Oath Keepers Leader Sought to Ask Trump to Unleash His Militia

“Rigged,” he wrote. And then, “I’m ready to go coyote hunting.”

On Dec. 14, 2020 — the day that a majority of electors cast their votes for Mr. Biden in the Electoral College — Mr. Wilson saw an article posted in the group chat that was written by Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s onetime national security adviser. The article warned about “unelected tyrants,” and Mr. Wilson wrote to his compatriots, “It is time to fight.”

After several phone calls with Mr. Rhodes in early January, Mr. Wilson admitted driving from North Carolina to the Washington area on Jan. 5 with an AR-15-style rifle, a 9-milimeter pistol, 200 rounds of ammunition, body armor, pepper spray and a pocketknife. As he traveled, court papers say, he posted a message in the group chat, saying, “It’s going to hit the fan tonight!”

On the day of the attack, the papers said, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Rhodes and other Oath Keepers bypassed barricades at the Capitol, unlawfully entering a restricted area. As plumes of smoke rose from the ground, the papers said, Mr. Wilson heard Mr. Rhodes declare that they were in the middle of a “civil war.”

Moments later, the papers say, Mr. Wilson entered the Capitol armed with his pocketknife — the first Oath Keeper to have breached the building. He admitted that his goal in entering the building was to gather intelligence and to disrupt the final certification of the Electoral College count.

The sedition case against the Oath Keepers — one of two separate cases brought against members of the group — was made public in January with the arrest of Mr. Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper who went on to earn a law degree at Yale. In an indictment of Mr. Rhodes and 10 of his subordinates, prosecutors fleshed out a detailed portrait of a plot to disrupt the transfer of power from Mr. Trump to Mr. Biden, starting shortly after Election Day and continuing even after the Capitol was attacked.

Just two days after voting ended, prosecutors say, Mr. Rhodes told several members of his group to refuse to accept Mr. Biden’s victory — by force, if necessary.

“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war,” he wrote on the encrypted chat app Signal. “Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit.”

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