CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia — Elliott Kline, the No. 2 in command of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, had lined up funding for a job as a full-time organizer for the Unite the Right rally, alongside Jason Kessler.
"You and I should get used to speaking daily now," Kline told Kessler in the summer of 2017, according to chats obtained by antifascist journalist Molly Conger. "Now that this is my full-time job, I'll be much more available to you."
Richard Spencer, the onetime figurehead of the alt-right movement also appears to have been in on the arrangement, telling Kline: "Also, we're going to pay you."
The three men are among 24 defendants on trial in Charlottesville alleged to have violated the 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act by conspiring to commit racially motivated violence.
The chats also show Kline deepening in his commitment to the white nationalist movement and preparing to take the reins of leadership from Identity Evropa founder Nathan Damigo — also a defendant — in the run-up to the Unite the Right rally.
"I'm about to double down in the movement harder than I already have," Kline said. "I asked her if she thought it was a good idea. She was excited. And now she wants out. It's too late for me to turn it down now. Half the reason I took the opportunity was because I knew I'd be able to support her with it. It's no secret but I'm taking over IE from Nathan and I'm going to be paid from private donors some good money."
Samantha Froelich, the woman who wanted out, testified by videotaped deposition, which was presented in federal court in Charlottesville on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
Founded in 2016 by Marine Corps veteran Nathan Damigo, Identity Evropa targeted college-age white men for recruitment.
Like Spencer and Kessler, Identity Evropa was part of the Unite the Right coalition that placed a relative degree of emphasis on optics and respectability, relative to the more working-class constituent organizations in the defunct Nationalist Front Alliance (Traditionalist Worker Party, League of the South and National Socialist Movement), along with Andrew Anglin and Robert "Azzmador" Ray of the Daily Stormer website, and neo-Nazi podcaster Christopher Cantwell. All of the organizations and their leaders are defendants in the lawsuit.
But Froelich's testimony suggests Identity Evropa's collegiate posture was little more than flimsy cover for its genocidal aims.
"Optics were paramount to Identity Evropa getting their message out," Froelich testified. "When you're interviewing someone, make sure that the room is clean. Speak with eloquence. Don't use racial slurs. Look feminine. Use natural hair colors. They wanted to look presentable."
But inside Identity Evropa, Froelich testified, leaders like her boyfriend Kline were obsessed with The Turner Diaries, a novel written by white supremacist William Pierce that envisioned a "day of the rope" when everyone but cisgender non-semitic whites would be hung from lampposts; with RaHoWar, or racial holy war; and the final solution, Adolf Hitler's program of exterminating Jews through the Holocaust during World War II.
"He would talk about it with glee," Froelich testified. "He was very excited about the prospect of killing Jewish people."
Froelich told the court that during her relationship with Kline, he called himself an "unironic exterminationist" and worked in human resources for a pest control company.
"He wished he was killing Jews instead of cockroaches," Froelich testified. "He was excited about killing Jewish people. He said he would gas the kikes forever."
Froelich said she met Richard Spencer in the summer of 2017, and "carried on a relationship" that became "physically intimate." Froelich testified that Spencer expressed negative views of Jews and African Americans in her presence, including saying that Jews "were the reason for degeneracy; they were unable to stick to themselves; they were trying to subvert white heritage." She said Spencer told her he believed "it's because of white altruism that Black people can make any contributions to society," and white people need to "take back the power and the majority." Froelich's liaison with Spencer appears to have taken place before she started dating Kline.
Froelich testified Kline told her he wanted to make Identity Evropa "a militia for Mr. Spencer."
"He said the movement itself has enough thinkers and they need more doers," Kline testified. "Eli had military experience, and he would lead on the battlefield. Then, he said, he would kill Richard and take over all of it."
While Froelich's testimony provides a full view of Identity Evropa's duplicitous politics, previous reporting has provided a glimpse into the group's efforts to deflect scrutiny.
Planning calls on the Discord gaming platform leaked to the nonprofit news outlet Unicorn Riot reveal that Kline discouraged other white nationalists from being candid about their extreme views in media interviews during planning for Unite the Right.
"The purpose of this is to gain sympathy for pro-white advocacy as well as general uniting the right wing against these communists who are gonna come shut this down, okay," Kline said, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. "Going up to, like MSNBC and them interviewing you and saying, 'Yeah, I actually think we should kill every non-white on the planet,'… like again, I don't necessarily have an issue with listening to that on a podcast or whatever, but if you are gonna do something like that, even if it's your true belief, that's not the objective of this rally, so we should try to keep it with the objective of trying to gain sympathy for a pro-white rally."
Froelich testified that she joined Identity Evropa because she was trying to connect with her boyfriend, although she didn't specify whether her boyfriend at the time was Kline.
"We were deeply in love, and something happened," Froelich testified. "We separated for a year and a half. I was rebuilding my social life and rebuilding myself. When he and I reconnected, his general tone was much darker…. I told my family I felt like I was living with a ghost…. He told me he was a fascist, and he didn't want to be with anyone who didn't support that…. I looked into what he was believing, and I dove in. I wanted his approval."
Froelich testified that she was vetted by Reinhardt Wolff, which is the alias for Patrick Casey, now the leader of Identity Evropa's successor organization American Identity Movement.
Froelich joined Identity Evropa around the time of Christmas 2016, and eventually became the women's coordinator for the group. She also said she was responsible for interviewing prospective members. She said she looked at hundreds of applications and interviewed between 100 and 200 prospects.
Froelich testified that Kline viewed Unite the Right as an opportunity to prove his leadership capabilities.
"This was his chance to prove that he should be a leader," she said. "His chance to lead white people into battle. You know, in his mind, this was the start of RaHoWa [racial holy war]. This was a battle to be fought in a modern civil war. This was a chance to lead the troops to victory."
Kline's leadership of Identity Evropa proved to be short-lived. He took control of the organization from founder Nathan Damigo shortly after Unite the Right, but December 2017 Patrick Casey announced that the was the new leader of the organization, which was rebranded as American Identity Movement.
Froelich testified that she did not attend the Unite the Right rally because she believed it would be violent and told other women in Unite the Right that she hoped the city would shut the event down.
Froelich said when Kline came back to their home in Leesburg, Va. after the rally, he spoke of himself in third person.
"Your boyfriend's a f***ing war hero," Froelich said he told her, adding that he was proud and excited that he got in a fight with someone.