Far-Right Militia Boss Thinks He Can Woo the Jury in Capitol Riot Case




  • In Politics
  • 2022-10-03 17:15:45Z
  • By The Daily Beast
Photo by Aaron C.
Photo by Aaron C.  

As hundreds of MAGA rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol last January, prosecutors say five members of the far-right militia group Oath Keepers were executing a long-planned mission: "an armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of American democracy."

The argument, made Monday in D.C. federal court, launched the most significant trial yet over the insurrection intended to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's win over Donald Trump in the 2020 election. Prosecutors say that unlike some rank-and-file conspiracy theorists-many of whom have already been convicted-Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, and four of his acolytes plotted for weeks to subvert democracy.

Officially, the five defendants are charged with seditious conspiracy, a rare Civil War-era charge which is by far the most serious lobbed at anyone in connection with the riot and means a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. They have all pleaded not guilty.

"Their goal was to stop by whatever means necessary the lawful transfer of presidential power, including by taking up arms against the United States government," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler said during his opening statement on Monday. "They did not go to the Capitol to defend or help; they went to attack."

Prosecutors allege that "like a general," Rhodes surveyed his "troops" during the riot as they breached the Capitol, coordinating with groups that had stockpiles of weapons outside of D.C. Just days after the insurrection, Nestler said, Rhodes told an associate they "should've brought rifles" and indicated he thought Trump was going to still fight the election. (While Trump did say he would yield power in the aftermath of the bloody riot, the election lies that fueled it remain the lifeblood of the GOP.)

Daughter of Oath Keepers Founder Organizing Pro-Choice Rally

On Monday, Rhodes' lawyer revealed that the founder-himself a graduate of Yale Law School-intended to testify on his own behalf. Broadly, defense attorneys say their clients' anger at the election was taken out of context and that their actions on Jan. 6 were not violent.

"Even though it may look inflammatory, they did nothing illegal," Philip Linder, Rhodes' lawyer, said during his opening statement on Monday.

Standing trial with Rhodes are Kelly Meggs, leader of the Florida Oath Keepers chapter; member Kenneth Harrelson; Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer; and Jessica Watkins, who led an Ohio militia group.

Federal authorities have described the Oath Keepers as "a large but loosely organized collection of [the] militia who believe that the federal government has been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights" and who heavily recruit former military, law enforcement, and first responders.

Among the group's earlier forays onto the national scene was their vigilante-style presence in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police killing of Michael Brown in 2014. In 2020, they inserted themselves into the fray in Louisville, Kentucky, where protests had erupted over the police killing of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed Black woman shot during a dubious raid.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.

COMMENTS

More Related News

After final Trump-backed midterm loss, Senate Republicans bemoan weak nominees
After final Trump-backed midterm loss, Senate Republicans bemoan weak nominees
  • US
  • 2022-12-07 21:21:22Z

Republicans on Wednesday blamed their loss in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff election on several factors directly tied to former President Donald Trump...

OnPolitics: How did the GOP lose Georgia? Walker, Trump influence cost Senate seat
OnPolitics: How did the GOP lose Georgia? Walker, Trump influence cost Senate seat

Democrat Raphael Warnock's victory over Republican Herschel Walker expanded Democrats' hold over the Senate. Who's to blame for the GOP's loss?

A Republican Mayor in Suburban Atlanta Pins Georgia
A Republican Mayor in Suburban Atlanta Pins Georgia's Purpling on Trump

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - Rusty Paul, the Republican mayor of Sandy Springs, a surging suburb abutting northern Atlanta's city limits, attributed the purpling of ...

Classified Documents Found in Search of Trump Storage Site
Classified Documents Found in Search of Trump Storage Site

Former President Donald Trump hired people to search four properties after being directed by a federal judge to look harder for any classified material still...

Lawyers reportedly found more classified government documents in Trump
Lawyers reportedly found more classified government documents in Trump's Florida storage units alongside 'swords and wrestling belts'

Donald Trump hired a team to do a more thorough search of his properties after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Politics