Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, 10 others charged with ambitious plot during January 6 uprising in Capitol

WASHINGTON – Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of the far-right militia group The Oath Keepers, has been arrested and charged with an ambitious plot to attack the U.S. Capitol, authorities say know on Thursday.

Ten other people have also been charged with conspiracy in connection with the January 6, 2021 attack, when authorities said members of the extremist group traveled to Washington with the intention of preventing President Donald Trump’s confirmation of victory. President Joe Biden.

These are the first allegations of an ambitious conspiracy brought by the Justice Department regarding an attack led by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

Rhodes, 56, of Granbury, Texas, and Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, Arizona, were arrested on Thursday. Others charged have faced criminal charges in connection with the attack. Rhodes is the most senior member of an extremist group captured during the deadly siege.

The arrest of Rhodes and others is a serious escalation of charges against thousands of rioters who stormed the Capitol. And the accusations partly answer to a growing chorus of Republicans, who have openly questioned the seriousness of the January 6 uprising, arguing that because No one has been charged with treason or treason so it can’t be as violent.

Rhodes did not enter the Capitol building on January 6 but is accused of helping to bring about incidents of violence that disrupted the certification of the vote. The Oath Keepers case is the largest conspiracy case the federal government has launched since January 6, when rioters stormed police barricades and smashed windows, leaving dozens of officers dead. hurt and sent legislators fleeing.

The indictment against Rhodes alleges the Oath-Keepers formed two teams, or “stacks,” to enter the Capitol. The first “stack” splits inside the building to go separate after the House and Senate. The indictment said the second “husband” confronted the officers inside the Capitol Rotunda. Outside Washington, the indictment alleges, the Oath-Keepers stationed two “quick response forces” armed with guns “to assist in a conspiracy to prevent a legitimate transfer of power”.

Jonathan Moseley, the attorney representing Rhodes, said his client was arrested Thursday in Texas.

“He was questioned a lot about why he wasn’t prosecuted,” Moseley said. “I don’t know if this is in response to those discussions, but we think it’s unfortunate. It’s an unusual situation.”

Moseley said Rhodes was supposed to testify before the House committee investigating the January 6 uprising during a strike, but it was suspended. He was on the phone with Rhodes about the committee when Rhodes was contacted by the FBI.

Rhodes has said in interviews with right-wing supporters that there are no plans to storm the Capitol and that members who do so are fraudulent. But he continued to lay out the lie that the 2020 election had been stolen, while posts on the Oath Keepers website described the group as victims of political persecution.

Authorities said the Oath-Keepers and their associates prepared in the weeks leading up to January 6 as if they were about to go to war, discussing weapons and training. Days before the attack, one defendant suggested in a text message ask for an arms boat across the Potomac River for their “waiting arms,” ​​prosecutors said.

On January 6, several members, wearing camouflage combat gear, were seen on camera making their way through the crowd and into the Capitol in a military-style stacking formation, authorities said. .

The Oath Keeper defendants argued in court that the only plan was to provide security for the protest before a riot broke out or to protect themselves against possible attacks from activists anti-French extreme left.

Rhodes, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate who founded Team Oath in 2009, appeared in court documents in the conspiracy case for weeks as “Person one”.

Authorities say Rhodes held a GoToMeeting call a few days after the election, asking his followers to come to Washington and let Trump know “who are behind him.” Rhodes told the members that they should be prepared to fight antifa and that some of the Vow Keepers should “stay out” and “get ready to arm themselves” if necessary.

“We will defend the president, the duly elected president, and we urge him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don’t, you will fall. into the bloody, bloody Civil War, and bloody – you can call it an uprising or you can call it a war or combat,” Rhodes said, according to court documents .

Authorities say Rhodes was part of an Encrypted Signals conversation with Oath Keepers from multiple states leading up to a January 6 called “DC OP: January 6,” and it showed the group was “inciting fire” activate a plan to use force” that day.

On the afternoon of the 6th, authorities said Rhodes told the group on Signal: “All I see Trump doing is complaining. I don’t see him intending to do anything. So the patriots are putting it in their own hands. They’ve got it all.”

Around 2:30 p.m., Rhodes had a 97-second phone call with Kelly Meggs, the charismatic leader of the group’s Florida division, who was part of a military-style stack, authorities said. About 10 minutes later, Rhodes sent the group a photo of the southeast side of the Capitol with the caption, “South of the U.S. Capitol. Patriots banging on the door.” Around the same time, members of the squad were forcibly entered the Capitol, prosecutors said.

Oath-holders and members of other extremist groups, such as the Proud Boys, are just part of the more than 580 people who have been charged in the riots. But several leaders, members and their associates have become the focus of an extensive Justice Department investigation as authorities work to determine the extent to which the attack was plotted. before.

The last time US prosecutors brought up such a compelling conspiracy case was in 2010 during an alleged conspiracy in Michigan led by members of the Hutaree militia to incite an uprising against the United States. back to the government. But a judge ordered the acquittal of conspiracy charges in a 2012 trial, saying prosecutors relied too much on First Amendment-protected haters and did not prove the defendant had a blueprint for a mutiny.

Among the last successful convictions for the ambitious conspiracy stemmed from another, now largely forgotten, attack on the Capitol in 1954, when four Puerto Rican nationalists exploded. gun into the House floor, wounding 5 representatives.

In general, the standard for proving seduction is not as high as for a treason-related charge. However, sedation fees are rare and very difficult to obtain.

Copyright © 2022 of the Associated Press. Copyright Registered. Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, 10 others charged with ambitious plot during January 6 uprising in Capitol

Dais Johnston

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