Jason Dolan, a former member of the extremist group the Oath Keepers, testified Tuesday that he was prepared to take up arms to keep former President Donald Trump in office as members of a far-right mob stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Dolan, a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps, pleaded guilty to one federal count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction of an official proceeding in September. He agreed to cooperate fully with prosecutors and testified Tuesday as part of an ongoing seditious conspiracy trial of five members of the Oath Keepers.
The group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, is among those on trial.
“I was watching a lot of videos about the election. At the time I felt like the election had been stolen,” Dolan, 46, testified, according to NBC News.
He joined the Oath Keepers, a far-right group largely made up of retired military members and law enforcement.
“It felt like within the group I was with … that there was a core group that would be willing to fight,” he testified later, adding he felt he needed to be willing to “conquer or die” and “take up arms and fight back” to defend Trump’s presidency.
Part of that plan included members of the group stashing weapons in hotel rooms in nearby Virginia in preparation for any conflict between those defending Trump or then-President-elect Joe Biden, Dolan testified.
“That’s why we brought our firearms,” he said.
Dolan added he took firearms to Washington, D.C., in the days before the Jan. 6 attack. Prosecutors displayed two weapons, a rifle Dolan built and a pistol.
“I have to be mentally prepared for however far I’m willing to go to stand for America, for the Constitution, for the President & for the survival of our ideals,” he wrote in a chat on Signal before the insurrection, per Law & Crime. “[I]f I’m lucky I get a prison sentence, tagged with treason, or a bullet from the very people I would protect. Yet I swore to defend this country against all enemies foreign & domestic.”
His testimony was the first time a cooperating witness shared an account of being in the pro-Trump mob and the first time a jury heard evidence the Oath Keepers directly sought to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College results on Jan. 6.
Dolan’s federal sentencing guidelines range between five and seven years, although he could receive some leniency as part of his plea deal with the government.
Prosecutors have recently laid out the case against Rhodes and his subordinates. On Monday, they said Rhodes and other Oath Keepers went on a cross-country spree buying up to $20,000 in weapons in the days before the Jan. 6 attack.
They haven’t yet said what Rhodes did with the weaponry, but his creation of an armed “quick reaction force” in the lead-up to the insurrection has become a central point in prosecutors’ seditious conspiracy case.
Attorneys for Rhodes and the other Oath Keepers have argued the quick reaction group was meant to be used if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act, but not as an offensive force at the Capitol.