What Constitution? Federal judge denies leader of Oath Keepers the right to fire his legal team and hire new counsel


Washington D.C.: U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, the presiding federal judge over the trial of Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes III recently denied a request from Rhodes to change counsel for the trial set to begin in three weeks.

Rhodes, an attorney himself, argued in his motion that there is a breakdown of communication between him and his legal team-attorneys Phillip Linder and James Lee Bright.

Judge Mehta disagreed.

What Constitution? Federal judge denies leader of Oath Keepers the right to fire his legal team and hire new counsel
Image of Elmer Steward Rhodes III. Image screenshot taken from Fox 4 Dallas-Fort Worth YouTube channel.

According to a recent The Epoch Times article:

“I have not had a whiff of any dissension, difficulty, conflict, what have you—between Mr Rhodes and his lawyers until yesterday,’ Mehta said.”

According to the column, Judge Mehta continued:

“The idea that all of a sudden three weeks before trial there is a complete breakdown of communication and disrepair of the lawyer-client relationship is just not consistent with this record. Frankly, it’s not consistent with what I’ve just been told.”

Mehta said that it would be virtually impossible to prepare for a new trial in the requested 90 days. With cases and trials backlogged all over the country due to pandemic closures and procedures, a new trial wouldn’t occur until mid-2023, at the earliest.

The Oath Keepers

The Oath Keepers is a group of far right-wing patriots who state they will defend the Constitution of the United States at all costs.

Critics of the organization claim that it is an anti-government militia who are dangerous and poses a threat to the public.

Justice Department threatens Oath Keepers involved in January 6 protests with life in prison
January 6 protest, YouTube screenshot

It was founded by an attorney, veteran and para-trooper Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, who is the main focus of the upcoming trial.

Rhodes, along with several other Oath Keepers are set to stand trial for their role in the last presidential election. The charges allege that they conspired to impact the Electoral College votes and interfere and prevent the transition of power any way possible, to include using force.

Mehta was adamant about the request and made many steamed comments regarding what he considers ‘havoc.’

According to Rhodes, he claims in his motion that his attorneys have failed to meet important court deadlines and failed to file certain motions.

According to the Epoch column:

“Let me tell you something. The notion that you are going to create the kind of havoc—havoc is the only appropriate word I can think of— by moving Mr Rhodes’ trial … not going to happen,’ Mehta said.”

The column continues:

“I want to at the outset make this record completely clear that I think there are a number of incorrect and frankly bewildering statements that are made in the motion,’ Mehta said. ‘I want there to be no misunderstanding or misimpression of what the real facts are.”

What Constitution? Federal judge denies leader of Oath Keepers the right to fire his legal team and hire new counsel
Judge Mehta was involved in another high profile case. Image screenshot taken from the WION YouTube channel.

Mehta made assertions that Rhodes has already received more accommodations, like regular computer access to view evidence footage, than any other defendant of the Jan. 6 events have.

Mehta has also opened up opportunities for Rhodes’ new requested attorney, Edward Tarpley Jr. to be included into Rhodes’ team.

Mehta said:

“We can make room,’ Mehta said. ‘We’ve got enough tables. Come on, it’s a big group.”

However, there is already tension between the new and the original attorneys, Tarpley and Bright. Bright publicly stated he did not want to sit at the defense table with Tarpley, nor does Rhodes want Bright there, either.

Mehta believes he has been more than reasonably accommodating on every issue Rhodes’ team presented. But he drew the line in the sand once the request for new counsel was submitted.

Mehta said:

“’I’m not at all suggesting Mr Tarpley that you may not be someone who could assist Mr Rhodes,’ Mehta said, ‘but the idea that you having had 42 to 72 hours with Mr Rhodes, to characterize these proceedings, dare I say is a little problematic.’”

It is unclear whether Rhodes’ request for new counsel on the grounds of a breakdown of communication is legitimate or a ruse intended for some other tactic.

What Constitution? Federal judge denies leader of Oath Keepers the right to fire his legal team and hire new counsel

Unfortunately for Rhodes, the trial will proceed as scheduled. It will begin on September later this month when 150 potential jurors report for jury duty selection process. They will begin with filling out questionnaires.

Mehta said any other issues or requests can be submitted as filings.

At this point, Rhodes and his team can only hope for a fair trial and his legal team can find some common ground to work on. His future depends on it.

What Constitution? Federal judge denies leader of Oath Keepers the right to fire his legal team and hire new counsel

More Oath Keepers news.
Mainstream media silence: Antifa terrorist brings bomb to Florida Oath Keepers’ rally

Posted January 10, 2022

PETERSBURG, FL – An Antifa terrorist with homemade explosive devices was arrested early Friday near a Tampa Bay area Oath Keepers’ rally in support of a man being held in connection with last year’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and mainstream media turned its head.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office announced that a 22-year-old Oldsmar man was arrested early Friday morning after being found with a homemade explosive device near the site of the anniversary rally for Jan. 6.

Garrett James Smith was arrested on charges of making and possessing a destructive device and loitering. He has been jailed on $300,000 bond.

On Thursday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced at a press conference that Smith had been arrested after bringing the explosive device to a protest outside the county courthouse in Largo.

More explosives found at suspect's house - Screenshot courtesy of Andy Ngo on YouTube
More explosives found at suspect’s house – Screenshot courtesy of Andy Ngo on YouTube

The protest was organized to oppose the detention of Jeremy Brown, a retired special forces U.S. Army officer who served 20 years in the military. He was arrested in late September on charges of entering restricted grounds and possession of unregistered firearms during the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Gualtieri said that Smith was wearing a face covering and dressed in all black at the time of his arrest. The typical uniform of Antifa.

He was observed running away from the protest carrying a black backpack, and deputies captured him at 44th Ave North just west of 46th Street North in Clearwater.

Smith was arrested for loitering and prowling. When officers searched his backpack, they found an explosive device.

Sheriff’s deputies also found a piece of paper titled “direct action checklist,” where Smith made a list of clothing, armor, and gear to bring, including listed items such as a helmet and shaded goggles, a gas mask, duct tape and flammable rags.

Police searched the area and found no other explosives in the area.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and FBI Tampa’s bomb technician confirmed it was an active explosive device, and K9s and heat-sensing helicopters were brought into search the area after protesters were cleared from the site.

A search warrant was executed on Smith’s residence, where police recovered additional explosive devices, according to the Sheriff. Federal agents who searched Brown’s home found a sawed-off shotgun, short-barrel rifle, hand grenades and more than 8,000 rounds of ammunition.

During the press conference, Gualtieri characterized Smith as a “sleeper.”

“Smith is what we call a sleeper, and these are the most concerning individuals because there are no opportunities to intervene and thwart their criminal activity before they actually act.”

The suspect did not place or detonate any explosives, and Gualtieri said Smith was cooperating with investigators.

The arrest papers filed by the police included a notation under the “aggravating/mitigating” section stating “Antifa” and a request for high bail.

Remarkably, the mainstream media has ignored the arrest and few reports of the domestic terrorism incident could be found in the media outlets. Searchs of the mainstream media sites, including CNN and MSNBC, found no mention of the incident.

J.D. Rucjer, writer for The Liberty Daily, called out the hypocrisy of the media ignoring the domestic terrorism story:

“Mainstream media is funny. They no longer attempt to hide their bias. As news unfolds, they turn the knobs of their ‘suppress’ and ‘amplify’ controls used to determine which ‘truths’ they’re going to distort on any given day…

“Imagine if a Proud Boy came to a Black Lives Matter rally with an explosive in his backpack. Imagine if the police chased him down and arrested him for it. Would that make the news? Of course.

In fact, it would be the hottest topic on every news channel as they roll in experts to decry how right-wing domestic terrorists driven by the MAGA movement, Donald Trump. Republicans, Christians, and conservatives are to blame for all of our nation’s troubles.”

Rucjer pointed out that even the media that did cover the story, like local news outlet Tampa Bay Times, spent more time attacking the rally than the Antifa terrorist.

He also decried the failure of the media to identify Smith as an Antifa terrorist, despite unmistakable evidence:

“From here, the ‘journalist’ chose to spend the next five paragraphs lambasting the rally, highlighting Brown’s alleged crimes, and pointing out how the Oath Keepers are a ‘far-right … extremist group.’

This is important because there are no similar descriptions of Antifa when they finally mention them several paragraphs later.

“But perhaps the most infuriating part of this ‘news’ coverage is that they go out of their way to not acknowledge Smith is an Antifa thug despite listing several pieces of evidence that should have made it clear.”

What Constitution? Federal judge denies leader of Oath Keepers the right to fire his legal team and hire new counsel

Other Oath Keeper news.

Attorney: Accused ‘Oath Keepers’ Capitol rioter a disabled vet who worked for FBI, holds top-security clearance

Posted February 10, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC- A Virginia man claimed to be the leader of a so-called “far-right” militia group is denying any involvement in the January 6 ruckus at the US Capitol, an incident far-left Democrats are referring to as an “insurrection” and for which they’ve launched another impeachment of now-former President Donald Trump, the New York Post is reporting.

In a court motion filed on Monday by attorney Thomas Plofchan, Thomas Edward Caldwell is claiming that he worked as an FBI section chief from 2009 to 2010 following his retirement from the United States Navy as a lieutenant commander.

Caldwell is being accused of having a “leadership role” in the Oath Keepers, described by some as being a militia group.

Caldwell, 66, also holds a top-secret security clearance dating back to 1979, his attorney’s motion states, which required numerous background checks, while also running a consulting firm that did classified work for the United States government, Plofchan’s motion said.

“He has been vetted and found numerous times as a person worthy of trust and confidence of the United States government, as indicated by granting him Top Secret clearance,” the motion read. 

The motion seeks to have Caldwell released from custody ahead of trial based on charges that he had allegedly coordinated with two other Oath Keepers to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, citing his military career while insisting a “service-connected” injury to his shoulder, back and knees would have prevented him from any involvement in storming the Capitol.

Caldwell had failed back surgery in 2010 after having retired from the Navy as a “disabled veteran.”

He was also later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the filing states.

Caldwell denies being a member of the Oath Keepers and was arrested on Jan. 19 on charges of conspiracy, obstructing an official proceeding, destruction of government property and unlawful entry on restricted buildings or grounds.

He is part of a group of some 200 people who have already been charged in the Jan. 6 incident, protesting the certification of Biden as president.

Prior to January 6, Caldwell had posted a message on social media which read:

“It begins for real January 5 and 6 on (sic) Washington, DC, when we mobilize in the streets. Let them try to certify some crud on Capitol Hill with a million or more patriots in the streets. The kettle is set to boil.”

The Post noted that it’s unknown if Caldwell was hired directly to work as an FBI section chief, or if he had other positions in the FBI.

The filing notes that he was paid as a GS-12 level federal employee, a designation generally held by “white collar employees in mid-level positions” earning up to $86,000 annually, according to a federal compensation website.

According to WUSA, that salary range is much lower than the expected salary one would expect of a section chief, according to WUSA.

Mr. Caldwell has been locked up in Virginia since his arrest. As of Tuesday, federal prosecutors had not filed a response to Plofchan’s motion, with no hearing date set to adjudicate the filing, WUSA said.

The Post reached out to Plofchan for comment, but the call was not returned as of press time, they said.

Meanwhile, FBI officials refused to comment on the claims contained in Plofchan’s motion.

“It is FBI policy not to comment on personnel matters,” FBI officials told the Post in a statement.

According to federal prosecutors, Oath Keepers are a rather large, but loosely organized group of “militia members” who believe the government has been taken over by a “shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights,” according to court documents.

While the group accepts “anyone” as new members, they focus on recruiting current and former military, law enforcement and first-responder personnel, prosecutors said.

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