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Leader Stewart Rhodes tests positive for COVID-19 after Oath Keepers trial is delayed

Washington — Highest Profile Testing in the Justice Department Jan 6 Inquiry The adjournment was unexpectedly postponed on Monday after its top respondent contracted COVID-19 while he was under pretrial detention.

Oath-Keeping Leader Stewart Rhodes , The most serious charge of seditious conspiracy on the department , Having contracted the virus and is “in total isolation”, his lawyers said he had been told by prison officials, and that he would be unavailable for several days.

Judge Amit Mehta, who is presiding over the trial and trying to proceed with the trial at an efficient clip, told the court that Rhodes was probably unable to attend the trial in person for at least five days. There will be, if not more. The Alexandria County Jail, where the far-right group’s founder is being held, has a 10-day isolation policy, according to Mehta, so any early release, if possible, would require him to test negative.

It is not clear how long the proceedings will be halted because of Rhodes’s diagnosis. Mehta took leave in court on Monday at least till Tuesday morning.

Lawyers for Rhodes told CBS News that they are working on a possible remedy for the situation and that all parties are working to find a speedy resolution to resume the trial.

Rhodes and codependents Kelly Meigs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell were about to begin the fourth week of at least a 6-week-long jury trial in Washington, DC. Defendant , all of whom have pleaded not guilty , They are accused of planning to block the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, stockpiling weapons in the Washington, D.C. area to advance that plan, and of his movements in and around the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021. to coordinate

Rhodes’ defense lawyers said in court on Monday that they would be willing to give up their client’s right to appear for certain witnesses, but Mehta said he needed concrete confirmation from Rhodes himself. Such a move was acceptable. The defendant has the right to appear for any and all court proceedings in his case. Other options discussed on Monday included securing a video conference link for Rhodes’ remote participation, but Mehta has yet to rule on any remedial steps.

Rhodes’ positive COVID test is not the first person to intervene in the proceedings. Last week, a juror contracted the virus and was dismissed from service.

And although mandatory masking was removed as a courthouse policy only last week, Mehta , cognizance of the long clear road ahead , Ordered all parties to maintain the use of face coverings inside their courtrooms in an effort to avoid the outbreak.

Prosecutors say Rhodes, Meggs, Harrelson and Caldwell, who were key players in a concerted effort to prevent Joe Biden from taking the presidency, have been working to oppose a peaceful transfer of power in the days following the election. and were preparing to take up arms against the government. Call them for help.

Defense lawyers have argued that their clients were largely in Washington, D.C. on January 6 to provide aid and protection to high-profile speakers at pro-Trump rallies, not to overthrow the government. .

The Alexandria City Sheriff’s Office, which manages the prison where Rhodes is being held, says it does not discuss medical information on a person, some inmates who recently tested positive for COVID-19 has done. “To reduce the risk of further spread, those inmates as well as those living in the same housing units are being isolated,” the office said.

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