Kellye SoRelle: Oath Keeper Capper or Potential Pivot?

The government arrested Kellye SoRelle yesterday via an indictment charging three counts of obstruction and one count of trespassing. She’s best known as the lawyer for the Oath Keepers, though for a period she was acting as the President of the militia.

That she was arrested was not surprising. It has been known for some time that she’s the person who advised Rhodes to start deleting evidence of his activities on January 6, which he and others did. She even admitted it to MoJo’s Dan Friedman. Those who did delete their comms have all been charged for deleting evidence. The government even included that in Joshua James’ statement of offense, who is now cooperating with the government.

On January 8, 2021, James received a Signal message, in a group chat that included Rhodes, from an individual he understood to be an attorney for the Oath Keepers that stated, “STEWART: YOU ALL NEED TO DELETE ANY OF YOUR COMMENTS REGARDING WHO DID WHAT. You are under zero obligation to leave them up. You/we have not yet gotten a preservation order instructing us to retain those chat comments. So DELETE THEM. I can’t delete them because this is a legacy Signal chat that doesn’t let me delete comments. Only the comment author can delete a comment. So GET BUSY. DELETE your self-incriminating comments or those that can incriminate others. Start now …”

So it’s unsurprising that she was also charged under 18 USC 1512(b)(2) for corruptly persuading and attempting to corruptly persuade others to delete evidence.

On its face, the indictment against SoRelle is all about capping off the Oath Keeper conspiracy. Her arrest warrant lists the two conspiracies, 22-cr-15 (the Rhodes seditious conspiracy) and 21-cr-28 (the lesser conspiracy now named after Donovan Crowl), as related cases, landing her case before Judge Amit Mehta. All seven of the Oath Keeper prosecutors were listed on the motion to seal her arrest warrant.

At that level, charging her seems like a way to ensure defendants in the sedition trial cannot foist all the blame for deleting those communications off on an uncharged co-conspirator.  In fact, Gateway Pundit, which has invented some of the central conspiracy theories about this case (including one spun directly by SoRelle), yesterday complained that DOJ only charged SoRelle because she recently agreed to testify in Rhodes’ defense.

Gateway Pundit’s earlier conspiracy theory, based on claims made by another cooperating Oath Keeper witness, Jason Dolan, appears to be one of the ways prosecutors managed to argue that her communications were not privileged.

As such, much of this indictment is about capping off the Oath Keeper case. But there are a few details that I find interesting.

First, unlike Michael Greene (the field commander for the Oath Keepers the day of the attack), who was superseded into the Crowl (lesser) conspiracy case on June 22, SoRelle was charged via indictment with conspiracy by herself. By comparison, when DOJ spun Jonathan Walden off onto his own indictment, the conspiracy charge against him was dropped.

Perhaps DOJ treated her this way because she mostly just interacted with Rhodes on January 6, but since she didn’t do anything meriting a sedition charge, she was charged by herself?

But there are other details that make me wonder whether DOJ isn’t doing something more by charging her.

SoRelle was charged by the same grand jury that did the bulk of the investigative work against all January 6 attackers for all of 2021, but which focused especially on the Oath Keepers. Its work seemed to culminate in January with the seditious conspiracy indictment. Since then, its main public work was to supersede Greene into the lesser conspiracy, 17 months after it was convened, as well as supserseding the Rhodes indictment to tweak how sedition was charged, also in that 17th month.

But the indictment against SoRelle means that grand jury is still at work in the 19th month after it was convened. Grand juries are usually convened for 18 months, so this seems to suggest the Oath Keeper grand jury has been extended, and extended (thus far) solely to charge someone whose phone the government seized last September.

Meanwhile, SoRelle’s indictment seems to have been initialed by Jocelyn Ballantine.

Up until now, Ballantine was known only to have a (behind-the-scenes) role in managing the Proud Boys investigation, which is not only less orderly than the Oath Keepers investigation, but seems to be understaffed, particularly as compared to the consistent 7-person team that has relentlessly pursued the Oath Keepers.

One reason you might charge SoRelle, by herself, on a conspiracy indictment is to add others to it. And while she’s best known for her role with the Oath Keepers and this indictment is closely tied to the Oath Keepers prong of the investigation, she actually has a number of ties to other key players in January 6.

She was present at the January 4, 2021 parking garage meeting between Rhodes and Enrique Tarrio, for example. She would have been a key facilitator for it. At the time, she was serving as the lawyer for both the Oath Keepers and Latinos for Trump. (It was via Tarrio’s involvement in Latinos for Trump that he went on December tour of the White House, arranged by Bianca Gracia, who was also at that garage meeting.)

As Ryan Reilly noted yesterday, SoRelle was also a volunteer for Lawyers for Trump, and in that guise, Rhodes tried to get her to put him in touch with people in Trump’s orbit. SoRelle claims that she declined to do that.

In the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes tried to get the organization’s general counsel, Kellye SoRelle, to put him in touch with the White House, she told NBC News.

In addition to her work with the Oath Keepers, SoRelle was a volunteer for Lawyers for Trump during the 2020 election and was in contact with many of the people fighting a doomed legal battle to try to overturn the 2020 presidential election and keep former President Donald Trump in office. The contacts include, she said, people in Rudy Giuliani’s and Sidney Powell’s camps, as well as those inside the administration, although she added that she “wasn’t, like, communicating with Trump directly.”

Rhodes wanted her to put him in touch with the White House. “He was hitting me up for a contact,” said SoRelle, a family law lawyer who previously ran for the Texas state House. “He didn’t have any access points.”

As he prepared an open letter calling on Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021, Rhodes asked SoRelle to send it to the White House. She says she declined.

SoRelle has been caught making false claims to the press before.

Finally, in the clip of SoRelle’s testimony to the January 6 Committee that has been made public, she described how Roger Stone, Alex Jones, and Ali Alexander took the lead on planning the Stop the Steal events.

JAMIE RASKIN: Kelly Sorrell, a lawyer who assists the Oath Keepers and a volunteer lawyer for the Trump campaign, explained to the committee how Roger Stone and other figures brought extremists of different stripes and views together. [Begin videotape]

UNKNOWN: You mentioned that Mr. Stone wanted to start the Stop the Steal series of rallies. Who did you consider the leader of these rallies? It sounds like from what you just said, it was Mr. Stone, Mr. Jones, and Mr. Ali Alexander. Is that correct?

KELLY SORRELL: Those are the ones that became like the — the center point for everything. [End videotape]

In other words, while SoRelle didn’t breach the Capitol in body armor like the rest of the Oath Keepers, she was (along with Roger Stone) one of the key pivots between the Oath Keepers and the rest of the organizing effort behind January 6. She was networked with other planners in a way that even Rhodes was not.

For over a year, I’ve been describing that the elegant thing about the obstruction conspiracy charges DOJ has used to charge the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and others, is those separate conspiracies might one day start to coalesce via the nodes between them. Kellye SoRelle has, by all appearances, been charged in a conspiracy with the Oath Keepers.But if she also conspired on other aspects of January 6 with other people and organizations, including White House lawyers, then the various existing conspiracies might network into a larger conspiracy.

The lead prosecutor on SoRelle’s case, incidentally, also happens to be the lead prosecutor on Owen Shroyer’s prosecution.

Update: Corrected that SoRelle stepped down as President when Rhodes was arrested.

22 replies
  1. J R in WV says:

    Love how you bring these deranged conspirators together so delicately one after the other.

    Thanks for all the hard work!

  2. Amers says:

    If she were also involved with fake electors scheme would that be a part of this indictment, or would that be dealt with at a state level?

    • Rayne says:

      SoRelle and another insurance company attorney-LoTR loving-insurrectionist Paul Davis filed a suit on January 18, 2021 against everybody and their brother for violating the Help America Vote Act, demanding the 2020 election results be overturned, but to the best of my knowledge SoRelle isn’t linked directly to the false electors schema any more than the Oath Keepers were linked to the organization of false electors and their subsequent false election certifications. AFAIK these were separate subset conspiracies operating in parallel beneath the overarching effort to overturn the election and keep Trump in office.

      The false electors schema is still being investigated by the DOJ. It remains to be seen how that will be addressed since the states have handed off to the feds (for now), though I’m aware both Fulton County GA and MI’s AG have electors targeted.

      • wetzel says:

        In these different parts of the conspiracy, right wing organizations across the country participated simultaneously. Thousands ultimately are likely criminally culpable. A fascist political formation came to consciousness of its willingness to be an instrument. Compliance had spread through vertical and horizontal forms of influence. ‘Capper’ or ‘potential pivot’ are great descriptors of the mechanistic action.

        How do the behaviors of someone like Kellye Sorrelle fit in within the ‘greater’ conspiracy. All its parts were moving forward. She intersects with both of the militias and the lawyers. Her story might be a place we can see the the nodes managing compliance down the transmission chain within those two groups. We will never figure this out. Evidence will be presented and convictions will occur. Maybe Kellye Sorrelle won’t figure it out either.

        The delusional fields of reference, paranoias and violent animus for GOP politicians these days it must be like imprisonment in a cult. People might imagine they will be free when Trump is gone, but the GOP has demonstrated it can be used as a fascist instrument now. We don’t know what to do about it. Sad! But fascism is here. Who are the pigs that want to be ‘more equal than others’? Where are the mechanisms of control? Our paranoia is not a mirror of theirs because ours is based on a body of evidence presented in open court.

        This is off-topic but Newt Gingrich got served his subpoena yesterday by the Jan 6 committee. Here is old Newt in January 2022 threatening to throw the Jan 6 committee in jail. Check him out from eight months ago. At the time, Newt was upset Lisa Monaco had made it known DOJ was looking into the fake elector scandal.

      • Zinsky says:

        This morning’s on-line edition of Raw Story has an article by Jordan Green that suggests SoRelle may have connections to some of the fake electors through her connections to the election denier network. Not sure where that supposition came from. The article also talks about a tweet SoRelle made implicating Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell and Overstock dude Patrick Byrne in funding and pushing forward the Big Lie. Perhaps a superseding indictment, drawing Byrne, Flynn, Powell and Oath Keepers leadership into one big indictment? Great work by both Marcy and Rayne on running down the myriad threads of this investigation!

    • harpie says:

      Alex JONES, who is with SHROYER and ALEXANDER, speaks at 1:31 PM about a phone call or text or other message he had just received:

      [1:03] 1:31 PM [Freedom Plaza]

      JONES: They just breached the Capitol.
      SHROYER: “Who?”
      JONES: That’s provocateurs doing that. I guarantee you!
      ALEXANDER: And they’re older. They’re fighting Capitol police right now.
      SHROYER: It’s only…
      ALEXANDER: …shit of your dreams
      JONES: We gotta call this right, absolutely I’d like to go to the Capitol. [1:16] What do ya think?

      Alex JONES MOVIE [breakdown]:

    • harpie says:

      So, to consolidate the above:

      1:30 PM [approx] [Per DOJ] Oath Keepers affiliates on Leadership Intel Chat post messages about police officers deploying pepper spray at the Capitol and questioned what the rioters hoped would happen if they got inside the Capitol.


      [Possibly] SORRELLE: “We are acting like the founding fathers – can’t stand down. Per Stewart and I concur[.]”

      RHODES: “Hey, the founding generation stormed the governor’s mansion in MA and tarred and feathered his tax collectors. And they seized and dumped tea water. They didn’t fire on them, but they street fought. That’s where we are now. Next comes our “Lexington” It’s coming.”

      1:31 PM JONES receives message and discusses with SHROYER and ALEXANDER [see above]

      1:34 PM REHL to the same “four other contacts”

      “We’re at a standstill, cops are dropping concussion bombs and pepper spraying, people are pepper spraying back and fighting riot cops.”

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        harpie, this intersects with former-NYPD officer Thompson, who today received longest J6 sentence so far for his violent involvement with that same initial pepper-spray (and other weapons) event. He claimed to have been “radicalized” online, but when you’re stabbing police in the eye with a handy spear such claims sound as thin as the January sunlight.

  3. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Marcy Wheeler and her gang involved in their own Stop the Steal Movement. They are stopping Stone and his gang from stealing America’s faith and hope in Democracy. Bravo !

    • Retired guy says:

      As I read the reports, Tarrio is only dropping his lawyers in the civil suits against him, others, and the former president. Several other civil defendants on these cases have done the same, including Jessica Watkins, as I recall.

      IANAL, but these look like rational money decisions. As long as the former president is not severed from these lawsuits, he will credibly mount defense/delay tactics that may benefit the other co-defendants in the civil suits. By the time these suits get to trial Tarrio, Watkins, and several others will already be indigent (if not in prison), and will use their pro se trial conduct to say what they want to say, as happened in the Charlottesville organizers and leaders civil trial. If these suits go to trial, one of the goals is to punish wealthy co-defendants, and destroy the two national organizations, PB and OK, and any of their benefactors.

  4. Savage Librarian says:

    Some info about Lawyers for Trump, if you can stomach it:

    “RNLA Leadership Spearheads Lawyers for Trump” – Elizabeth Bradford El-Rassy, July 23, 2020

    “Leading the ‘Lawyers for Trump’ coalition as co-chairs are: Co-Chair Attorney General Ken Paxton (TX), Co-Chair Attorney General Leslie Rutledge (AR), Co-Chair Committeewoman Harmeet Dhillon (CA), and Co-Chair Former Deputy White House Counsel Stefan Passantino.”

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      Harmeet Dhillon is an especially unpleasant piece of goods. I think she has been positioning herself to try to run for Governor of California, though she is yet to have a successful campaign for other state wide positions.

      She is a Fed Soc member and filed numerous lawsuits against the State over Covid restrictions and mask mandates. She is a serious drinker of the Kool-Aid from the RNC and Trump.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        This whole bunch meant trouble, and compared to other MAGA efforts they managed to keep their efforts relatively under wraps. I’m surprised this boys’ club of low-rent snobs would even let Kellye Sorelle use their imprint, frankly.

  5. Retired guy says:

    Thanks, Dr. Wheeler for putting some working nomenclature on my vague notions about this filing. I suspect the question about what conspiracy and which co-conspirators will remain mysterious until a Statement of Fact affidavit is unsealed.

    Speculating, this SOF would remain sealed, pending arrests of other co-conspirators, and one or more superseding indictments, where sedition could be added. This could be the start of the prosecution (pivot) of a next level of the seditious conspiracy.

  6. PostToaster says:

    These detailed, spot-on analyses, one after another, are amazing. I wish the DOJ had you on their team. One typo: it’s “Oaf Kreepers”. Thank you so much.

  7. Ginevra diBenci says:

    Thank you once again, Dr. Wheeler. I truly don’t know how you do it. This post will prove invaluable as a historical marker in this long and winding investigation.

  8. Pacific says:

    Interestingly, since SoRelle was indicted on Thursday, she (a potential pivot?) is pointing to Flynn, Byrne, and Powell as the “the real perpetrators.” She stated: “Good luck y’all. They won’t stop with me.”
    Raw Story reports:
    “In a direct message to Raw Story on Twitter, SoRelle pointed the finger at three high-profile
    Trump allies: retired Lt. General Flynn, attorney Sidney Powell and retired CEO
    Patrick Byrne. Powell filed multiple lawsuits seeking to overturn the election, while Flynn rallied
    Trump supporters at protests and media appearances, and Byrne covered travel and lodging
    costs for a wide array of volunteer researchers and analysts seeking to reverse the election.

    Only thing I have to say, I hope they get the real perpetrators — Flynn, Byrne, Powell etc.,
    those behind the Big Lie that set up the conservatives, SoRelle told Raw Story.”


  9. obsessed says:

    Two items I’m confused about:

    1. When SoRelle told the others to delete their communications because they hadn’t yet received an order to preserve, was she lying, or was it illegal to delete even before received the order to preserve? How does that work? When does deleting one’s posts become criminal?

    2. The Raw Story article was very confusing. SoRelle used the term “big lie” and was hostile towards Powell, Flynn, Byrne et al. Is she paving the way to flip? Or has she has a come to Jesus moment and actually realized that the election wasn’t stolen and the whole thing was a scam that she’d fallen for??

Comments are closed.