Oath Keepers leader found guilty of seditious conspiracy on January 6th

A charge stemming from efforts to protect the federal government from southern rebels during the Civil War. Insurgent conspiracy has been used against a variety of defendants over the years — including far-right militias, radical labor unions and Puerto Rican nationalists. The last successful indictment of sedition came in 1995, when a group of Islamist militants was convicted of planning an attack on several New York City landmarks.

The Oath Keepers hate speech trial began in Washington Federal District Court in early October. In his opening statement, Jeffrey S. Nestler, one of the lead prosecutors, told the jury that in the weeks following Mr. Biden’s election victory, Mr. Rhodes and his subordinates hatched “a plan for armed rebellion to shake a foundation of American democracy “: the peaceful transfer of power from the President.

Mr Nestler also closed the government’s case last week, stating that the Oath Keepers plotted against Mr Biden and ignored both the law and the will of voters because they hated the results of the election.

“They claimed to save the Republic,” he said, “but they broke it up instead.”

Between those statements, prosecutors showed the jury hundreds of encrypted text messages exchanged by Oath Keepers members, showing that Mr. Rhodes and some of his supporters were obsessed with outlandish fears that Chinese agents were infiltrating the United States government and Mr. Biden – a “puppet” of the Chinese Communist Party – could cede control of the country to the United Nations.

The messages also revealed Mr Rhodes was obsessed with the left-wing movement known as Antifa, which he believed was in league with Mr Biden’s new administration. At one point during the trial, Mr. Rhodes, speaking in his own defense, told the jury he was convinced Antifa activists would storm the White House, overpower the Secret Service and forcibly drag Mr. Trump out of the building if the If so, Mr. Biden could not admit defeat.

Prosecutors tried to demonstrate how Mr. Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper with a law degree from Yale, grew increasingly panicky as the election headed toward its final confirmation at a joint session of Congress on Jan. 6. Under his direction, the Oath Keepers – whose members are mostly former law enforcement officials and military veterans – attended two “stop the steal” rallies in Washington, provided security at events and served as bodyguards for pro-Trump dignitaries.

During the post-election period, the jury was told, Mr Rhodes was keen to get in touch with Mr Trump and persuade him to take extraordinary measures to retain power. In December 2020, he published two open letters to Mr Trump on his website, asking the President to seize data from voting machines across the country that would allegedly prove the election had been rigged.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/11/29/us/politics/oath-keepers-trial-verdict-jan-6.html Oath Keepers leader found guilty of seditious conspiracy on January 6th


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