WASHINGTON—A military veteran testified at the Oath Keepers trial on Nov. 2 that he attempted to get a message from Stewart Rhodes to then-president Donald Trump after Jan. 6, 2021, but changed his mind.
Jason Alpers currently owns a software development company and served over six years in psychological operations in the military. A former colleague with whom he was working in January 2021 at a security company called Allied Special Operations Group told him that Rhodes wanted to meet him.
Alpers told the court that he had indirect connections with President Donald Trump at that time. Alpers agreed to meet with Rhodes on Jan. 10, 2021, in the parking lot at Fry’s, an electronics store.
He intended to deliver Rhode’s message to Trump’s intermediaries. However, he brought a tape recorder to record the meeting secretly. “I was using it for my own protection,” he said.
At the meeting, Alpers told Rhodes that Trump would not invoke the Insurrection Act. Rhodes responded that if Trump does not act, “It [Trump’s family] might be in prison—could be raped and shanked in prison—but they’ll still wind up dead. That’s the reality. And not just them, it’s all of us too.”
“Most people don’t have a clue what war is like,” Alpers told Rhodes. “I’ve been to war multiple times.” He continued, “I can tell you right now I don’t wish civil war upon anyone.”
Rhodes told him that war was going to come anyway.
After the conversation, Alpers gave his phone to Rhodes to type a message for Trump (pdf).
In the message, Rhodes urged Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, called the incoming Biden administration illegitimate, and warned that Trump’s family would be persecuted if he handed the presidency to Joe Biden.
Alpers told David Fischer, a defense lawyer, that he previously used the tape recording device. Fischer questioned how Alpers trusted handing his phone to Rhodes to write the message since it was the first time they had met.
“I wanted to make sure the message was clear and accurate since a lot of things were going on around us,” Alpers said.
Alpers testified he chose not to share the message with his alleged Trump intermediary because he thought the message was not very objective, and doing so would imply that he agreed with it, which he did not.
During cross-examination with defense attorney Philip Linder, Alpers said he turned the taped conversation over to the FBI months after the meeting with Rhodes happened because he didn’t want to get involved.
“What prompted you to get involved?” Linder asked, but the government objected to the question. The judge sustained the objection, and Alpers didn’t answer the question.
Linder questioned if he had read Rhodes’ open letters to Trump on the internet, saying that the message Rhodes wrote in Alpers’ notes for Trump was very similar to the letters. Alpers denied ever reading the letters.
Alpers denied that anyone instructed him to secretly tape the meeting with Rhodes or have him write a message on his phone. He also denied working for any federal agency and said the indirect connection to Trump wasn’t from an intelligence agency.
Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell have been charged with seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, conspiracy to prevent an officer from carrying out any duties, destruction of government property, civil disorder, and tampering with documents.