Elmer Stewart Rhodes III goes to trial this week for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on Congress and the U.S. Capitol.
Jason Van Tatenhove, the former Oath Keepers spokesperson, told MSNBC that had Donald Trump walked down to the Capitol on Jan. 6 things would have gone a different way.
"I think they were absolutely serious. I think if things had gone just a little bit differently, we would be living in a different reality right now," he told MSNBC's Joy Reid. "You know, if you look at his words and his messaging he was putting out just the night before, at the speeches, with what has been released with the prosecution, the messaging that were [sic] happening, specifically on Signal and behind the scenes, I think that's really where we see where his state of mind was. And you know, if things had just gone -- if Trump had walked down to the Capitol building, I think Stewart's actions would have been completely different."
Former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson relayed a story that deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato told her about Trump attempting to take the wheel of the SUV to drive up to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse. Trump said that it was impossible for him to reach the wheel.
Hutchinson also testified to the committee that White House Counsel Pat Cipollone told her that they had to do whatever it took to keep Trump from going to the Capitol and, that if he did, arrests among administration officials would quickly follow.
Van Tatenhove also said that he thinks there were lines of communication open between the militias and the White House and the Trump campaign.
"I think that they were actively trying to open those lines both from the militia side and from the White House side, from the campaign side," he said. "I think that they probably connected up a while back. I think without that type of connection, you know, he may have shown up as like a protester, but nothing like he was there. Because it seemed like he was getting messaging like he was taking orders from Trump."
He also agreed that the kind of attitude Roger Stone had about "shoot to kill" was the same as Rhodes'.
"I mean, he was talking about how we don't get out of this without a Civil War," said Van Tatenhove. "This is the messaging he's been, you know, putting out there, time and time again since, you know, the early days. It's just gotten more and more extreme and more and more violent. Before, he was talking about what would be termed a cold civil war. But really, he's talking about a hot civil war now, and that's part of the messaging. That messaging is ratcheted up over time, and we saw that with the culmination of Jan. 6th."
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