The Justice Department has charged the leader of the Oath Keepers and 10 other members of the far-right militia group with seditious conspiracy for the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
On Thursday (Jan. 13), Stewart Rhodes, leader and founder of the Oath Keepers, was arrested in Little Elm, Texas. The indictment alleges that he and his co-conspirators engaged in a conspiracy to “oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power by force, by preventing, hindering, or delaying by force execution of laws governing the transfer of power.”
“Beginning in late December 2020, via encrypted and private communications applications, Rhodes and various co-conspirators coordinated and planned to travel to Washington, D.C., on or around Jan. 6, 2021, the date of the certification of the electoral college vote,” the indictment alleges. “Rhodes and several co-conspirators made plans to bring weapons to the area to support the operation. The co-conspirators then traveled across the country to the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area in early January 2021.”
The charge carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison for anyone who is found guilty of conspiring to use force “to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law” in America.
Rhodes admitted to being present during the riot, but denied entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. However, members of the Oath Keepers were seen using a military formation to move through the crowd and enter the Capitol. They were also seen wearing paramilitary gear.
Prosecutors say Rhodes corresponded with other members of the right-wing militia group to travel to Washington, D.C. for the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6, 2021. Following the 2020 presidential election, the Oath Keepers leader allegedly promised in private discussions to use force if President Joe Biden were sworn into office. “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit,” he allegedly wrote in an encrypted note to other Oath Keepers in Nov. 2020.