Two days after the 2020 presidential election, the Oath Keepers were already convinced that victory had been stolen from President Trump and members of the far-right militia group were making plans to march on the U.S. Capitol. The indictment last week of Stewart Rhodes, the group's leader, and 10 other members or associates was stunning in part because federal prosecutors, after a year of investigating the insurrection,, charged them with seditious conspiracy, a rarely-used Civil War-era statute reserved for only the most serious of political criminals, the Associated Press reports. On Nov. 9, 2020, Rhodes instructed his followers during a GoToMeeting call to go to Washington to let Trump know “that the people are behind him,” and he expressed hope that Trump would call up the militia to help stay in power, authorities say. “It will be a bloody and desperate fight,” Rhodes warned. “We are going to have a fight. That can’t be avoided.”
The Oath Keepers worked as if they were going to war, discussing weapons and training. Days before the attack on the Capitol, one defendant suggested in a text message getting a boat to ferry weapons across the Potomac River to their “waiting arms,” prosecutors say. On Dec. 14, 2020, as electors in states cast their votes, Rhodes published a letter on the Oath Keepers’ website “advocating for the use of force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.” As the transition in Washington drew close, Oath Keepers spoke of an arsenal they would keep just a few minutes away and grab if needed. Rhodes is accused of spending $15,500 on firearms and related equipment including a shotgun, AR-15, mounts, triggers, scopes and magazines, prosecutors said.