Rhodes made the violent comments during a meeting in Texas with Jason Alpers, who identified himself on the witness stand as a military veteran and founder of the Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG). That organization played a key role in spreading false claims about Election 2020 and spreading false and inaccurate reports on voting machine software.
On the stand, Alpers said he had an indirect line to Trump’s “inner circle,” without elaborating.
That apparent connection is why Rhodes wanted to meet, Alpers testified. He said he recorded the meeting “to brief President Trump.” He said what he found eventually led him to go to the FBI.
Alpers was in the sixth week of the trial against Rhodes and four other defendants who were involved in a conspiracy against the United States government and planned to prevent the president’s legal transfer of power by force.
Kelly Sorelle, who was charged separately from Rhodes and identified in court as his girlfriend and attorney for Oath Keepers, was at the meeting, Alpers said.
As he did publicly before January 6, Rhodes repeatedly said that Trump should invoke the violence decree, which would prevent militia groups from taking President Biden into office.
Rhodes told Alpers on the tape that if Trump leaves office, “he and his family” are “dead” because Biden “will change the sedition law against us.” He compared the election to the overthrow of the Russian Tsar in 1917, after which the entire royal family was massacred.
Alpers testified that Rhodes wrote a similar message to Trump: “You have to use the power of the president to stop him by using the sedition law.” And all of us veterans support you and the vast army.
Rhodes argued that he was only defending what he believed to be a legitimate order from the president. But in the recording, Rhodes indicated that he and his followers would resort to violence even if Trump did not give his approval.
Rhodes was reported as saying: “Here’s the thing, we’re going to fight. “We will not allow them to bring our brothers. We will fight, the fight will be ours,” he said.
And if he had known on January 6 that Trump would not invoke the sedition law, Rhodes said, he would have gone further that day — including killing the Democratic leader.
“If he wasn’t going to do the right thing and allow himself to be removed illegally, we should have brought a gun,” Rhodes said in the recording. “We could still fix it there. F—- I hang Pelosi from the lampstand.
Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, is currently hospitalized after being attacked by a man who allegedly wanted to kill her.
In the recording, Rhodes called the violence “ultimately a good thing” because it “showed the people that we have a spirit of protest.”
But if Trump leaves office, he said, “anybody in the Capitol” could be at risk of being charged with “felony murder … because somebody died.” “I knew it was going to happen,” Sorrell was heard to agree.
Felony murder occurs when death is caused by another felony.
On the tape, Alpers told Rhodes he didn’t think Trump would invoke the Sedition Act. He testified that his feelings were based on conversations in Trump’s “inner circle” when the law was being discussed in “Election Fraud”.
Alpers said he didn’t deliver Rhodes’ message to Trump “because I didn’t agree with the message.” He said he was worried that being associated with these “extremist ideologies” would damage his “relationships and credibility”.
Alpers told the Washington Post last year that as far as he knew, ASOG had started the “election fraud project” after he left the company.
Josh Merritt, a former ASOG employee, said on a podcast last year that Alpers put the group in touch with Phil Waldron, who served in Afghanistan. “Alpers was a psychoanalyst. Waldron was involved with psychoanalysts,” Merritt said.
Waldron, a retired colonel, went to the White House several times to share evidence of alleged election fraud. He shared a PowerPoint presentation with Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, working on legal challenges to the live vote count and suggesting that Trump could use the military to capture the polls before Jan. 6.
Waldron did not immediately return a request for comment.
An ASOG report in Antrim County, Mich. He said he had found evidence of a massive conspiracy to manipulate the sounds of the software used in it. The report’s central claims were immediately dismissed by independent experts and homeland security officials, but it was “absolute proof” that Trump would have a second term in office, former Attorney General William P. Barr later told congressional investigators.
Alpers initially did nothing about the shooting because he “didn’t want to get involved,” but he met with federal law enforcement in the spring of 2021.
“To ask for a civil war to happen on American soil, and to be a person who goes to war, that means blood is spilled in the streets where your family is,” he said. “That’s when I took it back and really questioned whether it was in the best interest of President Trump to push this.”
Prosecutors expect to wrap up evidence against Rhodes by Wednesday, after which he and the other defendants will present their case in court.
Emma Brown contributed to this report.