Stewart Rhodes, founder of the ultra militia Oath Keepers (Oath Keepers), was found guilty last night of seditious conspiracy for the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021: the attempted coup instigated by Donald Trump to try to annul the result of the presidential elections of November 2020.
A Washington jury found Rhodes guilty after two months of trial against a total of five leaders of the same violent group. Of the other four, only the head of the gang in Florida, Kelly Meggs, was also found responsible for a crime of seditious conspiracy, an accusation from which Kenneth Harrelson, also from Florida, was acquitted; Thomas Caldwell, from Virginia, and Jessica Watkins, from Ohio. Each count of seditious conspiracy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The five defendants were also sentenced for obstruction of an official procedure: specifically, the certification of the Congress of the results of the elections.
The twelve members of the jury reached their verdict after three days of deliberations in what until now constitutes the most important of the trials held against the authors and those responsible for the assault on the Capitol, resulting in nine deaths.
With 900 suspects arrested and a hundred of them sentenced to prison terms, this is the first time that the jury has decided to convict any of the inmates – two – for sedition. The ruling represents a major victory for Attorney General and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The court presided over by federal judge Amit Mehta will specify the sentences against those convicted yesterday next spring.
Stewart Rhodes, a former army paratrooper and Yale law graduate, was not physically present at the 9-6 coup but, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, led there “an armed rebellion to destroy the foundations of American democracy.” With other members of the gang as pawns, Rhodes planned the offensive on the Capitol convinced that, as he said in a conversation intercepted by the police, it would be “a bloody and desperate fight.”