WASHINGTON — A member of the far-right Oath Keepers who stormed the U.S. Capitol testified that he was ready to fight to keep President Donald Trump in office and was preparing himself in the weeks before Jan. 6, 2021, to say goodbye to his family, he testified in a seditious conspiracy trial Tuesday.
Jason Dolan, 46, a military veteran, pleaded guilty to a count of conspiracy and a count of obstruction of an official proceeding in September and testified in the trial of five other members of the extremist group under a cooperation agreement with the government.
Other cooperating defendants are also expected to testify in the trial. Dolan has not pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy; three other Oath Keepers have.
Dolan testified Tuesday that before the Jan. 6 attack, he was drinking — often alone and in his garage — and getting sucked into online conspiracy theories. "I was watching a lot of videos about the election. At the time I felt like the election had been stolen," he said.
Dolan said he was trying to "mentally prepare" at the time for how far he was willing to go to keep Trump in office for a second term.
In December 2020 text messages the government displayed Tuesday, Dolan wrote that there was "no coming back" from what he was prepared to do and that he would be "lucky" if he got "a prison sentence, tagged with treason, or a bullet" as a result of his actions.
"I think my biggest trouble is trying to convince myself to say good bye to my family, after all they had to endure, with the likelihood of never seeing them again," Dolan wrote in the message to other Florida Oath Keepers.
Testifying on Tuesday, Dolan said that he was not just bloviating.
"I meant it literally," Dolan said, adding that he was asking himself, "Is this all just going to be talk, or am I willing to back up my words with actions?"
Dolan testified that he was "pretty pissed" when he heard that Joe Biden had won the election, and he said it "didn’t seem possible" that Trump would lose.
"As one person, it’s not something that you can do by yourself. You need a group. You need a lot of people," he testified.
"It felt like within the group I was with … that there was a core group that would be willing to fight," Dolan said, referring to the Florida members of the Oath Keepers organization.
Echoing language used by Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, Dolan said he felt he needed to be willing to "conquer or die" and, if need be, "take up arms and fight back" on Trump's behalf.
Five members of the Oath Keepers, including Rhodes, are on trial on charges of seditious conspiracy. Rhodes has said the "quick reaction force," or QRF, and the stockpile of guns the group set up outside Washington, D.C., would have been brought in only if Trump invoked the Insurrection Act and called on groups like the Oath Keepers.
Dolan said he thought that Trump would stop the certification of Biden's victory by invoking the Insurrection Act and that the Oath Keepers would have to do it themselves if Trump didn't.
"I didn’t really go and look into the legalities of the Insurrection Act," Dolan said. He added that he was anticipating "government on government" fighting and was willing to oppose the incoming Biden administration "by any means necessary."
"That’s why we brought our firearms," Dolan said.
The government introduced photos of Dolan entering the Capitol, and Dolan testified that he was chanting “treason!” along with other members of the pro-Trump mob.
“I wanted them to be afraid of me,” he said of members of Congress in the building that day. “If they weren’t going to, in my perspective, do the right thing, maybe they could be scared into doing the right thing.”
Asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler how he felt about his actions now, Dolan said: “Looking back on it, I think I was pretty naive, downright stupid with some of my decisions.
“I’m thankful that President Trump at the time didn’t do something like invoke the Insurrection Act, because there would have been a lot of violence had he.
“I just feel pretty stupid about the whole thing,” Dolan added.