Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes was worrying about federal indictment minutes before the FBI showed up to arrest him, an attorney for Rhodes told TPM.
Jonathan Moseley, an attorney representing Rhodes in civil matters including the House Jan. 6 investigation, was speaking with Rhodes when FBI agents arrived to arrest him on Thursday on charges of seditious conspiracy.
Moseley told TPM that the two were discussing Rhodes’ postponed appearance before the Jan. 6 Committee. He had been scheduled to go before the panel on Thursday, but received a postponement until Feb. 2, Moseley said.
The two were also discussing why, according to Moseley, another Oath Keeper member had recently appeared before a federal grand jury in the Jan. 6 investigation.
Moseley described his client as “pessimistic,” saying that he believed it was because “they’re trying to indict me.”
Minutes later, Moseley said, FBI agents showed up at the Little Elm, Texas residence where Rhodes was staying.
“I believed at the time that if they wanted to do that, they didn’t need more information,” Moseley told TPM. “I’m not saying he’s guilty, but the way things go, they’d have a minimum of probable cause to indict him already if they had wanted to.”
Rhodes and the ten others with whom he was indicted Thursday are the first people to face charges of seditious conspiracy in connection with the insurrection.
In the indictment, federal prosecutors allege that Rhodes orchestrated a plot to block the peaceful transfer of power from Trump to Biden, a conspiracy that ended with the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. Rhodes spent tens of thousands of dollars on firearms and gun accessories, prosecutors say, both before and after the insurrection.
He’s scheduled for a court appearance on Friday in Plano, Texas at 2:30 p.m. local time for arraignment on the charges.
Moseley told TPM that Rhodes was not staying at his own residence at the time of his arrest, citing privacy reasons.
“It wasn’t so private that the FBI couldn’t find him,” Moseley deadpanned.
Rhodes was undressed when the FBI called him, saying that they were outside the door. Moseley said that Rhodes “patched” him in to the call, during which the FBI coordinated the residence’s owners’ departure from the property.
“It was a lot of negotiating, making sure that they knew he was getting dressed and was coming out so nothing got out of control,” Moseley said. “They specifically were concerned about people coming out of the house, and I understood that that meant they were going to search the house.”
Local news reports say that FBI agents spent the rest of the day searching the home, located in the Dallas suburb of Little Elm.
Moseley told TPM that Rhodes had not yet produced records to the Jan. 6 Committee, and added that he believes the FBI has obtained the records sought by the panel.
“What a difference a day makes,” Moseley said. “Because if [the deposition] hadn’t been postponed, he would have testified.”
Since then, Moseley has been trying to help find a Texas criminal defense attorney to represent Rhodes. He told TPM that he called Kellye SoRelle, the Oath Keepers’ general counsel who was subject to a federal search warrant in September that cited “seditious conspiracy.” It’s not clear if SoRelle has managed to find Rhodes an attorney.
Moseley added that Rhodes’ committee appearance had been delayed in part because the Oath Keepers leader was having trouble paying attorneys.
Some on the far-right have theorized that Rhodes had not been indicted because he was secretly a “federal operative,” as Moseley put it, adding that it was a “conspiracy theory” to believe that Rhodes was “in the same category as Ray Epps or Enrique Tarrio.”
Moseley said that at the time of his arrest, Rhodes had been trying to “clear his name” of the notion that he was associated with the federal government.
“He wanted to go on Tucker Carlson and tell his story,” Moseley said.