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Oath Keepers founder guilty of seditious conspiracy in Jan. 6 case

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WASHINGTON (AP) —- Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was found guilty on Tuesday of seditious conspiracy in an armed plot to dismantle Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election and handed Biden’s Justice Department a major victory in its massive investigation that arose from the Jan. 6th, 2021 revolt.

A Washington, D.C., jury was found to have found Rhodes to be guilty of sedition following 3 days of debate during the trial lasting nearly two months that exposed the extremist far-right group’s efforts to ensure that Republican Donald Trump in the White House at all costs.

Utilizing a variety of encrypted communications, recordings, and surveillance video, the prosecutors built the argument that Rhodes began shortly following the presidential election in 2020 to plan an unarmed uprising to block the transfer of power from the president.

For seven weeks of deposition, the jury heard about the story of how Rhodes inspired his supporters to fight for Trump and discussed the possibility of an “bloody” conflict and warned that the Oath Keepers could be forced to “rise to the challenge” to take on Biden If Trump would not take action.

Rhodes and the co-defendant indicted for seditious conspiracies are the first in more than three years to be proven guilty of the seldom employed Civil War charge during a the trial. The trial was perhaps the most important ever in the history of the Justice Department in its efforts to find those accountable to the terrible attack which rattled the foundation’s American democratic institutions.

The Seditious Conspiracy calls for 20 years or more in prison.

The defendants in the trial, along with Rhodes from Granbury, Texas, were Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida chapter of the Oath Keepers; Kenneth Harrelson Another Florida Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer from Virginia And Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group.

Defense lawyers accused prosecutors of manipulating their clients’ statements and claimed that the Oath Keepers arrived in Washington in order to provide security to figures like Roger Stone, a longtime Trump Ally. The defense emphasized the need to prove that Rhodes his rhetoric was nothing more than rhetoric in the first place, and also that Oath Keepers had no strategy prior to January. 6 to strike the Capitol.

Rhodes admitted that he had no notion that his followers planning to join the mob to take over the Capitol and he said he was angry when the news that some had done it. Rhodes claimed that they were doing something “stupid” and were not in line with their intended purpose.

Prosecutors argued that the Oath Keepers were looking for a way to further their plan to stop the transfer of power. They then sprung into action after the mob began encroaching on the Capitol. This Capitol attack was an “means towards a resolution” to the Oath Keepers the assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy said to jurors during her closing defense.

Jurors were shown the story of how Rhodes invested hundreds of dollars for an AR-platform gun and other accessories, including magazines, mounts, sights, and other gear while he was in Washington before the riots began. They watched surveillance footage of the Virginia hotel where Oath Keepers hid weapons to “quick react force” teams that prosecutors said were prepared to bring weapons to the city in a hurry in the event of a need. The weapons were never used.

In January. 6 Oath Keepers dressed in combat gear were captured on camera stumbling through the crowd to the Capitol. Rhodes stood outside, as a “general watching his troops from the field,” a prosecutor said. Following the riot, Rhodes and other Oath Keepers went to an Olive Garden restaurant to celebrate according to the prosecution.

The trial provided new information concerning Rhodes’s efforts to force Trump to remain in the White House in the weeks prior to the election on Jan. 6. Following the election in a chat group which included Stone who was referred to as “FOS” also known as “Friends of Stone,” Rhodes wrote, “So will you step up and force Trump to act decisively?”

A third witness testified that following the incident, Rhodes tried to persuade him to send an email to Trump that urged Trump not to relinquish his fight for the presidency. The intermediary, a man who informed jurors that he had an indirect means of reaching Trump and recorded his conversation with Rhodes and took it to the FBI instead of passing his message to Trump.

“If Rhodes isn’t going take the proper action and is going to allow himself to be taken away legally, then we ought to have carried rifles,” Rhodes said during the meeting, as per the recording that jurors were shown. “We ought to have taken action immediately and right there. It would have been better to suspend (expletive) Pelosi from the lamppost,” Rhodes said, in reference to Pelosi, the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Three other Oath Keepers had previously confessed to seditious conspiracies. The last time that the Justice Department had secured such convictions at trial, however, was during the 1995 trial of Islamic militants who planned to attack New York City landmarks.

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