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Prosecutors Make a Big Move in Capitol Riot Case

First charge of sedition is filed, against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 13, 2022 1:24 PM CST
First Charge of Sedition Filed Over Capitol Riot
Stewart Rhodes, founder of the citizen militia group known as the Oath Keepers, speaks during a rally outside the White House in 2017.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(Newser) – A big development in the investigation of the Capitol riot: Prosecutors filed their first charge of sedition on Thursday, reports the New York Times. Authorities indicted and arrested Stewart Rhodes, the 56-year-old founder of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers. The charge of seditious conspiracy alleges that Rhodes conspired with others to overturn the results of the 2020 election and take control of the Capitol. The AP calls Rhodes the highest-ranking member of any extremist group to be arrested so far. Rhodes was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but he says he never entered the building, and no evidence has surfaced to contradict that.

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Rhodes previously told the Washington Post that he was communicating with members of his group that day, but only to try to “keep them out of trouble." He added that any members of his group who entered the building “went totally off mission.” He made similar comments to the Times over the summer, saying, “There were zero instructions from me or leadership to do so.” Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper who went on to earn a law degree from Yale, was charged Thursday with about a dozen associates.

Among the allegations against Rhodes:

  • On Election Day, he allegedly urged Oath Keeper members to "stock up on ammo" and be ready for a "full-on war in the streets," according to a letter by House investigators.
  • During an online meeting shortly after the election, he allegedly said, “You can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight," per the Times.
  • He told Alex Jones days after the election that he had men near Washington poised to act on then-President Trump's command.
  • He said at a Trump rally in December that failure to invoke the Insurrection Act would lead to a "much more bloody war."
  • Two days before the riot, he allegedly posted an online article urging "all patriots" to “stand tall in support of President Trump’s fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic who are attempting a coup."
(Read more Oath Keepers stories.)

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