WASHINGTON Two days following Election Day in 2020, Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers militia sent an urgent encrypted message to senior members of his group, advising the group to not let Joseph R. Biden Jr. gain access to the White House.
“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war,” the writer wrote.
In announcing their opening argument during the case of. Rhodes and four other members of the Oath Keepers for conspiracy to seditious federal prosecutors stated they believed that Monday’s statement was the first move in a broader attempt to block the transfer of power to presidents and also to leverage the power of the militias of the far right to ensure that the presidency of President Donald J. Trump in his position.
In the following two months during which time over the next two months. Rhodes riled up and engaged a plethora of Oath Keepers to join in his plot according to the prosecution, and eventually used them in Washington along the River in Virginia to stop the officialization of Jan. 6th, 2021 of Biden’s victory. Biden’s election victory.
“Ever since our government transferred power from George Washington to John Adams in the year 1797, we have had a core custom of routine and peaceful transfer of power,” Jeffrey S. Nestler prosecutor declared at Federal District Court in Washington.
“These defendants tried to change that history,” Mr. Nestler went on. “They concocted a plan for an armed rebellion to shatter a bedrock of democracy.”
He. Rhodes and his four associates were the initial defendants within the huge investigation into the Capitol attack to stand trial on the charges of seditious conspiracies which harks back to the efforts of the Union to defend the government from seceding rebels throughout the Civil War.
The trial, scheduled to last between four and six weeks, will serve as both an overview of the workings of Oath Keepers as well as a type of test case to determine the sedition conspiracy accusation. This is the most serious charge that the government has brought thus in the past against anyone of more than 900 individuals charged with the Capitol attack.
During the trial, the prosecutors will use Mr. Rhodes’s words -in meetings via virtual and letters to his fellow members as well as encrypted text messages to demonstrate how the former president was fiercely opposed to Mr. Biden’s win in November and grew convinced that his group must work to stop him from. Trump from losing power.
The plot, Ms. Nestler said, culminated on Jan. 6 when more than dozen people belonging to the Oath Keepers walked through military-style “stacks” into the Capitol within the Capitol — and some of them departed to search for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The other members of the Oath Keepers, said Mr. Nestler added, were assigned as a “quick reaction force” at the Comfort Inn Hotel in Arlington, Va. — across the Potomac River from Washington -to be ready in the event that things go wrong.
Another crucial element of the trial is the Oath Keeper’s connection with Trump. Trump, is a man they have often backed in the presidential race despite their anti-government beliefs.
In his opening statement, Phillip Linder, Mr. Rhodes’s attorney, stated that Mr. Rhodes and his subordinates did not plan an unlawful attack on authorities in January. 6. Instead the lawyer. Linder said the Oath Keepers were waiting for President. Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act — an action, they argue would have granted the group the right to act as an army to use forces of arms in the direction of the president. Trump.
In a statement, he called the Oath Keepers a “peacekeeping force,” Mr. Linder also argued that the group didn’t go on a trip to Washington in January. 6 to take over the Capitol instead, but to protect politicians and speakers at the rallies during the week.
“Even though it may look inflammatory,” Mr. Linder told the jury, “they did nothing illegal.”
Due to the nature of Oath Keepers’s defense as well as the amount of evidence provided by the government The trial is likely to concentrate less on disputes about what the group did during the weeks and days prior to the date of Jan. 6. It is more likely to focus on the issue of why they took the actions they did.
The government claims it is the case that. Rhodes and his four co-defendants -four co-defendants – Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell had a plan to apply force against the federal government and conducted their assault even the fact though the president was not involved. Trump never did invoke the Insurrection Act.
The defense claims they are of the opinion that Oath Keepers would not be seditiously seeking to block the transfer of power due to the belief in the Insurrection Act would allow them to seek Mr. Trump’s side legally.
Although the seditious conspiracy statute typically prohibits plans to overthrow the authority and impose a dictatorship, it is not a bar to plots that would overthrow the government. Rhodes and co-defendants have been accused of using force in order to hinder the implementation of federal laws — in this instance that is it was the 12th Amendment and the Electoral Count Act of 1887 that both govern the transfer of power to the president.
The defendants were charged with two more conspiracy charges. They are accused of plotting to interfere with the approval process at the beginning of Jan. 6. Another accuses them of planning to stop federal officials from performing their duties during that time.
The majority of the evidence the government plans to use has been revealed in the last few weeks in court documents and in hearings and includes details like the patch that Mr. Meggs wore on Jan. 6 that reads: “I don’t believe in anything. I’m here for the violence.”
Any new evidence that emerges during the trial is likely to be revealed through the testimony of witnesses cooperating with the trial which includes at least three who have already confessed to charges of sedition. The government may also present witnesses from informants who had been watching the group’s activities prior to the month of Jan. 6.
A witness the witness, the witness. Nestler said, was with Mr. Rhodes on Jan. 10, 2021. On the day the witness, it was said by Mr. Nestler said, the Oath Keepers leadership had a meeting with an unidentified person who Mr. Rhodes asked to convey an address to Trump. Trump, explained that the fight for his White House was not over. A witness described the meeting when Mr. Rhodes could be heard commenting that the rioters at the Capitol were not carrying weapons.
“My only regret is that they should have brought rifles,” Mr. Rhodes said, adding, “We could have fixed it right there and then.”
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