Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy in Jan 6, Trial

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Stewart Rhodes
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Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right Oath Keepers, has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy and other offenses in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

A federal jury in Washington, D.C., also convicted Rhodes of obstructing an official proceeding and tampering with documents. He was acquitted of two other conspiracy counts.

Rhodes did not enter the Capitol during the riot, but instead stood outside like a “battlefield general” surveying his troops, prosecutor Jeffrey Nestler said.

All five defendants on trial in this case were charged with seditious conspiracy but only one in addition to Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, was found guilty. The three other defendants — Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell — were acquitted on that central charge.

But all of the defendants were found guilty of obstructing an official proceeding as well as a mix of other charges.

Jurors returned their verdict after nearly three full days of deliberations.

As the foreperson read the verdict aloud, Rhodes jerked his head down and scribbled a note to himself. Watkins nodded vigorously when she was found not guilty of seditious conspiracy and Caldwell closed his eyes several times.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who testified during the trial, sat in the front row for the jury verdict. He looked emotional and let out a long sigh after the jury filed out of the courtroom.

The prosecution of the Oath Keepers leader and his co-defendants is the most consequential Jan. 6 case yet to have gone to trial.

Prosecution’s Case

In this trial, the government called more than two dozen witnesses, including FBI agents, U.S. Capitol Police officers and two Oath Keepers who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

But the foundation of the government’s case was the hundreds of text messages, Facebook communications as well as audio and video recordings that allowed jurors to see and hear what the defendants were saying and thinking in the months leading up to Jan. 6, on the day itself and afterward.

Defense’s Case

Attorneys for the defendants pushed back against various aspects of the government’s case.

Witnesses testified that having a quick reaction force was routine for the Oath Keepers, and that the group had similar teams set up at previous rallies.

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