Takeaways from the dramatic first day and opening statements of the Oath Keepers trial

Five alleged members of the far-right militia, including its leader Stewart Rhodes, are on trial in Washington DC’s federal courthouse.
The Justice Department’s opening statement featured messages and other communications among the defendants that prosecutors say show the Oath Keepers’ unlawful plotting to disrupt Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral win.
“They said out loud and in writing what they planned to do,” Jeffrey Nestler, an assistant US Attorney, told the jury.
Nestler’s presentation included iPhone footage from the attack that the prosecutor used to identify the defendants and other alleged co-conspirators.
The DOJ also showed video and photographs of the Oath Keepers participating in tactical training sessions.
Prosecutors preemptively punch holes in Oath Keepers’ defenseNestler used the opening arguments to also preview how the Justice Department will respond to defenses the Oath Keepers’ attorneys are expected to put forward.
In December 2020, Rhodes told others that January 6 presented a “hard constitutional deadline,” according to prosecutors, and that they would need to “do it ourselves” if Trump didn’t stop the certification of the election.
Mehta told Linder to keep his opening within the parameters of the relevant subject matter that has been established before the trial.
Linder went on to preview other aspects of the Oath Keepers’ defense.
At least one cooperating Oath Keeper, William Todd Wilson, is also scheduled to testify during the trial, Linder said Monday.
He ticked off other events, including protests taking place in other states across the country, where the Oath Keepers organized QRFs.
Palian is one of the lead case agents who investigated the Oath Keepers during the course of the almost two-year investigation.
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