Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol as he attempted to reverse then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 election defeat.
The verdicts of Rhodes and four co-defendants came after three days of deliberations in the most high-profile trial yet resulting from the deadly attack on the US Capitol, and other high-profile trials are set to begin next month.
A co-defendant, Kelly Meggs, was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy on Tuesday, while three others – Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell – were acquitted of those charges. All were found guilty of obstructing an official trial on January 6. Rhodes faces up to 20 years in prison.
Hundreds of people were convicted in the attack on the Capitol that left dozens of officers injured and lawmakers running for their lives.
A federal jury has found Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy in a high-level trial following the attack on the US Capitol
Rhodes and his co-defendants are accused of a week-long plot to stop Republican Donald Trump handing power to Democrat Joe Biden
Jessica Marie Watkins (2nd from left) and Donovan Ray Crowl (center), both from Ohio, march with the militia group Oath Keepers down the east front steps of the US Capitol amid supporters of US, January 6 in Washington, United States -President Donald Trump, 2021
Rhodes, a Yale Law School-trained former Army paratrooper and disfellowshipped attorney, has been accused by prosecutors during an eight-week trial of conspiring to prevent Congress from confirming President Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump.
He was the best known of the five defendants in the most significant of the numerous trials that arose out of the deadly Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.
US District Judge Amit Mehta presided over the trial, and the jury deliberated for three days before returning a verdict on Tuesday.
Rhodes, who is wearing an eyepatch after accidentally shooting himself in the face with his own gun, is one of the most prominent defendants of around 900 charged so far in connection with the attack.
Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers in 2009, a militia group whose membership includes current and retired US service members, law enforcement officials and first responders.
Its members have often turned up heavily armed at protests and political events across the United States, including the racial justice demonstrations following the killing of a black man named George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer.
Prosecutors said during the trial that Rhodes and his co-defendants intended to use force to prevent Congress from officially confirming Biden’s election victory. Meggs, Watkins, and Harrelson all entered the Capitol in tactical gear.
Violent insurgents loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021
Rhodes was the most prominent of the five defendants in the most significant of the numerous trials that resulted from the deadly January 6, 2021 Capitol riot
President Donald Trump spoke to his supporters of The Ellipse on January 6, 2021
The defendants were charged with creating a “rapid reaction force,” which prosecutors said was based at a nearby Virginia hotel and equipped with firearms that could be quickly transported to Washington if called up.
Fifty witnesses testified at the trial. Rhodes and two of his co-defendants testified in their own defense. They denied planning an attack or attempting to prevent Congress from confirming the election results, although Watkins admitted to interfering with police officers protecting the Capitol.
Rhodes told the jury he had no intention of storming the Capitol and only learned after the riot had ended that some of his fellow Oathkeepers had entered the building.
During cross-examination, prosecutors tried to frame Rhodes as a liar and showed him page after page of his inflammatory text messages, videos, photos and audio recordings.
These included Rhodes, who complained about not bringing guns into Washington on January 6 and said he could have hung US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat despised by the right, from a lamppost.
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia known as the Oath Keepers, speaks during a rally outside the White House in Washington June 25, 2017
Watkins, a transgender woman who fled the US Army after being confronted with homophobic slurs, and Caldwell, a disabled US Navy veteran, also opted to testify.
Watkins admitted he was “criminal responsible” for obstructing police officers in the Capitol and apologized. At the same time, Watkins denied wanting to storm the building and described that he was “carried away” in the way enthusiastic shoppers behave on “Black Friday” when they rush to shops to buy Christmas gifts at discounted prices like televisions.
Caldwell, who like Rhodes did not set foot on the Capitol and never officially joined the Oath Keepers, tried to downplay some of the inflammatory texts he sent out in connection with the attack. Caldwell said some of the lines were adapted from or inspired by films like The Princess Bride and cartoons like Bugs Bunny.
Four other members of the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy are due to be tried in December. Members of another right-wing group called the Proud Boys, including its former leader Enrique Tarrio, are also due to be tried in December on seditious conspiracy charges.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11483491/Oath-Keepers-leader-Stewart-Rhodes-guilty-seditious-conspiracy-January-6-riot.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 The leader of the Oath Keepers, Stewart Rhodes, was found guilty of seditious conspiracy over the January 6 riots