Oath Keepers spent $400 at Olive Garden after storming the Capitol

After members of his far-right anti-government militia group breached the halls of Congress on 6 January, 2021, part of an alleged conspiracy against the government, Stewart Rhodes told the group that he was heading to Olive Garden.

“Going to eat at Olive Garden,” the Oath Keepers leader wrote to the group on the encrypted messaging app Signal.

According to court documents and government evidence in the seditious conspiracy trial against Mr Rhodes and four others tied to the group, the Oath Keepers spent $408.82 at the Italian restaurant chain’s location in Vienna, Virginia – what prosecutors said was a way to “celebrate” after joining a mob at the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Federal prosecutors allege that Mr Rhodes and others spent weeks preparing their allies for an “attack” fuelled by baseless conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.

Over the course of the trial, now entering its fifth week, prosecutors and investigators have revealed dozens of text messages discussing the group’s plans leading up to and during the day of the insurrection. On 1 November, prosecutors argued that the group was not planning to quit after 6 January.

The former president told his supporters to leave the Capitol and Washington DC, but Oath Keepers members signalled that they weren’t “quitting” and merely “reloading,” text messages reveal.

“We aren’t quitting !!” defendant Kelly Meggs allegedly wrote via Signal. “We are reloading !!”

Defendant Jessica Watkins wrote on the social media platform Parler that night “we won’t back down in fear.”

“We are. AMERICANS!!” she wrote.

After Mr Rhodes reportedly grew frustrated that Mr Trump did not invoke the Insurrection Act and call on the Oath Keepers to use violence against his political enemies, while Congress reconvened to rightfully certify the election results, Mr Rhodes allegedly wrote to the group: “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Defendant Ed Vallejo allegedly called the Olive Garden at 9pm that night.

According to court filings, a person who reportedly unwittingly accompanied Mr Vallejo on a cross-country trip to Washington DC with a stash of weapons met with Mr Rhodes and several others at the restaurant on 6 January.

That person claimed that they could not remember much about the restaurant other than that it was a “far drive away” and that the server was “being a pain about wearing masks.”

The following morning, Mr Vallejo allegedly told the group that “I got s*** needs doin’ but none more important than this,” referring to the ongoing attempt to reject Joe Biden’s presidency.

“We are at WAR,” he added.