Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four codependents face jury in high-profile January 6 trial

Washington – 17 of more than 870 individuals charged in connection with the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol have been charged with seditious conspiracy, the high offense of using force to prevent a peaceful transfer of power from then-President Donald Trump to Trump. Joe Biden.

Members of the far-right militia group Oath Keepers – including the group’s founder stewart rhodes — charged with this offense, which is the most serious that any defendant has faced on 6 January. They are the first group to go to trial on the charge. Jury selection began on Tuesday.

of Rhodes, Texas; Florida collaborators Kelly Meigs and Kenneth Harrelson; Jessica Watkins of Ohio; and Thomas Caldwell, Virginia, will prosecute Justice Department prosecutors with consistent records of convicting judges and juries alike in the January 6 defendants at trial. only a defendant So far in a case of 6 January, he has been completely acquitted of the charges leveled in the trial.

The sworn-in members are accused of conspiring to obstruct Congress’s certification of the 2020 presidential election results in support of Trump, traveling to the nation’s capital before January 6, and coordinating their movements during the riots.

The government alleged and would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the group’s planning, communication and coordination were important components of the chaos that occurred that day and were meant to obstruct the legitimate work of Congress.

Rhodes, who is not accused of actually entering the Capitol building, and his codependent have all pleaded not guilty and made several more unsuccessful attempts to have the charges dropped against them. delay in trial In the next year, even in the weeks before the test.

Charged with seditious conspiracy in January, Rhodes, the group’s founder and leader, described as an anti-government militia of extremists, has been accused of laying the groundwork for his actions in early November, 2020. Reportedly publishing a “call to action”. on his website.

Prosecutors wrote in the indictment that as of December, Rhodes’ rhetoric pointed to violence, allegedly sending a message to fellow Oath Keepers that if Mr. Biden were to take office, “it would be a bloody and desperate fight. We have to fight.” Will happen.”

Meggs and Rhodes reportedly wrote in messages around Christmas, 2020, that to be successful they would need to “intimidate” members of Congress, and a few days later, Caldwell called for a Washington, D.C., group to use Searched a hotel in the area. documents alleged.

At the hotel, prosecutors say, the group staged a “QRF,” a so-called rapid response force stockpiling weapons and other supplies outside the Washington, D.C., city limits. And by January, Caldwell had reportedly mapped a route between the group’s hotel and the Capitol building, according to court documents.

On the morning of January 6, when the defendants traveled to the Washington area, prosecutors alleged that some of the group left for the city wearing war garb and tactical gear. Later, as the Capitol attack was underway and the group was reportedly coordinating with messaging apps and radio, Rhodes has painted the rioters as “patriots”.

Two separate groups of oath-takers reportedly made their way into the Capitol building.

Meggs, Harrelson and Watkins are accused of being part of a group that marched east of the Capitol, eventually joining the crowd that allegedly pushed against law enforcement and later the search for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Of. Rhodes and Caldwell were reportedly on the Capitol grounds around that time.

A second group of oath-takers have also alleged conspiracy to treason to allegedly dissolve the Capitol and will be tried next month.

Prosecutors say that in the weeks following the attack, Rhodes bought firearms and sent messages to others about continuing to oppose Mr Biden’s presidency, including the alleged use of “local militias”.

The defendants have made several defenses for their actions and denied wrongdoing as of January 6.

Some sworn-in defendants charged with seditious conspiracy have argued that they were not in D.C. to attack the Capitol, but to provide security to some high-profile individuals in the former president’s camp. original message free An April court filing revealed he was asked to serve as a protective detail for Trump aide Roger Stone and “Stop the Steel” rally organizer Ali Alexander.

Harrelson’s attorney Bradford L. “Ken Harrelson spent 569 days in solitary confinement under horrific circumstances for a crime he did not commit,” Geyer said in a statement to CBS News. False allegations.”

The House Select Committee to investigate January 6 will hold its ninth hearing on Wednesday, as some defense lawyers raise concerns that the hype surrounding the ongoing hearing could tarnish a jury and prevent a fair trial, and Heavy evidence in the case can keep defendants’ lawyers from presenting an effective case for their clients without much time to prepare.

Lawyers for Rhodes, Meghan, Watkins and Caldwell did not respond to a request for comment ahead of the proceedings.

Judge Amit Mehta, who was appointed to a federal bench by President Barack Obama in 2014, will preside over the jury trial, which is expected to last several weeks. The judge has said he plans to select about 150 potential jurors to form a group of twelve qualified, impartial jurors to hear evidence. He has dismissed defendants’ concerns that finding an unbiased group of jurors would be difficult and rejected attempts to move the trial from DC, citing the previous January 6 trials.

At Mehta’s direction, the jury will be semi-indexed, meaning they will meet each day at an undisclosed location before going to court, entering through a guarded door to avoid public and media attention. Like the jury in any other trial, they will be instructed to avoid media coverage of the trial and prohibited from conducting their own independent research.

Since accusing the group of five and their codependents with conspiracy to commit treason, the Justice Department has secured guilty pleas and cooperation agreements to three individuals linked to the oath-taking. One of the individuals, North Carolina Other Keepers leader William Wilson, told prosecutors that on the evening of January 6, Rhodes repeatedly called an unnamed person over the phone to “forcibly summon groups like President Trump’s swearing-in.” Asked for. Oppose the transfer of power.”

If convicted on a charge of seditious conspiracy, Rhodes and his codependent face a maximum prison term of 20 years.

earlier this month, Attorney Kelly Sorel, who led the Oath Keepers following Rhodes’ arrest, was arrested and charged with blaming herself for the January 6 violations. He has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

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