U.S. president Donald Trump (L) looks on as Matt Rosendale (R) speaks during a campaign rally at Four Seasons Arena on July 5, 2018 in Great Falls, Montana. President Trump held a campaign style ‘Make America Great Again’ rally in Great Falls, Montana with thousands in attendance. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Congressman Matthew Rosendale said on Friday he was not aware of the seditious conspiracy charges filed one day earlier against the founder of the anti-government group Oath Keepers and former Montana resident Stewart Rhodes for his involvement in the Jan.6, 2021, insurrection.
In 2014, Rosendale spoke at a pro-Second Amendment Oath Keepers rally in Kalispell. At the time, he told NBC Montana his focus was on supporting the Second Amendment, and he was in no way connected to the Oath Keepers.
The seditious conspiracy charges filed Thursday against Rhodes and 11 other Oath Keeper members are the most serious brought forth in the investigation by the Justice Department that has charged more than 700 people with federal crimes for their involvement in the riot.
The indictment alleges that Rhodes, 56, and his various co-conspirators made plans to bring weapons to the January 6 riot and spent weeks conspiring to overturn the 2020 U.S. presidential election results.
“The purpose of the conspiracy was to oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force, by preventing, hindering, or delaying by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of power,” the indictment reads.
When asked Friday about the charges, Rosendale said that he was unaware of them.
“Didn’t see it, doesn’t impact me,” Rosendale said when reached at the Montana State Capitol where he was speaking at an anti-abortion rally.
Rosendale was among the House Republicans to vote against certifying the election results from Arizona and Pennsylvania after the January 6 riot.
“I will not be intimidated by mob violence from the left or the right. I will oppose certification of electors from certain disputed states,” Rosendale said in a statement at the time.
Later the same month, Rosendale was asked by NBC Montana if he had any connection to the Oath Keepers. He responded: “I have zero connection to Oath Keepers, and an event that I spoke at in 2014 was in Kalispell, and it was for the Second Amendment — to support the Second Amendment. I don’t have any affiliation with them, I have no communication with them, but I do support the Second Amendment.”
#mtpol Rep. Rosendale consorts with The Oath Keepers, but his vote not to establish a commission to investigate the 6-Jan pro-Trump assault on our nation's Capitol that killed five is not consistent with his oath to uphold the Constitution. https://t.co/hNbpEAMWNe pic.twitter.com/GVU1lqiVKb
— James Conner (@jrcflatheadmemo) May 20, 2021
While he did not outright denounce the group in the 2021 interview with NBC Montana, he said he absolutely denounces anyone who participated in that attack.
Doubters of the Department of Justice’s investigation have used the lack of charges like treason, sedition and insurrection to question the seriousness of the January 6 riot. Earlier this year, a spokesperson for Rosendale told KTVH that the U.S. House investigation of the January 6 riot and its causes is a “partisan witch hunt.”
Rosendale did not respond directly when asked Friday if his views on the investigation have changed with the filing of more serious charges. He said the question was “completely irrelevant to the people of Montana,” and he declined to answer further questions.
Rosendale’s office did not respond to a subsequent email from the Daily Montanan asking if his view of the group has shifted given the conspiracy charges.
The indictment alleges that on November 7, 2020, Rhodes sent an encrypted message to the Oath Keepers conspiring to overturn the election results: “We must now do what the people of Serbia did when Milosevic stole their election. – Refuse to accept it and march en-masse on the nation’s Capitol.”
As part of their effort, prosecutors allege that Rhodes and the other defendants “coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington, D.C., equipped themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were prepared to answer Rhodes’s call to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction.”
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