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

By Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand, CNN

The Justice Department released new details Friday evening of the alleged extensive planning by the Oath Keepers to prepare for violence in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021, including lessons to conduct “hasty ambushes,” a “death list” of Georgia election officials and attempts to acquire homemade firearms.

The details, many of which have not been alleged publicly before, were revealed in a court filing from the government, which includes a list of evidence that prosecutors intend to use against the Oath Keepers during their trial in September.

Prosecutors will attempt 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 — extensively prepared for violence and plotted to stop Joe Biden from assuming the presidency.

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

The Justice Department has also secured at least seven cooperation agreements from members of the Oath Keepers, three of whom pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy. A number of the cooperators are named in the new filing and had close contacts with the Oath Keepers heading to trial.

Militia trainings, bombs and a ‘death list’

Among the new details in the government’s allegations is a document with the words “DEATH LIST” that the government says it found in Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell’s home through a search warrant in the weeks after January 6.

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

In a comment to CNN, Caldwell said “the DOJ’s claim that I sought to assassinate election workers 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, focused on military tactics.

Members from Florida held a training session on “unconventional warfare,” while the North Carolina chapter held a training session focused on setting up “hasty ambushes,” prosecutors say. Jessica Watkins, a leader of the Ohio chapter, stated “recruits” should attend “military-style basic” training class to be “fighting fit” by Inauguration Day.

Prosecutors have previously said that the group set up a so-called quick reaction force, or QRF, outside of Washington, DC, stocked with firearms and a months’ worth of food. But prosecutors now allege that at least one Oath Keeper transported explosives, including military ordinance 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, though no weapons were ever used at the march. According to prosecutors, at least five of the Oath Keepers attended.

After the attack

Through their investigation into the group, the government says it seized two illegal short barrel firearms, grenades and discovered bomb making recipes while conducting search warrants on the homes of several Oath Keepers. Another member, according to the filing, tried to have someone build multiple rifles prior to Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

According to the government, on the evening of January 6, Rhodes became suspicious that law enforcement was looking to arrest him so he fled from a restaurant and “took a number of steps to avoid detection” — like tossing his phone and “divvying up thousands of dollars’ worth of firearms and related equipment across 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 purchase burner phones and start wearing disguises. He also bought thousands of dollars’ worth of fire-arms parts, the court filing says.

On one occasion, Rhodes handed another member of the group an AR-15 rifle while they were in a vehicle together, “explaining that he did not intend to be taken by law enforcement alive,” according to the government.

Phillip Linder, a lawyer for Rhodes, said that Rhodes had no knowledge of any plans for violence and did not participate in the violence at the Capitol.

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