Members of the Oath Keepers allegedly inside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in Justice Department photo. Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes III testified Friday in his seditious conspiracy trial, defending his right-wing-militia. From the stand he claimed the 2020 presidential election was unconstitutional. Photo by Wikimedia Commons
Nov. 4 (UPI) -- Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes III defended the actions of his right-wing militia as he testified Friday during his seditious conspiracy criminal trial.
Rhodes claimed President Biden's lawful certification as the winner of the election was "invalid" as he sought to justify the group's actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the U.S. Capitol.
"You really can't have a winner of an unconstitutional election," Rhodes testified.
He claimed under questioning from his defense attorney that the organization's post-election actions have been mischaracterized. He will continue testifying in his own defense Monday.
Rhodes and 10 other members of the Oath Keepers right-wing militia are charged with conspiring to physically stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power and obstructing an official proceeding. They came to support the pro-Trump violent mob of insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol.
In a recording of Rhodes made Jan. 10, 2021, he said, "We should have brought rifles. We could have fixed it right then and there."
He also said he would "hang" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "from the lamppost."
The indictment alleged that the defendants, organized into teams wearing military gear, breached and attempted to take control of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
According to government evidence in legal filings, the Oath Keepers were prepared to use force against Congress and they brought guns and ammunition stashed for possible use in Virginia near Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday the Department of Justice played recordings of Rhodes encouraging members of the group.
"We're not getting out of this without a fight. There's going to be a fight," Rhodes said in the recordings. "But let's just do it smart and let's do it while President Trump is still commander in chief."
As the capitol was overrun by a violent mob on Jan. 6, lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence fled for their lives. Certification of the 2020 presidential election was delayed by the violence.
Two Oath Keepers members have pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding.