Text messages between Oath Keepers founder and lawyer not protected, US judge rules

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (Reuters) – US prosecutors will be allowed to introduce potentially incriminating messages between the leader of the Oath Keepers and the far-right group’s general counsel, a judge ruled on Thursday, saying the texts were personal in nature and do not fall under attorney-client privileges.

Prosecutors had briefly shown the court a December 2020 message from founder Stewart Rhodes to lawyer Kellye SoRelle before the defense objected last week. Rhodes is one of five Oath Keepers on trial for their alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

“This will be DC rally number three. Getting kinda old. They don’t give a shit how many show up and wave a sign, pray, or yell. They won’t fear us till we come with rifles in hand,” Rhodes said in the Dec. 29, 2020 message to SoRelle, according to testimony by FBI Special Agent Byron Cody.

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Prosecutors filed a motion this week seeking to admit messages sent between Rhodes and SoRelle in December 2020, arguing there was no evidence of an attorney-client relationship between the two before Jan. 6, 2021. The defense responded that SoRelle was a licensed attorney and had done pro bono work for the Oath Keepers in 2020 at Rhodes’ request.

“I think it’s quite clear from the context of the statements that these are personal text messages and do not meet the definition” of attorney-client messages, District of Columbia Judge Amit Mehta said on Thursday.

The move opens the door for the government to recall Cody and submit as evidence the December 2020 communications between Rhodes and SoRelle.

Last month, SoRelle was charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding in connection with the Jan. 6 riot after

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Kellye SoRelle, alleged Jan. 6 participant and Oath Keepers attorney, charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice

A Texas attorney has been charged for her alleged role in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. Kellye SoRelle, 43, is accused of witness tampering and conspiracy, according to an indictment obtained by CBS News.

SoRelle, who confirmed earlier this year to CBS News that she acted as president of the Oath Keepers after the arrest of founder Stewart Rhodeswas arrested Thursday morning after a US attorney signed issued an indictment against her Wednesday.

The New York Times was first to report on the indictment.

According to the indictment, between December 2020 and January 2021, SoRelle attempted to “corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede” Congress from certifying the 2020 election and “did aid and abet others known and unknown to the Grand Jury to do the same.” SoRelle, according to the charging documents, planned to impede the peaceful transfer of power.

She is accused of unlawfully entering the US Capitol complex on Jan. 6, as well as tampering with documents when she allegedly tried to persuade people to “withhold records, documents and other objects” from the Grand Jury tasked with investigating the Jan. 6 riots.

SoRelle also sought to “alter, destroy, mutilate, and conceal objects with intent to impair the objects’ integrity and availability for use in such a Grand Jury investigation,” the charging documents said.

According to an individual familiar with the matter, SoRelle was present in a Washington, DC, parking garage where Rhodes and Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio met just a day before the attack. A documentary film crew captured the meeting and the footage was featured in one of the House January 6 Committee’s hearings earlier this year. Tarrio has also been charged with a sad conspiracy and pleaded not guilty.

She will make her initial appearance sometime after 11 am CT in

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