November 10, 2022 |
Lawyers for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes have called an FBI informant to testify as a witness in Rhodes’ defense against charges of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. Lawyers said that FBI informant was on his way to the trial when he suffered a heart attack.
Greg McWhirter, who served as the Oath Keepers’ vice president while informing on the group for the FBI, was set to testify as a defense witness in Rhodes’ case on Tuesday, the New York Times reported. At an impromptu meeting on Tuesday, Rhodes’ attorneys said McWhirter had boarded a plane to come testify for the trial but had to be taken off and hospitalized over a heart attack.
According to the New York Times, McWhirter is the second FBI confidential source that they are aware of that was in position to pass information about the Oath Keepers’ activities on Jan. 6, 2021 to federal authorities. Rhodes’ defense team made the unusual move to call McWhirter to testify as a defense witness after federal prosecutors rested their case last week without calling him and several other cooperating witnesses to testify against Rhodes.
McWhirter, 40, previously worked as a sheriff’s deputy in Montana. He boarded a plane on Tuesday to come to federal court in Washington D.C., where Rhodes is being tried, but lawyers said he was taken off the plane after suffering a heart attack.
Due to the medical episode, the FBI informant was unable to testify on Tuesday.
Rhodes’ defense still wants McWhirter to testify. At the end of court proceedings on Tuesday presiding Judge Amit P. Mehta said the court may be able to accommodate McWhirter to testify remotely by a video call.
In court on Monday, Rhodes said he was at a hotel room in Virginia when demonstrators entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. He further testified that he never planned for Oath Keepers to enter the Capitol that day for any reason.
Rhodes said his primary focus that day was on encouraging then-President Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and use other legal means to contest the 2020 election results, rather than disrupting Congress’s process that day to certify election results. Rhodes characterized Oath Keepers entering the capitol that day as counterproductive and said they went “off-mission.”
After prosecutors had argued in their case that Rhodes didn’t discourage the riotous acts that day and went to the Capitol, Rhodes countered during his testimony by saying that he only went to the Capitol later that day to rally his followers to leave the area.
During his testimony, Rhodes also pushed back against the allegation he had a so-called “quick reaction force” waiting in Virginia and ready to bring weapons into Washington D.C. The Oath Keeper’s founder said he was not in command of this quick reaction force (QRF), that he had delegated away most of the oversight of the Oath Keepers activities that day and that he warned members of the group to be careful about what they brought into D.C., considering the city’s strict gun laws.
It is unclear if or how this QRF ever became involved in the events of Jan. 6, 2021.