'Necessary' Oath Keepers witness unable to testify due to 'medical distress' from long COVID: attorney
Stewart Rhodes (Photo by Nicholas Kamm for AFP)

On Tuesday, POLITICO's Kyle Cheney reported that the seditious conspiracy trial against the leader of the Oath Keepers, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, has encountered a new complication, as the defense counsel is claiming that a key witness, Greg McWhirter, will be unable to testify as planned.

"Rhodes' attorney, Lee Bright, says McWhirter had some kind of 'medical distress' on a plane last night," reported Cheney. "He was taken to the hospital with some issues related to long Covid. He's now unavailable to testify. 'He's a very necessary witness,' Bright says."

Bright went on to say that he will petition the court to allow a deposition of McWhirter, who served as vice president of the Oath Keepers, in the event that his illness continues to prevent him from giving testimony.

The Oath Keepers are a far-right paramilitary group consisting mainly of current and retired military and law enforcement. First rising to prominence from their role in the 2014 Bundy Ranch armed standoff with federal agents in Nevada, the Oath Keepers played a key role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, with their members forming a military "stack" formation to gain access to the Capitol. Leaders of the group believed that former President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act to let them help in preventing the transfer of power to President Joe Biden, or else that they could persuade Trump to do so.

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At his trial so far, Rhodes has attempted to throw fellow members of his organization under the bus, saying those who entered the Capitol didn't do so on his orders. "I didn’t want them getting wrapped up in to all the nonsense with Trump supporters," said Rhodes in court. "My goal was to make sure that no one got wrapped up in that Charlie Foxtrot going on inside the Capitol."

During the trial, Rhodes also expressed an affinity for QAnon, the conspiracy theory that America is controlled by Satanic child traffickers who consume human flesh and blood — and said that he wanted Trump to declassify secret government files that would supposedly prove QAnon real.

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