Stewart Rhodes convicted of seditious conspiracy on Jan. 6
In a historic Jan. 6 verdict for the inquest, a federal jury in the nation’s capital convicted two top leaders of the far-right group Oath Keepers of seditious conspiracy — a rarely brought charge that accused them of plotting a violent overthrow of the US government or prevent the execution of their laws.
Founder of Oath Keepers Steward Rhodes and chapter leaders of Florida Kelly Meggs were convicted on Tuesday on that charge. Jessica Watkins, Thomas Calwelland Kenneth Harrelson were acquitted of this chief charge, but also received convictions for serious crimes.
All five defendants were convicted of obstructing an official process of Congress. Both the seditious conspiracy charge and the obstruction charge carry a possible 20-year prison sentence.
The jury’s verdict comes after three deliberations after a trial that spanned nearly seven weeks. The jury heard testimony from FBI agents investigating the attack, law enforcement officials who were on the scene at the Capitol that day, and even some former members of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia founded by Rhodes in 2009 after the former’s election President was established Barack Obama.
The Oath Keepers trial is one of the most high-profile cases the government has ever conducted widespread law enforcement of the January 6 riot, as dozens of donald trump Supporters overwhelmed law enforcement and forced their way into the Capitol while Congress confirmed the president Joe Biden2020 election victory. Lawmakers were forced to either evacuate the building or take shelter on site until the violent chaos subsided.
Rhodes and his co-defendants were the first to be charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the attempted insurrection. Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the “Western chauvinist” extremist group Proud Boys, was similarly charged in June; his trial before the US District Judge is scheduled for December 12 Timothy Kellya Trump representative.
On the seditious conspiracy charge, the jury was asked to determine whether the defendants planned to use force to overthrow the US government or to use force to stop the execution of its laws. With this verdict, the answer is a resounding “yes” – in relation to two top executives.
Such grave convictions in a case hitherto seen as one of the centerpieces of an investigation involving hundreds of indicted defendants drew statements from senior Justice Department officials to the Attorney General Merrick garland.
“The Justice Department is committed to holding those criminally responsible for the attack on our democracy on January 6, 2021,” Garland said. “The prosecutors and agents in this case have worked tirelessly, with exceptional skill and in the best traditions of the Department of Justice.”
FBI Director Christopher Wraya Trump-appointed official whose agency didn’t blink during a search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago home earlier this year said the verdict was a statement.
“As this case demonstrates, breaking the law to undermine the functioning of American democracy will not be tolerated,” Wray wrote.
US Attorney Matthew M Graveswho heads the district at the heart of the Jan. 6 investigation, also made similar comments in defense of democracy.
According to the government, Rhodes was the driving force behind the Oath Keepers members’ plan to keep Trump in power and launched his alleged plan back on November 9, 2020. Prosecutors shared a partial recording of a conference call with members of the group on the GoToMeeting teleconferencing service. Defense attorneys tried to undermine the value of this record by focusing on the man who made it: Abdullah Raschid, a convicted child molester who had been appointed head of the West Virginia Oath Keepers. As Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Nestler However, during the closing arguments, it was pointed out that the defense has never questioned the authenticity of this record, regardless of who was behind it.
Rhodes also publicly urged Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, which he believed would essentially give him free rein to field a militia and use force to prevent Biden from taking office.
Defense attorneys argued that since there was no actual plan to breach the Capitol that day, there could have been no conspiracy. A defense witness testified that the Signal chats and GoToMeeting calls, in which Rhodes appeared to encourage members of Oath Keepers to interfere in confirming the election, were little more than “dressing room talk,” albeit talk that ” too far”.
The trial was the first of two in a case that originally charged 11 co-defendants with sedition and obstruction. Four remaining defendants – Roberto Minuta, Ed Vallejo, Joseph Hackettand David Moerschel – will appear in court from November 29.
two co-accused, JoshuaJames and brian ulrichhad previously pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors.
[Image of Rhodes via the Collin County (Texas) Jail. Images of Watkins, Harrelson, Caldwell, and Meggs via FBI court filings.]
Do you have a tip we should know? [email protected]
https://lawandcrime.com/oath-keepers-jan-6-trial/top-oath-keepers-leaders-convicted-of-seditious-conspiracy-charges-other-felonies-in-landmark-jan-6-capitol-attack-case/ Stewart Rhodes convicted of seditious conspiracy on Jan. 6