A high-ranking member of the far-right Oath Keepers organization who has been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol exchanged messages in November 2020 with former Trump White House aide Andrew Giuliani about election issues, NBC News has learned.
That same Oath Keeper member, Kellye SoRelle, also tried to text a White House number on Dec. 20, according to a new book from Denver Riggleman, a former Republican congressman from Virginia, and journalist Hunter Walker. That text message went to a White House switchboard line, so it could not be delivered.
Riggleman, who lost renomination for his congressional seat after expressing opposition to then-President Donald Trump in 2020, joined the Jan. 6 committee after leaving office. He served as a staffer for the committee from August 2021 to April.
Riggleman told NBC News that he had divulged details of the text messages in his book so that “reporters would follow up on some of the crucial evidence that had not been made public.” NBC News has seen a copy of the book, which will be published Tuesday.
SoRelle, who was also a volunteer for Lawyers for Trump, a coalition of lawyers that was put together ahead of the 2020 election, told NBC News that she was in touch with Giuliani, who was a White House public liaison assistant during the Trump administration. He is also the son of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was previously a lawyer for Trump.
SoRelle said she only recalled being in touch with Andrew Giuliani in November 2020 but said that she could not check because the FBI seized her phone in September 2021. She also confirmed her December attempt to text a White House contact.
Andrew Giuliani, who subsequently ran an unsuccessful campaign for New York governor, was on leave from the White House to work on elections issues in late 2020 before departing the government on Jan. 20, 2021, when Joe Biden was sworn in as president. Andrew Giuliani told NBC News that the last contact with SoRelle on his phone was on Nov. 10, 2020.
“Until you mentioned her, until I looked it up, it didn’t really ring a bell,” Giuliani said. He declined to comment on whether the Jan. 6 committee had asked him about his contact with SoRelle.
The revelation of the text messages adds to a growing web of links between people close to former President Donald Trump and his advisers and fringe groups charged in connection with the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and several other members are set to go on trial this week in a seditious conspiracy case that is anticipated to last six weeks.
SoRelle said that the text messages were focused on election fraud and did not touch on Jan. 6.
“None of that was like ‘Hey, we should go storm the Capitol,’” SoRelle told NBC News. “It was like ‘We have this affidavit,’ or whatever.”
SoRelle, who was on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol with Rhodes on Jan. 6, was recently charged with four counts in connection with the Capitol attack: conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, obstruction of justice, and misdemeanor entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds. SoRelle pleaded not guilty to all charges at her arraignment earlier this month.
SoRelle’s attempted text message to the White House switchboard on Dec. 20 came in between two open letters the Oath Keepers wrote for Trump: a Dec. 14, 2020, letter that said millions of Americans were ready to “answer your call” if he invoked the Insurrection Act, and a Dec. 23, 2020, letter that said there would be supporters with “mission critical gear” stationed outside of D.C. and ready to respond if Trump called upon the militia for assistance. Federal prosecutors have charged that the Oath Keepers set up “quick reaction forces” — or QRFs — with guns outside of D.C.
Several Oath Keepers have already pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy, one of whom told a judge that he was in a hotel room with Rhodes on the night of Jan. 6 as Rhodes, while on the phone with a Trump intermediary, requested to speak with Trump and implored the person on the phone “to tell President Trump to call upon groups like the Oath Keepers to forcibly oppose a transfer of power.”
SoRelle previously told NBC News that Rhodes had asked for her contacts close to Trump in the lead-up to Jan. 6, but that she declined. SoRelle has said she would not testify at the Oath Keeper trial because, she said, “You don’t give the DOJ free shots at your ass.”
Riggleman told NBC News, “I wish I could say I was surprised” by the links between Giuliani and the Oath Keepers leader.
“The phone data my team compiled makes clear the militant aspect of the Capitol attack and high-level associates of the former president were inextricably linked together,” Riggleman said. “It is so important for the American people to be aware of the direct links between the Trump White House and militant groups including this newfound connection between Kellye Sorelle and a former White House aide.”
A representative for the Jan. 6 committee declined to comment on the connection between Giuliani and SoRelle. The panel will hold its next public hearing on Wednesday, the second day of jury selection in the Oath Keeper's trial.