Seditious conspiracy: 11 oath keepers charged in Jan. 6 riot – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, and 10 other members or associates have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the vicious attack on the U.S. Capitol, authorities said Thursday.
Despite hundreds of accusations Already introduced the year since pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol in a bid to prevent certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, these were the first seditious conspiracy charges brought in part of the attack of January 6, 2021.
It marked a serious escalation in the largest investigation in Justice Department history – more than 700 people have been arrested and charged with federal crimes – and underscored the work that has been done to piece together the worst cases. more complicated. The charges rebut, in part, the growing chorus of Republican lawmakers who have publicly challenged the seriousness of the insurgency, arguing that since no one had yet been charged with sedition or treason, it could not have been so violent.
The indictment alleges that the keepers of the oath for weeks discussed trying to reverse election results and preparing for a siege by buying weapons and setting up battle plans. They wrote repeatedly in discussions about the prospect of violence and the need, as Rhodes reportedly put it in one piece, to “scare the s—outs” out of Congress. And on January 6, according to the indictment, they entered the Capitol building with the large crowd of rioters who stormed police barriers and smashed windows, injuring dozens of officers and scaring away lawmakers.
Authorities said the oath keepers and their associates worked as if going to war, discussing weapons and training. Days before the attack, a defendant suggested in a text message that a boat was carrying weapons down the Potomac River to their “waiting arms,” prosecutors say.
On Jan. 6, several members, dressed in camouflage combat gear, were seen on camera pushing their way through the crowd and into the Capitol in a military-style pile formation, authorities said.
The indictment against Rhodes alleges that the Oath Keepers formed two teams, or “stacks”, which entered the Capitol. The first stack split inside the building to attack the House and Senate separately. The second stack clashed with officers inside the Capitol rotunda, according to the indictment. Outside Washington, according to the indictment, the Guardians of the Oath had stationed two “quick reaction forces” which had firearms “in support of their plot to prevent the lawful transfer of power.”
Rhodes, 56, from Granbury, Texas, is the highest-ranking member of an extremist group to be arrested during the deadly siege. He and Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, Arizona, were arrested Thursday. The other nine were already facing criminal charges related to the attack.
Sedition charges are hard to win and rarely used, but defendants face a hefty prison sentence of 20 years if convicted, compared to five for other conspiracy charges. The last time US prosecutors brought such a riotous conspiracy case was in 2010 in an alleged Michigan plot by members of the Hutaree militia to incite an uprising against the government. But a judge ordered acquittals on sedition conspiracy charges at a 2012 trial, saying prosecutors relied too heavily on hateful rants protected by the First Amendment and failed, as they should, proved that the accused ever had detailed plans for a rebellion.
Among the last successful convictions for seditious conspiracy stems from another, now largely forgotten, storming of the Capitol in 1954, when four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire on the floor of the House, wounding five representatives.
Most of the hundreds of people accused of violence face lesser crimes. More than 150 people have been charged with assaulting police officers at the Capitol. More than 50 people have been charged with conspiracy, mostly people linked to the far-right Proud Boys and Keepers of the Anti-Government Oath. No sedition charges have been brought against the Proud Boys.
Rhodes did not enter the Capitol building on Jan. 6 but is accused of helping to ignite the violence. Jonathan Moseley, an attorney who said he represented Rhodes, said Rhodes was supposed to testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 uprising in a deposition, but that deposition was quashed.
“He’s been under a lot of suspicion as to why he hasn’t been charged” so far in the Jan. 6 riot, Moseley said. “I don’t know if it’s in response to those discussions, but we think it’s unfortunate. It’s an unusual situation.
A second attorney representing the group, Kellye SoRelle, said she would release a statement later and said Mosley was not representing Rhodes.
Rhodes said in interviews with right-wing hosts that there were no plans to storm the Capitol and that members who did have gone rogue. But he continued to push the lie that the 2020 election was stolen, while the posts on the The Oath Keepers website described the group as a victim of political persecution.
Other defendants in the plot argued in court that the only plan was to provide security for the rally before the riot or to protect against possible attacks by far-left antifa activists.
Rhodes, a former US Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate, founded the Oath Keepers in 2009. The far-right group recruits current and former military, police and first responders. Several of those arrested are veterans.
Rhodes appeared in court papers in the conspiracy case for months as “Person One.”
Authorities say he held a GoToMeeting call days after the election, telling his supporters to come to Washington and let President Donald Trump know “the people are behind him.” Rhodes told members they should be ready to fight antifa and that some oath keepers should “stay on the outside” and be “ready to go in armed” if necessary.
“We are going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we are asking him to do what it takes to save our country. Because if you guys don’t, you’re going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody – you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or a fight,” Rhodes said, according to reports. court documents. .
Authorities said Rhodes was part of an encrypted conversation on Signal with oath keepers from multiple states prior to Jan. 6 called “DC OP: Jan 6 21” and it showed the group was “activating a plan to use force. ” That day.
On the afternoon of the 6th, authorities say Rhodes told the group via Signal, “All I see Trump doing is complaining. I don’t see any intention on his part to do anything. So the Patriots are taking this into their own hands. They’ve had enough.
Around 2:30 p.m., Rhodes had a 97-second phone call with Kelly Meggs, the reputed leader of the group’s Florida chapter, who was part of the military-style pile, authorities said. About 10 minutes later, Rhodes sent a photo to the group showing the southeast side of the Capitol with the caption “South side of US Capitol.” Patriots are knocking on doors. Around the same time, members of the stack formation forced their way into the Capitol, prosecutors say.
He was expected in court on Friday in Texas.
More than 70 defendants are still being held for rioting. At least 183 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges related to the Jan. 11 riots. At least 78 of them have been convicted, including 35 people who have been sentenced to prison or prison terms or to sentences already served.
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