As Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and his compatriots go on trial for seditious conspiracy, one of their most prominent defenses is that their far-right paramilitary group was actually acting on behalf of the government, not against it, because it was their expectation former President Donald Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act to suspend the election and call them up into service.
But on MSNBC Tuesday, Ryan Goodman, former special counsel to the Department of Defense general counsel, blew several holes in that defense, turning their private communications back on them.
"Ryan, in the trial evidence, they have these messages we referred to that really show, A, a lot of violent talk leading up to it, civil war, et cetera, and then, B, a fairly in-touch operational mode," said anchor Ari Melber. "I can't imagine before cell phones that you would usually have this level of real-time coordination. How does that strengthen prosecutors' hands, even, for example, some jury who says well, was it an out-of-control riot?"
"The encrypted messages that they have obtained are very significant," said Goodman. "And I think will also puncture a hole in this line of defense that Stewart Rhodes is trying to put on. For example, in the indictment, I felt one of the bombshell communications between the Oath Keepers is 1:30 p.m. Stewart Rhodes says, essentially, to his leadership cell, that Trump is not going to act, so it's now up to the patriots. And then they stormed the Capitol, the Oath Keepers do after that point. So it's like, you were waiting for the Insurrection Act? We have your encrypted communications saying, Trump is not acting, it's up to us. I think that kind of damning evidence is going to give the prosecutors a very strong hand."
Furthermore, noted Goodman, even if the Oath Keepers had a sincere belief Trump would declare the Insurrection Act and invite them into the Capitol, that wouldn't actually make their actions legal anyway.
"Even if they were trying to mount and succeeded in mounting this line of defense, it's actually not a defense at the end of the day," said Goodman. "I think the two together, the communications we have, real-time communications with a defense that's not actually a defense, I think the writing is on the wall. But we'll have to see how the trial plays out."
Ryan Goodman explains why Stewart Rhodes' Trump defense will fail www.youtube.com