Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes testified in his own defense Monday in his federal trial that he was not part of planning the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, saying such a breach of the building "was nowhere in the mission scope at all," NPR reported.
Rhodes added that members of his group who burst into the building made a "stupid" decision, which he only learned about after the fact.
He insisted breaching the Capitol "opened the door for our political enemies to persecute us," pointing out that is exactly what happened as evidenced by his trial, which is now in its sixth week.
Rhodes and four other defendants are charged with seditious conspiracy, with prosecutors having presented hundreds of text messages and witnesses who linked them to sometimes violent rhetoric about keeping former President Donald Trump in power despite his defeat in the election.
Rhodes said he spent the morning of Jan. 6 at a hotel, traveling to the Capitol only after he had heard the barricades had been breached, Politico reported.
He added he had difficulty communicating that day with allies due to poor cellphone service.
Rhodes used a large part of his testimony Monday to differentiate his hope for Trump to remain in power from the group's presence in Washington, D.C., which he said was to carry out security details and escort Trump supporters from the Ellipse, near the White House, to the Capitol.
Rhodes insisted that work was distinct from his urging of Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and call up the Oath Keepers as a state-sanctioned militia, which he repeatedly said he believed would have been within the president's legal and constitutional authority, according to Politico.
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