Jury choice is scheduled to get underway Tuesday for the trial of Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes and 4 different members of the right-wing militia group charged with seditious conspiracy in reference to the Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol.
Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell are charged with conspiring to “oppose by pressure the lawful switch of presidential energy,” in accordance with the federal government’s sweeping indictment, which was unsealed earlier this yr.
The largest cost, seditious conspiracy — making an attempt “to overthrow, put down or to destroy by pressure the federal government of the US” — carries a most 20-year jail sentence.
All 5 have pleaded not responsible, and Rhodes’ attorneys have indicated that he plans to argue he wasn’t plotting something unlawful — he was simply making an attempt to organize his members to take motion if then-President Donald Trump activated “militias” by invoking the Rebel Act of 1807.
“They weren’t there to storm the Capitol, to cease the certification, to take over the Authorities,” Rhodes’ legal professionals argued in court docket papers. “They have been ready for President Trump to invoke the Rebel Act.”
Prosecutors stated the alleged conspiracy began in early November 2020, because it grew to become clear that Trump had misplaced the presidential election. “We aren’t getting by way of this with no civil warfare. It’s too late for that. Put together your thoughts, physique, spirit,” Rhodes wrote in an encrypted group chat on Nov. 5, 2020, two days after the election, in accordance with the indictment.
Prosecutors stated Rhodes helped arrange “fast response forces,” a few of them at a resort in close by Virginia.
“Rhodes stood on the heart of the seditious conspiracy — orchestrating plans to make use of pressure, recruiting and financing co-conspirators, buying weaponry and tactical gear, inciting assist and motion, and endeavoring to hide his and different coconspirators’ crimes,” prosecutors stated in a court docket submitting.
Rhodes unsuccessfully tried to delay the trial for 90 days this month, arguing he’d had a “full, or near-complete breakdown of communication” along with his attorneys and wished a brand new lawyer to signify him. The U.S. district choose presiding over the case in Washington, D.C., Amit Mehta, denied the request however stated the brand new lawyer may be part of Rhodes’ protection staff.
“We are able to make room. We’ve received sufficient tables,” Mehta stated at a court docket listening to Sept. 7.
A pool of about 150 jurors have already stuffed out questionnaires, answering questions that included what they know in regards to the Oath Keepers and the riot on Jan. 6, 2021, whether or not they or anybody near them have been on the Capitol that day and whether or not they’ve watched any of the congressional hearings on the assault. The pool will begin to be whittled down Tuesday as potential jurors face questions from authorities prosecutors and legal professionals for the defendants.
The trial is predicted to final about six weeks.