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Oath Keepers


Oath Keepers is a far-right militia group established in 2009 by Stewart Rhodes, a graduate of Yale Law School and former aide to Republican congressman Ron Paul (who ran for president in 2008 and 2012). The group was founded as a backlash to the Obama presidency and usually recruits from current and former members of the police and armed forces. 

Classified as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Oath Keepers is now one of the largest anti-government organizations in the U.S. Members have provided armed security for events such as the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. They “patrolled” polling sites during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections—allegedly to prevent voter fraud—and in 2014 roamed the streets of Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown—purportedly to provide security for local businesses. 

For a decade, Dan Schultz, an Arizona Republican affiliated with the Oath Keepers, has pushed fellow extremists to exert more influence over the GOP. “Why don’t you all join me and the other Oath Keepers who are ‘inside’ the Party already,” he wrote in a chat room post. “If we conservatives were to do that, we’d OWN the Party.” Steve Bannon has actively promoted the idea on his War Room podcast and a 2022 investigation determined that hundreds of Oath Keepers are not only GOP voters but hold elected office.

January 6, 2021

  • Rhodes and other Oath Keeper leaders discussed providing security to key Trump allies such as Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Ali Alexander, and Alex Jones attending various events in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 5 and 6, 2021. 
  • Oath Keepers shared a message on Jan. 6 about protecting Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), a devoted Trump ally, during the attack on the Capitol—suggesting a possible link between an elected official and the militia. 
  • Text messages from Oath Keepers also show communication with the Proud Boys, another far-right militia group, suggesting that the organizations were coordinating the attack on the Capitol. 
  • In January 2022, the FBI arrested Rhodes and 10 other Oath Keepers on charges of seditious conspiracy for their role in the insurrection. Three defendants have pleaded guilty, and after multiple delays, Rhodes’ trial began in late September.

The Big Lie

  • Oath Keeper Joshua Merritt, an army veteran, provided documents to Trump’s attorney, Sidney Powell, allegedly proving fraud in the 2020 presidential election.