Today Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes appeared before the partisan January 6 select committee organized by Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Rhodes agreed to appear before the committee despite currently being detained for alleged crimes related to the events of January 6, 2021.
Rhodes refused to answer almost every question offered by the committee, except for general questions that described the nature of the Oath Keepers.
The Oath Keepers founder choked back tears as he answered questions about the Oath Keepers and their history, explaining that the Oath Keepers protected minority communities in Ferguson, Missouri for two weeks during the 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, recalling the Oath Keepers protecting “minority business owners” from looting.
He added that seeing illegal actions by police and National Guard in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was “part of the reason” why Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers, “to educate military vets on how rules of war overseas apply also domestically.”
Rhodes specifically noted that the Oath Keepers regularly “call out” police officers and soldiers who use “excessive force.”
“We protest against that, I take this seriously. We have the duty to speak out against any level of government,” said Rhodes. He then used George Floyd’s death as an example, and said that convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin’s actions were an example of excessive force.
Rhodes specifically took the 5th when asked to describe his responsibilities as the leader of the Oath Keepers. However, Rhodes told the committee that there are no current dues paying Oath Keepers members because the organization lost its payment processor.
Thus, Rhodes has know way of knowing how many active Oath Keepers remain over a year after the January 6 protests.
January 6 lawyer Jon Moseley, who represents Rhodes in civil matters related to that day, told National File that this unorthodox appearance was to avoid a conflict with the partisan committee.
“There is a legal difference between not appearing at all, in disregard to the subpoena, as opposed to appearing and not being able to answer specific questions,” said Moseley.
Moseley explained that the ongoing criminal trial – Rhodes is accused of something called “seditious conspiracy” – would normally preclude his client from speaking before the committee.
“He’s going to appear to avoid the fight about supposedly disregarding the subpoena,” Moseley told National File. “But, his new criminal defense attorney, Phil Linder, will not allow him to testify with charges pending.”
As noted, Rhodes did not answer questions that could impact his ongoing criminal trial.
At one point, the committee asked Rhodes to give an example of an “unlawful order” given by 45th President Donald Trump.
Misunderstanding the question, Rhodes gave a series of examples of the previous Republican president, George W. Bush, giving orders that he considered unlawful.
When forced to take a stand against one of President Trump’s orders, Rhodes said that the 45th President’s suggestion to “take the guns first” when asked about red flag gun laws was dangerous and irresponsible.
Moseley told National File that the committee’s decision to interview Rhodes while knowing he would be unable to answer many of their questions reeked of a public relations move.
“I don’t know why they’re in a hurry to have Stewart Rhodes’ deposition when he can’t testify to anything,” said Moseley.
“It seems like they’re doing this to generate a press release.”
Rhodes was only charged after he told Moseley that he would testify for Kelly Meggs, a fellow Oath Keeper whose criminal trial is being handled by Moseley.
In fact, Moseley was on the phone with Rhodes, discussing the Oath Keepers founder’s legal issues, when the FBI raided the address.
“The committee wants President Trump’s head on a platter,” Moseley told National File. “And for some reason they think Stewart Rhodes will get them there.”
At press time, Rhodes’ appearance is still underway after three hours.
Stewart Rhodes is currently raising money for his legal defense via the Christian fundraising platform GiveSendGo.
In the fundraiser’s description, attorney Phillip Linder noted that – under Rhodes’ leadership – the Oath Keepers provided security on January 6, and regularly work with the National Guard and law enforcement:
Oath Keepers is a national organization made up primarily of first responders that volunteer their time to provide security at national events and declared disasters. They provided security during the Hurricane Harvey cleanup as well as over a dozen other declared disasters. In those situations they worked alongside the National Guard and local law enforcement agencies for each of those disasters.
In addition, they have provided security to political speakers who face real threats of violence for speaking at political events and college campuses. They were actually providing security in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021 for multiple individuals and groups scheduled to speak that day on stages around the area of the Capitol.
Rhodes is currently being held at a federal facility in Oklahoma, and attended the January 6 committee hearing via a remote video conference. He was arrested in Texas over one year after January 6, 2021.