Oath Keeper Graydon Young said the January 6 attack was like a “Bastille-type” moment.
“I think I acted like a traitor, someone acting against my government,” he said in the trial of Rhodes and four others in federal court in Washington.
The testimony Monday of Young, 57, of the Tampa area, is critical for the prosecution. He is one of three expected witnesses who have pleaded guilty to at least one of the three overlapping conspiracies in which Rhodes and others are charged. The Oath Keepers co-defendants are accused of being in military-style gear in a “stack” formation outside the Capitol and staging firearms just outside Washington.
Prosecutors must show that even if Rhodes did not enter the building that day, he and his co-defendants conspired to oppose by force the legal transition of presidential power, to obstruct Congress from is meeting to certify the results of the 2020 elections, or to prevent lawmakers.
Young said he believed there was an implicit understanding among the Oath Keepers who participated in the encrypted communications with Rhodes that he had called for violently opposing President Biden to take office, although Young said that there was no specific order to enter the Capitol on January 6 or January. express agreement to commit a crime.
“There was no specific plan that you were aware of to break down the Capitol doors, is that right?” Rhodes’ attorney James Lee Bright asked during cross-examination.
“Yes,” Young replied.
But Young told prosecutor Jeffrey S. Nestler, “I participated in a conspiracy to obstruct Congress. … We are going to disrupt Congress, where they met.”
“I feel like it’s common sense,” he said. “We talked about doing something fraudulent in the election when we got here on the 6th, and when the crowd went over the barricades in the building, the opportunity presented itself to do something.”
Young, a retired civilian software project manager and Navy Reserve information systems technician, told jurors how after the 2020 election he became bored with the rental property of his wife and childcare companies and spent “two to six” hours a day after President Donald. Trump’s False Claims of Massive Voter Fraud.
Young said he believed further protests would be “ineffective,” knew the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress was “the last step” before Biden’s inauguration two weeks later, and joined the Oath Keepers because “I felt that something needed to change or be. done.”
“I was really emotionally invested in what was going on. It started to cloud my judgment and changed my priorities” away from his family, Young said.
Young signed up to be a bodyguard for Trump political confidante Roger Stone in Florida, where he met a paramilitary trainer. Young, who owns 10 firearms, including two military-style AR-15 rifles, said he explored firearms training using mock rounds for his security team, and informed Rhodes and the his co-accused Florida Oath Keepers the leader of January 6 Kelly Meggs, who directed the actions of Oath Keepers in Washington that day, Young testified.
On the stand, Young said he remembered Trump’s lawyer Sidney Powell saying that the voting machines had been tampered with and the US government. he was an accomplice; he believed it was time to crack down on a corrupt government “forcing us to accept an invalid election and anything else”.
Young testified that Meggs told other Florida members in encrypted chats in December 2020 that Oath Keepers were ready to be the potential leaders of “millions” once the resistance began. When Young worried that the opposing federal authority was a “fool’s commission,” and he and others doubted they could stop the election certification, Rhodes unexpectedly joined the chat to “motivate them”—”like the CEO who appears in your chat.”
“It’s not a stupid commission,” Rhodes said in a Christmas Day thread, just after another participant declared, “We’re going to be in charge of 1776.2.”
The Congress needed fear and to convince “it will be the time of torches and pitchforks i[f] they’re not doing what’s right,” Rhodes said, adding that if Trump didn’t act by calling out the military and private militia to stay in power, the Oath Keepers.
Young said he took this as an implicit understanding that Oath Keeper patriots were opposing an “enemy” made up of Congress, Biden and the heads of federal agencies: “I didn’t know exactly how we have. [Oath Keepers] will act or when … – if the general population stands up to resist the fraud, and then we step in and help them, or make them do something – but I think it meant after Biden was confirmed that there would then be a reaction and resistance”.
Young said he did not bring a gun to Washington because he was traveling by air, and Meggs said he would bring one for him. However, Young said he and his sister, a former police officer in North Carolina, brought a couple of handguns with them to the D.C. area.
In Washington that day, Meggs made the decision for a group of Oath Keepers to go to the Capitol to meet with Rhodes after hearing that the police barricades had been breached and was in communication with Rhodes, Young testified.
Once there, Young said he put his hand on the shoulder of co-defendant Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida Oath Keepers member and co-defendant. Young said the pair spent about 30 minutes inside the Capitol after “pushing” their way into the building and joining a crowd that tried to push through police guarding the Senate chamber before being pushed back. from chemical irritants.
Young pleaded guilty in June 2021 to conspiracy and obstruction of an official congressional proceeding. He later testified that prosecutors offered to drop four other counts and reduce a recommended prison term from 63 to 78 months in a plea deal for his “substantial cooperation.”
Young’s testimony, coming in the fifth week of the trial and after the trial had been interrupted last week by Rhodes, tested positive for the coronavirusIt could be central to whether prosecutors can distinguish the actions of Rhodes and his co-defendants from those of nearly 300 who are accused of having tried or conspired to obstruct Congress but did not use force to oppose the government
Two weeks ago, a second operative, Jason Dolan, 46, of Wellington, Fla., testified that members of the group were prepared to prevent Congress from confirming the outcome of the 2020 election “by any means necessary “, including armed combat, and was attacking. with potentially dying a “traitor” death.
“It would be a traditional fight against what I saw as an illegitimate form of government,” Dolan explained. Like Young, Dolan testified that Rhodes had said Oath Keepers would act even if Trump did not: “We will act to stop the certification of the election … by any means necessary. That’s why we brought our firearms”.
But Dolan also testified that he knew of no order or “specific mission” to enter the building and took it as “commander’s intent” or general purpose to keep Trump in office.
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