Former Navy Reservist Says He Acted ‘Like a Traitor’ on Jan. 6

(Bloomberg) -- A former Navy reservist who stormed the US Capitol with members of the Oath Keepers on Jan. 6, 2021, testified that they had an “implicit” agreement to stop Joe Biden from becoming president.

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There were suggestions in chat messages between members of the right-wing militia that the group would act to stop what it viewed as a fraudulent election when the opportunity arose, said Graydon Young, who testified for the government Monday during a seditious conspiracy trial. “I was acting like a traitor,” said Young, in describing his actions against elements of the government he viewed as corrupt.

Young is the second Oath Keepers who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to take the stand. Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers and four others face various charges, including seditious conspiracy, which is the most serious one to come out of the government’s investigation into the Jan. 6 events.

The government must prove there was an agreement between two or more people in order to win a conviction for conspiracy. Young’s testimony Tuesday was intended to support the claim the Oath Keepers had formed an agreement to prevent Congress from transferring power to then president-elect Biden.

On cross-examination, Young admitted that no one explicitly discussed plans to commit a crime. He also said that nobody gave him instructions to enter the Capitol building and that he followed the crowd.

“It was spontaneous,” he said.

Read more: Oath Keepers Threatened a ‘Bloody Civil War’ Over Biden Victory

Earlier, Rhodes had sought to subpoena the communications of the six Oath Keepers who pleaded guilty to try to prove they did so under pressure from prosecutors.

Young told the jury that his view of a corrupt government was influenced by social media and former President Donald Trump’s lawyers. At one point Young started choking up on the stand and said he was ashamed by his actions.

Young said he found himself spending two to six hours a day on YouTube and Facebook in 2020, having too much free time after leaving a software development job because of neck and back pain. That started to “cloud his judgment,” he said.

“There was a lot of information that was motivational for people on the right to be upset about the fraud,” he said, referring to the 2020 election. “I got really ginned up.”

Young said he firmly believed Biden’s win was fraudulent and that the government had been corrupted.

“I listened to what Trump’s attorneys were saying,” Young said. He said he remembered Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s lawyers, discussed how voting machines had been tampered with by foreign powers -- a claim that had been disproved.

Young said his sister suggested he join the Oath Keepers and he did so because protests seemed ineffective.

In December 2020, he wrote on an Oath Keepers chat that it felt like a “fool’s errand” to go to Washington for the Jan. 6 rally. But a message from Rhodes convinced him the trip might be worth it. Rhodes wrote that it was not a “fool’s errand” and that Trump needed to know that the group supported him in invoking a law that gave him the authority to call in armed militias. Rhodes also noted that the group would act with or without Trump.

“After reading that, I was re-galvanized to go,” Young said.

He said he went to Washington with other Oath Keepers to provide security at the Ellipse rally. When the group found out the Capitol had been breached, Young described it as a “Bastille-type” moment in reference to the early days of the French Revolution when a crowd stormed a royal prison that symbolized tyranny.

He testified that he and other Oath Keepers followed the crowd into the Capitol building to stop the electoral process.

“We were all energized and wanted to participate in whatever was going on,” he said.

The case is US v. Rhodes, 1:22-cr-00015, US District Court, District of Columbia (Washington.)

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