Oath Keepers Founder Arrested For Seditious Conspiracy Over Jan. 6

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Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the violent, far-right organization known as the Oath Keepers, has been arrested by the FBI and charged with seditious conspiracy in connection to last January’s attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. Rhodes was amidst the violence that unfolded at the Capitol on the day of the riot — he entered the restricted area that had been set up around the premises — but he’s insisted that he didn’t enter the building, although members of his group were documented to do so. An early report from The Washington Post revealed that 10 individuals in addition to Rhodes had also been charged with seditious conspiracy related to the riot. The consequence for being found guilty of seditious conspiracy is up to 20 years in jail.

Seditious conspiracy is defined in U.S. law as an effort “to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States,” among other hallmarks of the offense. As the Post recapped, previous court filings from federal authorities state that “Rhodes began discussing plans to keep Trump in the White House by force as early as Nov. 9” — nearly two months before the eventual attack on the Capitol. More specifically, the Justice Department states that “[beginning] in late December 2020, via encrypted and private communications applications, Rhodes and various co-conspirators coordinated and planned to travel to Washington, D.C., on or around Jan. 6, 2021.”

Rhodes apparently encouraged going to Washington, D.C. for January 6. Individuals involved with the Oath Keepers prepared for violence to the point of stockpiling weapons at a hotel in the vicinity of Washington, D.C., where individuals were prepared to transport the weapons to people on the ground.

It certainly seems notable for Rhodes to face such a gravely serious charge no matter the fact that he didn’t even go in the Capitol building during the January chaos — other potential conspirators likely ought to worry. Just recently, Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that the Department of Justice “remains committed to holding all January 6th perpetrators, at any level, accountable under law — whether they were present that day or were otherwise criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy.” As for Rhodes in particular, he is alleged to have “exchanged dozens of encrypted messages, phone calls and other communications with members of the Oath Keepers group that breached the Capitol” before and during the assault, as the Post explains. Rhodes has insisted that he didn’t break any laws and was aiming to keep Oath Keepers-affiliated individuals “out of trouble.”