The Oath Keepers founder was giving directions before and during the Capitol riot on January 6, according to the Department of Justice.
The DOJ says Stewart Rhodes was a key presence among the rioters, telling them where to go and gathering with them in person at the Capitol.
A late-night court filing Monday alleged that Rhodes directed the group of rioters from the rally to the southeast steps of the Capitol, where several forced their entry into the building.
Prosecutors said they had recovered a chat called “DC OP: Jan 6 21” on the encrypted Signal messaging app that “shows that individuals, including those alleged to have conspired with [others], were actively planning to use force and violence.”
Prosecutors said that participants in the messaging app chat included Rhodes (identified as Person One), and two other Oath Keepers who have already been charged, Jessica Watkins, 38, an Ohio leader; and Kelly Meggs, 52, of Florida.
The court filing said that Rhodes, Watkins, Meggs and “regional Oath Keeper leaders from multiple states across the country” discussed in the chat plans to come to Washington on January 5 and 6 to provide security for speakers and VIPs. Prosecutors said there was no discussion in the chat for forced entry until January 6.
Rhodes has not been charged and was not named as a conspirator. Rhodes has repeatedly denied any advance knowledge of Oath Keepers planning to forcibly enter the Capitol building.
During the Jan. 6 event, the chat showed that the group “was activating a plan to use force,” prosecutors said.
As President Donald Trump was finishing his speech near the White House, Rhodes, according to prosecutors, wrote to the group at 1:38 p.m.: “All I see Trump doing is complaining. I see no intent by him to do anything. So the patriots are taking it into their own hands. They’ve had enough.”