WASHINGTON — A member of the Oath Keepers who took an AR-15-to a Virginia hotel on the eve of the Jan. 6 riot described entering a room filled with a large stash of weapons in a seditious conspiracy trial Wednesday.
The Oath Keepers member, Terry Cummings, testified that "a lot of firearms cases" were in the hotel room when he dropped off his weapon at a Comfort Inn in Arlington, Virginia, on Jan. 5, 2021.
“I had not seen that many weapons in one location since I was in the military,” Cummings said.
Prosecutors allege that the stockpile — which they have called a "quick reaction force," or "QRF" — had been staged as part of a plan to oppose the peaceful transfer of power.
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes is on trial accused of seditious conspiracy alongside four other Oath Keepers associates: Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell. Other members alleged to be part of the conspiracy will go on trial in November.
Rhodes had urged President Donald Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and called upon members of the Oath Keepers to help stop the peaceful transfer of power.
After Jan. 6, Rhodes said he regretted not having brought weapons into Washington on the day of the riot, federal prosecutors said. Another Oath Keeper previously told the court that Rhodes tried unsuccessfully to reach Trump on the night of Jan. 6.
Cummings, a veteran of the Air National Guard who testified under a subpoena, said that he did not hear any talk about storming the Capitol and that he believed he would use his weapon only as a defense measure. He said he was aware of the strict gun laws in Washington and saw no Oath Keepers carrying guns in the city the day of the riot.
Cummings, who claims he joined the Oath Keepers in 2020 because he was concerned about riots around the country and “attacks by Antifa,” said he decided to come go to Washington on Jan. 6 because “it was an opportunity" to express his First Amendment rights.
“I personally didn’t think it was a good idea to enter," he said.
Cummings recalled that he started his day on Jan. 6 providing security for unnamed VIPs at the Trump rally at the Ellipse, which preceded the riot. He said he and other members of the Oath Keepers had VIP passes to the rally and had to go through Secret Service security lines to get about 20 yards away from the stage.
John Zimmerman, a former member of the Oath Keepers, testified last week that Rhodes had told him he had a contact in the Secret Service and that he heard Rhodes speaking with someone he believed to be a Secret Service agent a few months before the Capitol riot.
Cummings testified that he and some other Oath Keepers left the rally before Trump finished speaking because they were called to escort an unnamed Hispanic female VIP toward the Capitol. While the group of about 10 people were escorting the woman, Cummings said, he heard from Meggs that the Capitol had been breached, and the group decided to leave the woman with an Oath Keepers guard and proceeded to the Capitol.
After they arrived on Capitol grounds, Cummings said, he had to use the bathroom and became separated from the group. He said he learned after he met back up with the group that they had entered the Capitol building while they were separated.
Under cross-examination, Cummings said multiple times that he never heard of any plans for the Oath Keepers to enter the Capitol. “There were no conversations concerning storming the Capitol,” he said.
He also testified that he had contributed to online donation accounts for Harrelson and Meggs.