Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi told CNN last week, “We are aware that people from the Oath Keepers have called us in the past to make queries.”
It’s typical practice for law enforcement officials to keep in touch with organizations that are the subject of an investigation. Testimony obtained in congressional and federal investigations shows that the Oath Keepers and other extremist organizations that came to Washington for demonstrations following the 2020 election had multiple encounters with local and federal law enforcement officials.
The Oath Keepers’ connection to the outside world is under more examination after evidence last week showed that its leader, Stewart Rhodes, claimed to be in contact with agents.
Oath Keepers’ former North Carolina leader John Zimmerman said that he had reason to suspect that Rhodes had been in contact with a Secret Service agent in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election.
Zimmerman, who has not been charged with a crime, claimed that in September, members of the Oath Keepers gathered in Fayetteville, North Carolina, for a campaign rally for then-candidate Donald Trump. The Oath Keepers are currently on trial for charges related to the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, including seditious conspiracy.
According to him, Oath Keepers were there at the protest to recruit new members and provide personal protection services.
According to Zimmerman’s testimony, Rhodes claimed he spoke with a Secret Service agent who told the protest’s organizers which kind of guns were permitted on rally grounds. Zimmerman said he didn’t catch everything, but Rhodes insisted many times that he was communicating with a representative.
In court, a discussion of the Rhodes chat group.
New evidence produced in court on Thursday suggests that Rhodes told fellow Oath Keepers members in a group conversation that he thought the US Secret Service would be “glad” to have their aid if Trump called upon them as a militia.
This document was used as evidence in the prosecution of Rhodes and four others for seditious conspiracy. The five defendants have entered not guilty pleas.
Prosecutors quote Rhodes as saying, “If he calls us up as a militia, I believe the secret service would be pleased to have us out there.” The Secret Service had been in communication with the Oath Keepers on many occasions before to January 6 and, according to Rhodes, this led them to this conclusion.