Prosecutors on Wednesday made their closing arguments in Washington DC’s federal court in the case of four members of the far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers.
Federal prosecutor Louis Manzo urged the jury to convict the defendants of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the January 6, 2021 insurrection against the U.S. Capitol and the attempt to overthrow the 2020 Presidential election.
“The defendants could not let the election stand. They could not let Biden come to power,” Manzo told the jury.
Manzo pointed across the room to defendants Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, David Moerschel and Edward Vallejo, and accused the men of upending America’s two-century record of “the routine peaceful transfer of power.”
“Our democracy was under attack, but for these defendants, it was everything they trained for,” he asserted.
Seditious conspiracy is defined as attempting to “overthrow, put down or to destroy by force the government of the United States.” It has been rarely prosecuted until this past year.
On November 29, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and the the head of the Florida chapter of the extremist organization Kelly Meggs were both found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the January 6 insurrection. Upon sentencing, they could each face up to 20 years in federal prison.
In October Jeremy Bertino, the former leader of another extremest group, the Proud Boys, pled guilty to seditious conspiracy for his connections to the January 6 insurrection. And last week the seditious conspiracy trial of current Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other leaders began related to the roles they played on January 6.
Defense attorneys for the four Oath Keepers currently on trial deny that their clients hatched a plot to block the certification of the 2020 election. They say prosecutors have cherry-picked evidence to present a misleading narrative.
Four people died during the violence that ensued on January 6, and five police officers died afterwards. Another 140 or so officers were injured, and the Capitol sustained millions of dollars in damage.