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Oath Keepers leader offers Jan. 6 testimony — but only if it's live

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes says he will waive his Fifth Amendment rights and testify to the Jan. 6 select committee if they permit him to testify in person.

Rhodes, who is currently incarcerated while awaiting trial on seditious conspiracy charges for his role in the breach of the Capitol, says he wants the committee to arrange with the U.S. Marshals Service to permit him to appear in person at the Capitol complex rather than testify from the jail, and to be permitted to have his legal counsel accompany him.

“He wants to confront them,” Rhodes’ attorney James Bright said in a phone interview.

The committee declined to comment on Rhodes’ request. The panel’s next hearing, slated for Tuesday, is expected to focus on the role of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys preparation.

Bright said he doesn’t anticipate the arrangements could be made in time for Tuesday’s hearing but hopes the panel would consider rescheduling or adding a date for Rhodes to testify. The panel has so far not agreed to other witnesses’ demands for live testimony without first appearing for a taped deposition.

Bright said Rhodes is unwilling to sit for a taped deposition, saying he doesn’t trust the panel to air Rhodes’ remarks in full.

Rhodes previously interviewed with the committee but largely invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Prosecutors say Rhodes was the ringleader of a plan to violently prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Several members of the group have already pleaded guilty to their roles in the planning, including at least two who have pleaded to seditious conspiracy.

Rhodes’ associates had stockpiled weapons at a hotel in Arlington, Va. that they intended to ferry into Washington if Trump had invoked the Insurrection Act in an attempt to remain in power. They ultimately did not bring weapons to the Capitol but more than a dozen pushed their way into the building in stack formations cited by prosecutors as evidence of their plans. Rhodes did not enter the building but was seen outside the Capitol huddling with members of the group.

Prosecutors are also exploring links between the Oath Keepers and another extremist group, the Proud Boys, following video evidence of a meeting between Rhodes and Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio in a parking garage on Jan. 5, captured by a documentary film crew.