Oath Keepers Leader Found Guilty In Seditious Conspiracy Trial

November 29, 2022

A jury has found Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy linked to his and other Oath Keepers’ actions during the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol and the plot to overturn the 2020 Presidential election.

One other Oath Keeper, Kelly Meggs, the head of the Florida chapter of the extremist organization, was also found guilty of seditious conspiracy.

All five defendants—Rhodes, Meggs, Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell—were found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding.

Seditious conspiracy is defined as attempting to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States.” It is rarely prosecuted; however, last month the former leader of another extremist group, Jeremy Bertino of the Proud Boys, pled guilty to seditious conspiracy for his connections to the January 6 insurrection.

Watkins, Harrelson and Caldwell were found not guilty of seditious conspiracy in the Oath Keepers’ trial.

Prosecutors had argued Rhodes and the other defendants had repeatedly called for the violent overthrow of the United States government, and they followed these words with action” on January 6 by taking part in the insurrection—with Rhodes at the helm.

They presented evidence showing the defendants discussing the possible use of violence in the run-up to January 6 in an attempt to keep Joe Biden out of the White House. They also showed how the Oath Keepers had stashed a massive cache of weapons referred to as a “quick reaction force” at a Virginia hotel.

On January 6, Oath Keepers wearing battle gear could be see shoving through the mob into the Capitol while Rhodes remained outside—like “a general surveying his troops on a battlefield,” said one prosecutor.

Defense attorneys had argued that the fact that the cache of weapons stored in the Virginia hotel were never even brought into the city of Washington supports their argument that they had only planned to provide security on January 6 for high-profile conservatives like Roger Stone.

The jury, made up of seven men and five women, weighed 10 charges altogether, including three separate conspiracy charges, obstructing the electoral college vote, and tampering with evidence.

Upon sentencing, Rhodes and Meggs could each face up to 20 years in federal prison.

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