Oath Keeper Graydon Young said Jan. 6 attack was like ‘Bastille-type’ moment

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Star government witness testifies in tumultuous conspiracy trial against Oath Keepers founder Stuart Rhodes that he believed the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol could start a new American revolution, possibly led by an extremist group.

“I thought it was a ‘Bastille-type’ moment in history, like the French Revolution,” Florida Oath Keepers member Graydon Young testified.

“I feel like I acted like a traitor, someone acted against my government,” he said Rodas and four others are being sued in federal court in Washington.

Monday’s testimony by Young, 57, of Tampa County, is critical to 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 pile” outside the Capitol and carrying firearms near Washington.

Prosecutors must prove that even though Rhodes did not enter the building that day, he and his co-defendants conspired to use force to oppose a legitimate presidential transition, to obstruct Congress from meeting to confirm the 2020 election results, or to obstruct lawmakers.

What you need to know about the Oath Keepers trial

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 violence to oppose President Biden’s inauguration, although Young said there was no specific order to enter the Capitol. On January 6. or express consent to commit a crime.

“You knew there was no specific plan to break down the doors of the Capitol, is that correct?” Rhodes’ attorney, James Lee Bright, asked during cross-examination.

“Yes,” Yang replied.

But Young told prosecutor Jeffrey S. Nestler, “I participated in a conspiracy to obstruct Congress. We were going to disrupt Congress no matter where they met.

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“I thought it was common sense,” he said. “We talked about doing something about election fraud when we arrived on the 6th, and when the crowds entered the building over the barricades, there was an opportunity to do something.”

Young, a retired civilian software project manager and Navy Reserves information systems technician, told jurors how after the 2020 election, he got bored with his and his wife’s rental properties and childcare businesses and spent “two to six” hours a day following President Donald Trump . 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 Oath Keepers because “I felt like something had to change . done.”

“I was really emotionally invested in what was going on. It started to cloud my judgment and change my priorities,” Young said.

Young signed up to be a bodyguard for Trump political confidante Roger Stone in Florida, where he met with a paramilitary trainer. Young, who owned 10 firearms, including two military-style AR-15 rifles, said he researched firearms training using simulated firearms for his security team and reported to Rhoda and his co-defendant, Florida Oath Keepers Jan. 6 leader Kelly Maggs, who both. Directed the Oath Keepers’ operations in Washington that day, Young testified.

On the stand, Young said he remembered Trump’s attorney, Sidney Powell, saying the voting machines had been tampered with, and the U.S. government. was an accomplice; he believed it was time to stand up to a corrupt government that “forces us to accept invalid elections and whatever.”

Young testified that Meggs told other Florida members in encrypted chats in December 2020 that the Oath Keepers were ready to be potential leaders of “millions” once the resistance began. When Young fretted that an opposing federal agency was a “fool’s errand” and he and others doubted they could stop the election certification, Rhodes unexpectedly joined the chat to “motivate” them — “just like the CEO that shows up in your chat. “

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“It’s not a silly thing,” Rhodes said in the Christmas Day thread, just after another member claimed: “We’re going to be in charge of 2, 1776.”

Congress had to be afraid and convinced that “it will be a time of torches and pitchforks[f] they’re not doing the right thing,” Rhodes said, adding that if Trump didn’t act without calling in the military and private fighters to stay in power, the oath-keepers would.

Young said he took it as an implicit understanding that the Oath Keeper patriots would be up against an “enemy” made up of Congress, Biden and the heads of federal agencies: “I didn’t know exactly how we [Oath Keepers] will act or when … — would the citizens stop resisting the fraud and then we would step in and help them, or would we make them do something, but I think that meant after Biden was confirmed, then there would be a backlash and a backlash.”

Young said he did not bring the rifle to Washington because he was traveling by air, and Meggs said he would bring the rifle to 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 Rhoda after hearing that police barricades had been breached and contacted Rhoda, Young testified.

Former Oath Keeper outlines the dark worldview behind the attack on the US Capitol

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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 in the Capitol after he “pushed” into the building and joined a crowd that tried to push past police officers guarding the Senate chambers before being repelled by chemical irritants.

Young pleaded guilty in June 2021 to conspiracy and obstructing the official process of Congress. He testified after prosecutors offered to drop four other counts and reduce the recommended prison term from 63 to 78 months for his “significant cooperation.”

Young’s testimony, in the fifth week of the trial and after proceedings were halted last week when Rhodes tested positive for the coronavirus, could be key to whether prosecutors can distinguish the conduct of Rhodes and his co-defendants from the nearly 300 defendants. an attempt or conspiracy to obstruct Congress, but not to use force to oppose the government.

Two weeks ago, another contributor, Jason Dolan, 46, of Wellington, Florida, testified that members of the group were prepared to prevent Congress from confirming the results of the 2020 election “by any means,” including armed struggle, and fought back. with potentially dying a “treacherous” death.

Fighting what I saw as an illegitimate form of government “would be treacherous,” Dolan explained. Like Young, Dolan testified that Rhodes had stated that the Oath Keepers would act even if Trump did not: “We will act to stop the certification of the election … by any means necessary. So we brought our firearms.

But Dolan also testified that he was unaware of any order or “specific mission” to enter the building and saw it as “commander’s intent” or a general goal to keep Trump in office.

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