Stewart Rhodes, pro-Trump leader of the anti-government extremist group Oath Keepers, posted an open letter to President Donald Trump Monday urging Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act against “domestic traitors,” order “trusted military units” to “seize all databases of the CIA, FBI, NSA, DNI, etc and the records held by all state electoral systems and administrators,” and declassify evidence of treason by “corrupt and compromised elites” who he claimed had worked with the Chinese government to subvert the election.
The letter echoes comments Rhodes made at a Dec. 12 “prayer rally” on the National Mall, where he warned Trump that if he doesn’t take action, right-wing militias will have to do so in a “much more bloody war.”
This language is nothing new for Rhodes. During last year’s impeachment investigation, Rhodes warned, “We ARE on the verge of a HOT civil war. Like in 1859.” In a 2017 Fourth of July message he said that if Hillary Clinton had defeated Trump with the help of “election fraud” and “illegal alien votes,” the country would have been involved in civil war “combat.” As Right Wing Watch’s Kristen Doerer noted in October, the Oath Keepers’ violent language is part of a broader use of rhetoric about civil war from across the right-wing movement.
In his new open letter, Rhodes writes:
It’s time to honor that oath by defending the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
This is your moment of destiny. Will you take your place in history as the savior of our Republic, right up there with President Washington and Lincoln? Or will you fail to act, while you still can, and leave office on January 20, 2021, leaving We the People to fight a desperate revolution/civil war against an illegitimate usurper and his Chicom puppet regime?
Rhodes claims that the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the recent case brought by the attorney general of Texas “shows that the cancer of cowardice, compromised officials, and treason has spread even to the Supreme Court.” He urges Trump not to concede the election:
Through well-orchestrated mass vote fraud, the Communist Chinese and their domestic enemy allies are about to install their illegitimate puppet, Joe Biden, and his equally illegitimate puppet running mate, Kamala Harris, into the White House, with their treasonous fingers on the nuclear launch codes.
You must act NOW as a wartime President, pursuant to your oath to defend the Constitution, which is very similar to the oath all of us veterans swore. We are already in a fight. It’s better to wage it with you as Commander-in-Chief than to have you comply with a fraudulent election, leave office, and leave the White House in the hands of illegitimate usurpers and Chinese puppets. Please don’t do it. Do NOT concede, and do NOT wait until January 20, 2021. Strike now.
If you fail to act while you are still in office, we the people will have to fight a bloody civil war and revolution against these two illegitimate Communist China puppets, and their illegitimate regime, with all of the powers of the deep state behind them, with nominal command of all the might of our armed forces (though we fully expect many units or entire branches to refuse their orders and to fight against them) and with their foreign allies also joining in to assist in the suppression of American patriots.
Rhodes urges Trump to federalize all National Guard units, call up military veterans under the age of 65, and order “all able-bodied Americans between the ages of 17-45 who are still loyal to the Constitution to likewise report for duty, bearing their own arms” to keep the peace and “suppress the expected riots, terrorism, and armed insurrection by the radical left in the United States (who have been armed and equipped for months now by our foreign and domestic enemies).”
Rhodes concludes the letter to Trump with a repeat of the demand and threat he posed at Saturday’s rally:
WE ARE IN FOR A FIGHT, NO MATTER WHAT. LET’S GET IT DONE WITH YOU AS COMMANDER IN CHIEF
There is no way out but through. And we will NOT submit to a Chicom puppet regime. You must stand tall and use your constitutional powers to fight this war against enemies foreign and domestic while you are still President and Commander-in-Chief. If you fail to do so, we the people will have to fight a bloody revolution/civil war to throw off an illegitimate deep state/Chinese puppet regime.
Oath Keepers, launched by Rhodes in 2009 after the election of President Barack Obama, claims to be a nonpartisan group of current and former law enforcement and military service members committed to protecting Americans’ constitutional rights by refusing to abide by unconstitutional orders. In reality, Oath Keepers under Rhodes is a hard-right anti-government group. Rhodes has repeatedly called for violence and declared that the U.S. is at the point of civil war.
In an article in the November 2020 issue of The Atlantic, Mike Giglio reported that Oath Keepers “has recruited thousands of police, soldiers, and veterans.” His reporting drew in part on a database of 25,000 Oath Keepers members and supporters obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Rhodes told Giglio that it would be better to wage civil war than to “slide into a nightmare” of a dictatorship. Giglio reported that at a recruiting meeting outside Nashville, Tennessee, in July, Rhodes called anti-fascist activists and protesters “insurrectionists” and declared, “Us old vets and younger ones are going to end up having to kill these young kids,” adding, “And they’re going to die believing they were fighting Nazis.” At an event in Virginia, a former marine declared, “We should have been shooting a long time ago instead of standing off to the side.”
Politico’s Ciara O’Rourke reported earlier this month that “Oath Keepers are quietly infiltrating local government.”
In 2016, Trump gave a speaking slot at the Republican National Convention to Sheriff David Clarke, who had previously received an award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group that shares some of Oath Keepers’ ideology. Clarke had also spoken at a fundraising event for Oath Keepers’ New York chapter.
The Rhodes letter was co-signed by Kellye SoRelle, identified as a “Texas attorney and former prosecutor.” SoRelle, identified in news reports as a member of Lawyers for Trump, ran unsuccessfully for the Texas legislature this year, drawing single digits in the March 3 Republican primary. After the November election, she was “at the center of a debunked election conspiracy” when she reportedly made a video of a man rolling a wagon carrying a box into the Detroit convention center where ballots were being counted. The video was given life online by right-wing websites, including Gateway Pundit, and boosted on social media by Eric Trump and others, even though a television station affirmed that the man was a photographer bringing camera equipment to cover the counting.