Oath Keepers Trial Rocked by Wacky Sexts Between Militia Boss and Lawyer
Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes and the far-right militia group’s lawyer sent each other sexually explicit text messages in the days leading up to the Capitol Riot, federal prosecutors revealed on Monday.
“Speaking of fucking... if you need some come on over,” Rhodes texted general counsel Kellye SoRelle on Jan. 2, 2021, according to a message shown in court. “Maybe I’ll drag you into my hotel room and throw you on the bed then.”
SoRelle, in a text message shown in court, responded: “See that’s how I know you’re trouble. You’re too good at what you do. Whole bad boy thing. I am a damn moth to a [flame emoji]. I really am replaying my teenage years.”
Whether sent in jest or not, the racy text messages between Rhodes and SoRelle—the attorney has denied they had any kind of romantic relationship—come as prosecutors attempt to challenge any claim of attorney-client privilege between the duo. Last week, District of Columbia Judge Amit Mehta ruled that prosecutors would be allowed to show the messages in an attempt to prove there the relationship between Rhodes and SoRelle before the Capitol riots wasn’t strictly professional.
“I think it’s quite clear from the context of the statements that these are personal text messages and do not meet the definition” of attorney-client privilege, Mehta said on Thursday.
Prosecutors and some defense lawyers previously claimed SoRelle—who is facing separate charges in connection with the Jan. 6 insurrection herself—was romantically linked to her former client.
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For his part, Rhodes’ defense team last week filed a motion insisting that SoRelle was simply a licensed attorney who had done pro bono work for the Oath Keepers at the founder’s behest since 2020.
Prosecutors say shedding more light on the relationship will bolster their argument that Rhodes and other far-right militia members executed a long-planned mission to “shatter a bedrock of American democracy” with their actions at and around the riot. Five Oath Keepers, including Rhodes, are currently on trial for charges of seditious conspiracy, a rare Civil War-era offense that is the most serious allegation lobbed at anyone in connection with the attack.
Rhodes’ estranged wife, Tasha Adams, suggested the texts could undermine his claims that the Oath Keepers were working a legitimate security job and protecting rally-goers on Jan. 6.
"Most people don’t want to fool around the night before a test. It’s stressful, right? To me this [shows] the mindset. This wasn’t stressful to him. He’s high on dopamine or something. He’s loving this. He’s getting ready to attempt an overthrow of the government and he’s trying to be all flirty and alpha male," Adams told The Daily Beast. "He’s not stressed out about working a security job or saying, ‘We’ve got to keep the VIPs safe,’ the whole thing he’s trying to say [in his defense]. He’s not focused on any of that."
Adams filed to divorce Rhodes in 2018. The case has stalled in court for years, with Rhodes fighting the proceedings. Following the Capitol riot, Adams and her adult children have gone public about Rhodes’ alleged misbehavior toward family members, and his political radicalization. Now, Adams said she hopes to have successfully divorced her ex by the end of the year.
Thanks Guys for the texts and messages. #MAGADATING Thanks USG. 😂 https://t.co/Dpv1WW5spC
— Kellye SoRelle, Attorney (@kellyesorelle) October 17, 2022
All five defendants—which include Rhodes, retired Navy intelligence officer Thomas Caldwell, Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs, member Kenneth Harrelson, and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group—have pleaded not guilty and face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Throughout the trial, prosecutors have painted a picture of the far-right group engaging in a meticulous planning process dating to at least December 2020. While Rhodes is not accused of entering the Capitol, prosecutors say he surveyed his “troops” like a general during the riot as they stormed the building in coordination with other far-right groups.
Prosecutors on Monday also showed jurors surveillance video taken after the insurrection that showed Watkins, Caldwell, and another Oath Keeper saluting each other at a hotel. Other militia members were also seen in the footage hauling large cases into their hotel rooms—which prosecutors allege continued weapons.
SoRelle, who was a volunteer with Lawyers for Trump during the election, is accused in a separate case of conspiring to obstruct the Electoral College certification of Joe Biden’s victory and hiding and destroying evidence to obstruct the criminal investigation into the riots. Prosecutors in her case say that she was also in encrypted chats with other Oath Keepers.
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