Oathkeepers panicked that left “beheads” them after failed Capitol coup

In the weeks following the January 6 riot on Capitol Hill, leader of the far-right group Oath Keepers urged members to borrow money to stock up on fuel, before what the group claimed was a the Biden administration against the electricity grid. Meanwhile, the group was making almost daily withdrawals from a crowdfunding site, totaling nearly $ 30,000.

A leak of messages from Oath Keepers, uploaded by the transparency group Distributed Denial of Secrets this week, reveals some of the group’s communications after members were involved in the attack on the Capitol. Paranoid emails from the group’s founder, Stuart Rhodes, are at the forefront of the leak. breakdown. These conspiracy fears were often accompanied by calls to spend money.

A week after the Capitol attack, while Donald Trump was still in office, Rhodes sent an email pleading with the then president to invoke the insurgency law in order to cling to power, according to reports. email leaks. (Although the message is addressed to Trump, it is not clear whether Rhodes sent it to him or simply included his text in an email to Oath Keepers.) Part of Rhodes’ justification, barely seven days after the Capitol riot, was the alleged threat from the left, which he said would start attacking pro-Trump families.

“Domestic enemy wolves will also be at the doorstep of all your followers,” Rhodes wrote. “Freedom-loving American constitutionalists will have no choice but to honor their oaths and stand up for both the Constitution and their families when communists and obedient Deep State servants come looking for them (as they have). already plan to do so). “

Like others on the far right, Rhodes seemed to believe in conspiracy theories that Trump was secretly keeping damaging secrets that would destroy the left. Rhodes encouraged Trump to divulge these so-called secrets on fringe sites like 8chan.

“At the very least, perform the mass declassification and data dump,” Rhodes wrote. “You still have absolute authority as president and commander-in-chief to declassify all files held by the CIA, FBI, NSA, etc. Use trusted elite units that you know are still constitutionally loyal to do this (to grab servers and dump data on 4Chan, 8Chan, etc.).

Rhodes included the text of this letter in an email to Oath Keepers titled “OATH KEEPERS WARNING ORDER PART I”. In it, Rhodes warned supporters of the “very strong possibility” that the Biden administration is supposed to shut down the power grid and start carrying out targeted strikes against the Tories.

“In the short term, we are faced with a very big possibility [sic] of an intentional “communications down” scenario where the black hats cut / shut down all communications in the US – No cell service, no internet, no land lines. Communication failure. It could also include a power outage. An intentional power failure. The worst case would be an EMP [electromagnetic pulse] strike, “Rhodes told Oath Keepers on Jan. 13. The long knife beheading strike to arrest or eliminate Patriotic leaders, potential leaders and highly trained personnel. (The reference to the” night of the long knives “was the second time Rhodes compared the Biden administration to the Nazis in this email.)

“Money questions are linked to email leaks. “

Rhodes encouraged his supporters to plan evacuations of militia-led homes during the attack on the fantasy power grid and to stock up on fuel and even go into debt if necessary. “Get all the fuel you can – gasoline, diesel, NOW,” he wrote. “Collect fuel from underground storage tanks and portable containers. Get whatever you can. You will need it. Borrow money or top it up if you need to.

Rhodes did not respond to requests for comment on whether he believed such attacks were still imminent.

These leaked email comments show a continued increase in Oath Keepers’ rhetoric, even after the Capitol Riot.

Rhodes claims to have been neither involved in nor aware of the efforts of the Oath Keepers to violate the Capitol. In speeches at DC rallies before January 6, however, he preached a similar brand of anti-left apocalyptic, which extremist watchers described as a warning sign ahead of the attack on Capitol Hill. . In one of those speeches in December, he called on Trump to invoke the insurgency law and warned that “if he doesn’t do it now while he is Commander-in-Chief, we will have to do it ourselves. – even later, in a more desperate, much more bloody war.

Rhodes also appeared to support efforts by the courts to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory. In an email on January 28, Oath Keepers attorney Kellye Sorelle emailed the group stating that “Stewart has agreed to allow me to email all sections asking for help. ‘aid”.

Sorelle asked group members to help her find documentation “for all 50 states regarding their ordinances / policy changes modifying their postal voting process, the use of drop boxes, voters and certification information for machines used for elections. I also need proof from counties / states that the data / ballots are not kept for 22 months as required by law.

Sorelle did not respond to requests for comment on the nature of her request and the mobilization of the Oath Keepers to help her. At the time of her request, Sorelle was involved in a baffling legal case that cited a law from fiction. the Lord of the Rings the universe in an attempt to undo Biden’s victory. (The case was closed in September.)

Some of Rhodes’s emails during this time included requests for donations to the Oath Keepers. Although a public Oath Keepers fundraiser on the GiveSendGo site was unsuccessful in the spring of 2021, the group was actively removing tens of thousands from an account on the crowdfunding site RallyPay, according to leaks.

From January 18 to February 16, Edward Durfee, the New Jersey Oathkeeper, made withdrawals from the account almost daily, totaling over $ 28,000. Durfee, who is running for a job in New Jersey, did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday (he also did not respond previously, when asked about allegations that Oath Keepers defrauded the application fee).

The purpose of Oath Keepers’ RallyPay account is unclear. Leaked chat logs reveal that the group “promoted” one of those accounts in support of alleged Capitol Hill rioter Jessica Watkins. The Oath Keepers have also been hosting their own RallyPay fundraisers since at least in October 2020.

Money questions are linked to email leaks. In February, Rhodes emailed Oath Keepers asking for their help responding to a tornado in Alabama. While the email called for volunteers, it also asked for donations. Two days later, Rhodes sent an email again, informing his subscribers that local first responders had refused the group’s services.

“The local PD let us know that they have enough manpower to cover their needs and that the need for security is not as severe as expected. Therefore, we are withdrawing from this operation, ”Rhodes wrote. Nonetheless, he noted, the Oath Keepers would like to keep the donations they received for the Alabama mission.

“To those who have made a donation to support this mission: we greatly appreciate your support,” he wrote. “Donors like you make what we do possible and we couldn’t do it without you. We hope you will just let us use your donation to fund our future operations (we will probably be back in the field very soon) and our day-to-day expenses. However, if you’ve donated to this effort and want a refund, email us and we’ll do it. “

Refunds were a problem for the Oath Keepers in early 2021, as The Daily Beast previously reported. Several future Oath Keepers emailed the group, complaining that they sent an application fee but never heard of the membership.

One application came from a former leader of the Proud Boys, another far-right paramilitary group. Leaked chat logs reveal that Jason Lee Van Dyke, who briefly served as the head of the Proud Boys, attempted to join the Oath Keepers in March. Van Dyke has previously been accused of using a chapter of Proud Boy to monitor an enemy, a charge Van Dyke denies.

Van Dyke told The Daily Beast that Oath Keepers had not asked him about his affiliation with the Proud Boys. He said he briefly joined the group’s chat, but not many people had spoken to him, even to integrate him as a member. Chat logs show he offers to pay a $ 50 membership fee, but is told that the group’s payment processors are currently down.

“I seem to remember a time when maybe I was in their conversation, but I was there a bit and as far as I know that group is completely gone,” Van Dyke told The Daily Beast. “I don’t remember my password to enter it. They no longer have memberships to enter. If I remember correctly, this conversation was dead like a nail in the door.

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