Stewart Rhodes, the eye-patch-wearing law graduate accused of sedition for the Capitol Hill attack, has spent years preparing to fight a government he sees as increasingly repressive and willing to wage “a civil war.”
Rhodes, 56, is considered the leader of the far-right group Oath Keepers, which led the attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, stockpiling weapons for an armed insurrection.
In the indictment, the Justice Department details encrypted conversations in which Rhodes urges members of the Oath Keepers to prepare for a revolution after Trump was defeated by Democrat Joe Biden in the November 2020 election.
“We will not get through this without a civil war,” he wrote. Even if Biden becomes president, “it’s going to be a bloody and desperate fight… It can’t be avoided.”
Rhodes, accused of sedition along with 10 other members of the Oath Keepers, has foreseen this fate since he founded the group in 2009, under the guise that the federal government was increasingly encroaching on citizens’ rights.
– From Yale to Conspiracy –
Elmer Stewart Rhodes was born in 1966 and little is known about his upbringing except that he grew up in the American Southwest.
He enlisted in the army after high school, but was discharged early due to an injury sustained during a skydiving exercise.
His ex-wife Tasha Adams Rhodes, with whom he had six children, says they met when he worked as a valet and she was teaching dance in Las Vegas.
He also worked as a firearms instructor and lost an eye when he was hit by a gun that fell from his hands. In 1998, he graduated from a local university and was accepted into Yale Law School, one of the most prestigious in the country.
Rhodes then set up a law firm in Montana, where he developed the idea of the Oath Keepers, one of the right-wing “patriotic” groups that have sprung up in the last two decades.
His motto: be prepared to fight a government that becomes very repressive and imposes restrictions on the carrying of weapons.
The Anti-Defamation League claims that Rhodes’ list of principles, which predicts the government will become deeply authoritarian, “reveals his extreme conspiracy mentality.”
– A talent –
Rhodes wrote a blog about politics and the alleged threat from the American left, which piqued the interest of many white men with military and police experience and attracted thousands of supporters.
“He turned out to have a talent for making fringe ideas more attractive,” Mike Griglio wrote of Rhodes in The Atlantic.
Rhodes’ wife has stated that he is a narcissistic sociopath. “He sees himself as a very revered great figure in history. His followers call him the next George Washington.”
As the group grew, Rhodes attended Republican rallies and mobilized members of the Oath Keepers, armed and in combat gear, to “keep the peace” during demonstrations and during social unrest, such as those in Ferguson in 2014 after police shot a black man.
Although often anti-government, Rhodes and the Oath Keepers supported Trump when the Republican ran for president. The group’s leader frequently appeared on the InfoWars show of Alex Jones, an American far-right personality, and was a special guest at a Trump rally in 2019.
– Store weapons –
According to the Justice Department, the group echoed Trump’s claim that Biden’s November 2020 election victory was illegitimate.
Rhodes urged Trump to declare a national emergency and martial law and began planning for the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill.
They trained for “unconventional warfare”.
If Biden becomes president, “we’re going to have to make a massive and bloody revolution,” Rhodes told followers two weeks before the riots broke out.
The indictment documented that Rhodes spent tens of thousands of dollars on weapons, ammunition and other equipment before the attack.
The group stored the “rapid reaction force” weapons in hotels on the outskirts of the city to mobilize them when they received the order.
He didn’t even hide the plan. “We already have men stationed outside of DC (Washington) as a nuclear option. If they try to unseat the president illegally, we will stop it,” he told InfoWars.
“We’ll be inside DC, we’ll also be outside DC, armed, ready to go in if the president calls us.”
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