Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right extremist group Oath Keepers, was arrested on Thursday for organizing a detailed plot to storm the Capitol last January 6 and prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election.
Rhodes and ten other members of the group were charged with seditious conspiracy – the first time that charge has been levied against January 6th defendants.
The charge of seditious conspiracy carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
The New York Times explains:
The Oath Keepers, along with the Proud Boys, have emerged as the most prominent far-right extremists to have taken part in the assault on the Capitol. Prosecutors have collected reams of evidence against them, including encrypted cellphone chats and recordings of online meetings. They have charged its members not only with forcing their way into the building in a military-style “stack,” but also with stationing an armed “quick reaction force” at a hotel in Virginia to be ready to rush into Washington if needed.
A press release from the Department of Justice offers more details on the charges:
According to the seditious conspiracy indictment, the defendants conspired through a variety of manners and means, including: organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.; recruiting members and affiliates to participate in the conspiracy; organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons and supplies – including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection and radio equipment – to the Capitol grounds; breaching and attempting to take control of the Capitol grounds and building on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote; using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; continuing to plot, after Jan. 6, 2021, to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power, and using websites, social media, text messaging and encrypted messaging applications to communicate with co-conspirators and others.
In a Wednesday interview with NorthWest Liberty News, Rhodes insisted that he didn’t break the law.
“I don’t do illegal activities. I always stay on this side of the line,” he said. “I know where the lines are, and it drives them crazy.”
He said the Department of Justice is aggressively “questioning all of our members across the country — even guys that didn’t go to D.C.”
He also expressed disillusionment with former President Donald Trump.
“All of the people that are being unlawfully detained or denied bail, they’re being abandoned by Trump. He’s done nothing for them. You know, he could donate money, he hasn’t even done that. He didn’t pardon anybody while he was still in office, and then when he left, he hasn’t raised money,” Rhodes said. “… I think he has abandoned his base, because he has abandoned the people who were there to protect his other supporters. So yes, I do feel abandoned by him.”