More evidence in the ongoing seditious conspiracy trial of five members of the Oath Keepers militia group has emerged showing that the FBI knew of preparations for an attack on Congress by fascist groups aligned with former President Donald Trump months before January 2021.
For the second time in the trial, a member of the Oath Keepers group has been revealed to have been in communication with the Federal Bureau of Investigation well before the violent attack on Congress.
On November 8, the New York Times, citing “two people familiar with the matter,” reported that former Oath Keepers Vice President Greg McWhirter is a confidential informant for the FBI. McWhirter, 40, is the current owner of the Western Montana Tactical Training Center and a former sheriff’s deputy in Montana and Indiana. In addition to being vice president of Oath Keepers, McWhirter sat on the Oath Keepers board of directors.
The Times report was confirmed later that day, after prosecutors with the Department of Justice confirmed in a sealed filing that McWhirter was a “confidential human source.” In court documents, federal prosecutors asked the court to investigate whether the fact that McWhirter was a government witness was leaked by members of the defense to the Times, writing that the disclosure of the information “could compromise sensitive law-enforcement techniques and witness safety.”
A biography on coasttocoastam.com of McWhirter notes that the Oath Keeper deployed to Houston in 2016 following Hurricane Harvey and “liaised with federal and local government.”
McWhirter was scheduled to testify on behalf of the defense on Tuesday, the same day that the New York Times article appeared. However, he apparently suffered a heart attack prior to boarding an airplane on his way to Washington D.C. and was subsequently hospitalized. He will no longer testify in the case.
McWhirter is the second member of the Oath Keepers to have been revealed as a government informant. In October, former Oath Keepers West Virginia chapter leader Abdullah Rasheed testified that after hearing what he described as a plot by Rhodes to overthrow the government in a November 9, 2020 online meeting, he immediately contacted the FBI, sending them a full recording of the meeting.
“The more I listened to the call it sounded like we were going to war against the United States government,” Rasheed testified. The former Marine claimed, and the government confirmed, that no attempts to interview him were made by the FBI until March 2021, after Rasheed resent the November 9, 2020 audio recording to the FBI.
In addition to the FBI, it was revealed earlier in the trial that several members of the Oath Keepers, not just Rhodes, had working relationships with US Secret Service agents prior to the attack on the Capitol.
The Oath Keepers were not the only fascist group riddled with informants that attacked the Capitol on January 6. Former chairman of the Proud Boys Henry “Enrique” Tarrio is also an admitted FBI informant. Tarrio, like Rhodes, is also facing seditious conspiracy charges.
In addition to the founder of the group, Elmer Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keepers leaders Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson, Thomas Caldwell and Kelly Meggs have also been charged with seditious conspiracy, a Civil War-era charge that carries a 20-year prison sentence.
The unmasking of yet another high-level informant within the Oath Keepers militia further exposes the role of the FBI, the principal federal domestic intelligence agency, in facilitating the attack on the Capitol.
This is part of the agency’s long history of cultivating fascistic elements to implement the policies and agenda of the ruling elite and attack working class demands for equality and democratic rights.
In its November 8 report, the Times wrote that as part of his cooperation with the government, McWhirter leaked information about a plot by the Oath Keepers to “ambush” a suspected member of “antifa” in Portland, Oregon.
According to the Times, McWhirter was in contact with the FBI regarding the Oath Keeper “lure and ambush” plot in September 2020. During that same month, a remarkably similar incident to the one McWhirter described to the FBI occurred in the Pacific Northwest.
During an August 29, 2020 protest in Portland, Oregon, Michael Reinoehl, a regular participant in protests against police violence, was involved in a fight that turned deadly with members of the far-right group Patriot Prayer.
Armed with paintball and real guns, members of Patriot Prayer menaced protesters at the event, including spraying them with bear mace. Police did not interfere as the fascists sped around in their pickup trucks assaulting protesters.
Within this context, an altercation occurred between Reinoehl and Patriot Prayer member Aaron “Jay” Danielson, who was spraying protesters and Reinoehl with bear mace. Danielson was also being armed with a steel baton and a pistol at the time. The altercation ended with Reinoehl shooting and killing Danielson.
In an interview with Vice, Reinoehl admitted to killing Danielson, for which he was being “hunted” by the police. Reinoehl was killed in a hail of police gunfire the same day the Vice interview was published.
The Oath Keepers trial resumes on Monday and is expected to continue through the end of November. Last week featured testimony from Rhodes as well as his second-in-command, Michael Greene, also known as “Whip.” Greene, an Iraqi war veteran and former Blackwater mercenary, was tasked with leading the January 6 operation. He also served as a bodyguard to Trump political crony Roger Stone.
Greene has not been charged with seditious conspiracy but is being charged with several other felonies for his actions on January 6, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. During cross-examination, he tried to claim that the Oath Keepers had no plan on January 6 and that they were just in Washington to protect high-level Republican operatives.
In response, prosecutors presented text messages sent from Greene on January 6. In one exchange an unidentified person texted Greene at 1:41 p.m., “Amazing day,” to which Greene responded one minute later: “Storming the Capitol.”
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