by undercover police officers after having attended the million MAGA march in December of 2020.

“He [the undercover officer] testified at our trial," Rhodes told the Epoch Times. "They were trying to insinuate that we were casing the Capitol when we were there in November or December. It was just ridiculous. So their intelligence people were apparently aware of who I am because we were there prior.”

A member of Rhodes’ defense team, Edward Tarpley, also spoke to the Epoch Times regarding the newly released video from the outlet. Tarpley alleges that no members of his team, to his knowledge, viewed the video Rhodes claims exonerates him.

“I don’t remember seeing this video," Tarpley said. "It may have been in discovery, but I certainly didn’t see it. We were given thousands of videos to review. It seems pretty clear to me that someone actually was following Stewart [Rhodes] on the ground with the video camera.”

Tarpley, like Rhodes, believes this video proves that he was telling the truth during the interview with the FBI and that he was actually trying to stop the riot from occurring rather than encouraging it.

“It certainly backs up Stewart’s contention that he was trying to gather all the Oath Keepers who weren’t on mission to come to him at the Capitol for the purpose of keeping them out of harm’s way," Tarpley continued. "The government argued that Stewart’s messages to everyone to come to the Capitol was his call to action for them to come and attack…Of course, we know that it is totally false.”

Rhodes was arrested in Texas on January 13, 2022, and stood trial for seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and tampering with documents or proceedings. He was found guilty of those charges and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland released a statement through the Department of Justice following the sentence, and in part, it read, “The United States proved at trial that the Oath Keepers plotted for months to violently disrupt the peaceful transition of power from one administration to the next. The Justice Department will continue to do everything in our power to hold accountable those criminally responsible for the January 6th attack on our democracy.” 
 
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