Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, 10 others charged with seditious conspiracy for January 6 assault

Washington — The Justice Division charged 11 folks, together with the founding father of the right-wing militia generally known as the Oath Keepers, with “seditious conspiracy” for his or her alleged roles within the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, probably the most critical costs delivered to date regarding the riot.

Elmer Stewart Rhodes of Granbury, Texas, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., and arrested in Texas on Thursday morning, the Justice Division mentioned. Prosecutors allege he and others conspired to storm the Capitol and interrupt the tallying of electoral votes within the 2020 election.

In complete, 19 folks have been charged in three separate indictments unsealed Thursday. Eleven of the people face seditious conspiracy costs, whereas the remaining face counts of corruptly obstructing an official continuing and different associated costs. Rhodes and one other man, Edward Vallejo of Phoenix, Arizona, have been charged for the primary time, whereas the others have been named in earlier indictments.

“The seditious conspiracy indictment alleges that, following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, Rhodes conspired along with his co-defendants and others to oppose by drive the execution of the legal guidelines governing the switch of presidential energy by Jan. 20, 2021,” the Justice Division mentioned.

One among Rhodes’ attorneys, Jon Moseley, informed CBS Information “I do not assume they’re going to have the ability to show” the case towards Rhodes primarily based off the paperwork.

Earlier than Thursday’s announcement, roughly two dozen members or associates of the Oath Keepers had been charged for his or her alleged participation within the January 6 assault, many as a part of one massive case accusing them of conspiracy.

In a 48-page indictment, prosecutors detailed how Rhodes and his co-conspirators allegedly deliberate to cease the switch of energy by January 20, 2020, when President Biden can be sworn into workplace.

“They coordinated journey throughout the nation to enter Washington, D.C., outfitted themselves with a wide range of weapons, donned fight and tactical gear, and have been ready to reply Rhodes’s name to take up arms at Rhodes’s route,” in line with the indictment. “Some co-conspirators additionally amassed firearms on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., distributed them amongst ‘fast response drive’ groups, and deliberate to make use of the firearms in help of their plot to cease the lawful switch of presidential energy.” 

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, is seen February 28, 2021, in Fort Worth, Texas.
Stewart Rhodes, founding father of the Oath Keepers, is seen February 28, 2021, in Fort Value, Texas.

Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Put up by way of Getty Photos

Rhodes started sending messages via encrypted functions in November 2020 encouraging fellow Oath Keepers to oppose the switch of powers, prosecutors mentioned.

In a single message despatched November 5, two days after the election, Rhodes informed his followers in a message on the app Sign: “We do not get via this with no civil warfare. Too late for that. Put together your thoughts, physique spirit.” Then, in one other message on November 7, when Mr. Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election, Rhodes wrote, “We should now do what the folks of Serbia did when Milosevic stole their election – Refuse to just accept it and march en-mass on the nation’s Capitol.”

Rhodes then convened an internet assembly with Oath Keepers members, throughout which he outlined a plan to cease the switch of presidential energy, which included preparations for the usage of drive, court docket paperwork allege.

Following the assembly, Kelly Meggs, the self-described chief of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers who’s already dealing with costs, despatched a message to different members, saying: “Anyone not on the decision tonight. We have now been issued a name to motion for DC. That is the second we signed up for….”

Coordination and planning for the occasions of January 6 started in late December, federal prosecutors allege, with Rhodes and fellow Oath Keepers planning to carry weapons to the Washington space to help their efforts to cease Congress from reaffirming Mr. Biden’s election win.

On the day of the assault, prosecutors detailed how the members of the Oath Keepers and its associates fashioned two “stacks” to breach the Capitol constructing. The primary stack entered the Capitol Rotunda and cut up up, with one half trying to push via legislation enforcement outdoors the Senate chamber and the second half heading towards the Home searching for Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in line with the indictment. 

“They didn’t discover Speaker Pelosi and in the end left the constructing,” the submitting states.

The second stack additionally breached the grounds of the Capitol, and three of the Oath Keepers entered the Rotunda and tried to push again police guarding the realm, prosecutors mentioned.

In the meantime, the charging paperwork allege a separate staff of Oath Keepers remained outdoors Washington and was “ready to quickly transport firearms and different weapons into Washington, D.C., in help of the operations.”

If convicted, every cost of seditious conspiracy carries a sentence of as much as 20 years in jail, though federal judges have extensive latitude to impose sentences.

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