Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in jail on Thursday following a seditious conspiracy conviction in connection to the Jan. 6 riot.
That is the primary sentence handed right down to any defendant convicted of seditious conspiracy associated to Jan. 6 and represents the longest sentence given to any Jan. 6 defendant thus far.
Authorities prosecutors had been looking for a sentence of 25 years for Rhodes, who they are saying was the architect of a plot to forcibly disrupt the switch of presidential energy that included “fast response power” groups at a Virginia resort to ferry weapons into Washington, D.C., in the event that they have been wanted. The weapons have been by no means deployed.
Earlier than handing down the sentence, U.S. District Decide Amit P. Mehta addressed Rhodes immediately.
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“Mr. Rhodes, you’ve got been convicted of seditious conspiracy. You’re a lawyer. You perceive what which means,” the federal decide stated. “Among the many most severe crimes a person American can commit… an offense in opposition to the folks of our nation.”
“And what was the motive? You didn’t like the brand new man,” Mehta stated, noting that “simply because somebody supported the previous president doesn’t imply they’re a White nationalist.”
“Your solely remorse was you thought it is best to have introduced the weapons, and in case you had, you’ll have hung Nancy Pelosi from a lamppost,” Mehta stated.
The decide stated it’s clear Rhodes “needs democracy on this nation to devolve into violence.”
“The second you might be launched, at any time when that could be, you’ll be able to take up arms in opposition to your authorities,” Mehta stated.
“What we completely can not have is a bunch of residents… ready to take up arms with a purpose to foment a revolution, and that’s what you probably did,” the decide continued.
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“You requested them to arrange for struggle,” Mehta stated, referring to Rhodes’ instructions to fellow Oath Keepers.
In remarks shortly earlier than the decide handed down the sentence, Rhodes slammed the prosecution as politically motivated, noting that he by no means went contained in the Capitol and insisted he by no means informed anybody else to take action. “I’m a political prisoner and like President Trump my solely crime is opposing those that are destroying our nation,” Rhodes stated.
In a primary for a Jan. 6 case, Mehta agreed with prosecutors to use enhanced penalties for “terrorism,” beneath the argument that the Oath Keepers sought to affect the federal government by “intimidation or coercion.” Judges in earlier sentencings had shot down the Justice Division’s request for the so-called “terrorism enhancement” – which might result in an extended jail time period – however Mehta stated it matches in Rhodes’ case.
“You’re not a political prisoner, you’re right here for that conduct,” Mehta stated. “That was a jury of your friends, make no mistake about it.”
“I dare say all of us now maintain our collective breaths, each time an election is approaching,” the decide stated.
Mehta applauded regulation enforcement who responded to the riot on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
“The heroism of those that have been defending democracy as we all know it. They laid their our bodies on the road.… There’s no one extra emblematic of retaining oaths than these cops,” the decide stated. “You, sir, current an ongoing menace to the security of this nation.”
Assistant U.S. Legal professional Kathryn Rakoczy had pointed to interviews and speeches Rhodes has given from jail repeatedly alleging that the 2020 election “was stolen” and saying it might be once more in 2024. In remarks simply days in the past, Rhodes referred to as for “regime change,” the prosecutor stated.
A lawyer for Rhodes, who plans to enchantment his conviction, stated prosecutors are unfairly making an attempt to make Rhodes “the face” of Jan. 6. Legal professional Phillip Linder informed the decide that Rhodes might have had many extra Oath Keepers come to the Capitol “if he actually needed to” disrupt Congress’ certification of the Electoral Faculty vote.
“If you wish to put a face on J6, you place it on Trump, right-wing media, politicians, all of the individuals who spun that narrative,” Linder stated.
One other Oath Keeper convicted alongside Rhodes in November – Florida chapter chief Kelly Meggs – was anticipated to obtain his sentence later Thursday.
Two different Oath Keepers, acquitted of the sedition cost however convicted of different offenses, can be sentenced Friday. 4 different members discovered responsible of seditious conspiracy at a second trial in January are scheduled to be sentenced subsequent week.
Rhodes’ sentence could forecast what prosecutors will look for former Proud Boys nationwide chairman Enrique Tarrio, who was convicted of seditious conspiracy alongside different leaders of his far-right group this month for what prosecutors stated was a separate plot to dam the switch of presidential energy. The Proud Boys chief can be sentenced in August and September.
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