Amanda Chase denies knowing indicted Oath Keeper who appeared in her Jan. 5 video
Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian) is denying any connection to Stewart Rhodes, a far-right militia leader who appeared with her in a video hosted by her Facebook page on the eve of the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Rhodes was charged with sedition earlier this month for his role in the insurrection.
Chase streamed the video on her official – and now suspended – Facebook page on Jan. 5, 2021. It featured Rhodes, founder of the far-right Oath Keeper group, alongside three other supporters of former President Donald Trump. In the video, Rhodes urged Trump to call on veterans to support his effort to overturn the election’s results.
“He could call us up right now as a militia and put us to work,” Rhodes said in a clip of the videocaptured by activist Kristopher Goad.
Rhodes was arrested last week and charged, along with 10 others, with seditious conspiracy, the most serious charges so far in the aftermath of the riot. In their indictment, prosecutors laid out what they said was a far-reaching plot to storm the Capitol and upend Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Campaign finance records also show Chase used funds from her unsuccessful 2021 run for Virginia governor to pay for a hotel room in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 as well as gas and parking.
Debbie Gwynn, an aide for Chase, said Chase and Rhodes had “bumped into one another” at an event where speakers at the Stop the Steal rally picked up identification, and recorded a video with him, but she “didn’t know him from Adam.”
In a follow-up interview on Friday, Chase denied any role in planning the attack and said she was “not anywhere near the Capitol” during the riot. The GOP lawmaker claimed she has no connection to Rhodes and didn’t recognize him by name.
“I do videos with a lot of people. A lot of people ask me to do selfies, they ask me to do pictures with them, and I'm happy to oblige,” Chase said. “And I don't always know who the people are that I'm with. And like I said, I don't recognize the individual's name anyway.”
Chase justified the use of campaign money as a legitimate expense in her duties as lawmaker. “I was representing the people of Virginia in stopping the steal,” she said, reiterating false claims of 2020 election fraud. Courts across the U.S. tossed out over 60 lawsuits contesting the election.
Chase spoke at the rally and posed with Trump supporters wearing walkie-talkies and tactical vests at the so-called Stop the Steal rally. The day after the riots, Chase called the storming of the Capitol the “start of a revolution” on her Facebook page while simultaneously blaming “antifa” for the day’s violence.
“The Revolution begins now,” Chase said in one post, The Progress-Index reported last year. “Patriots, it’s time to step up.”
Facebook suspended Chase’s page on Jan. 8, 2021. Democrats and three Republicans in Virginia’s state Senate voted to censure her later that month for “conduct unbecoming of a senator.” She has not caucused with her fellow Senate Republicans since November of 2019 and no longer serves on any committees.
The FBI declined to comment on whether it had questioned Chase in conjunction with its investigations of Jan. 6. Chase said the bureau had not contacted her.
Chase’s Jan. 5 video also featured Joshua Macias, the cofounder of Vets for Trump and one of two men arrested in Philadelphia on November 5, 2020, with an unregistered stash of firearms. Prosecutors said they planned to interrupt ballot counting.
Both men have appeared alongside Chase at various events. Marcias introduced Chase at the January 2020 gun rally in Richmond and walked alongside her when she launched her bid for governor. The other man charged in Philadelphia – Antonio LaMotta – also walked alongside Chase when she launched her gubernatorial campaign and at other points in 2020. Chase told reporters in November of 2020 that both men were supporters of her campaign but didn’t have official roles in it.
Chase was a major booster of Gov. Glenn Youngkin during his campaign as she leaned into calls for “forensic audits” of the 2020 election. She is carrying legislation that would require Virginia’s inspector general to conduct an audit of the 2020 general election and produce a report of his findings.
The Virginia Department of Elections’ report on the 2020 election called it “the most safe, secure, and successful” in the history of the commonwealth.