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Oath Keepers leader Rhodes sentenced to 18 years for Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy

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About time we started seeing some appropriate sentences for these seditionists and traitors.

Really looking forward to Trump's indictment and trial for this.


Stewart Rhodes’s sentence is the longest given to any of the hundreds of people found guilty of involvement in the pro-Trump riot.

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday in the first punishment to be handed down for seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

The sentence is the longest given to any of the hundreds of people found guilty of involvement in the pro-Trump riot.

“You sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country, to the republic and the very fabric of our democracy,” Judge Amit P. Mehta told Rhodes. “The moment you are released you will be prepared to take up arms against your government.”

The judge said he had never before expressed such a belief about a defendant appearing in his court. He described Rhodes, who founded his far-right, anti-government group in 2009, as a disturbingly charismatic figure who manipulated dozens of his followers into coming to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.

“They too are victims, victims of the lies, the propaganda, the rhetoric and ultimately the intention that you conveyed,” Mehta said.

In a lengthy address to the court before the sentence was read, Rhodes, 58, did not dispute that he was a key figure in the right-wing firmament. He cast his conviction as part of a left-wing plot that included the Biden administration, the media and anti-fascist activists.

“I’m a political prisoner, and like President Trump, my only crime is opposing those who are destroying our country,” he told the court. Comparing himself to Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, he promised that from prison he would “expose the criminality of this regime.”

Before Rhodes’s punishment, no Jan. 6 defendant who did not assault police had been sentenced to more than eight years in prison, and only one man had been sentenced to more than a decade — Peter Schwartz received just over 14 years after assaulting four officers with a dangerous weapon and had 38 prior convictions. Rhodes assaulted no one; in court Thursday he called the testimony of officers wounded in the riot “heart-rending,” but “bizarre” and “offensive” to include in his case.

But Mehta said seditious conspiracy is “among the most serious crimes an individual American can commit,” more dangerous than a single assaultive act.

The five defendants convicted of seditious conspiracy over the past two decades were all sentenced to at least 10 years on that count. Those defendants were all accused of supporting Islamic terrorist groups. Counter-extremism experts say that the Oath Keepers and allied groups now pose one of the most significant threats to U.S. national security by promoting a fringe view that private militia groups have a constitutional right under the Second Amendment to violently oppose the government.

“Violent rebellion because you don’t like the results of an election is anathema to our Constitution,” said Mary McCord, who headed the Justice Department’s national security division for the first several months of the Trump presidency. “Eighteen years is a significant sentence and sends a strong message of deterrence.”

Rhodes, a top deputy and four others were found guilty at trials in November and January of plotting to unleash political violence, culminating in the attack on the Capitol as Congress met to confirm the 2020 election results. Three co-defendants were acquitted of that count but convicted of obstructing Congress, among other crimes.

Rhodes and followers dressed in combat-style gear converged on the Capitol after staging an “arsenal” of weapons at nearby hotels, ready to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction, prosecutors said. Rhodes did not enter the building but was in contact with “ground team” leader Kelly Meggs, an auto dealer manager, just before Meggs led a line of members in military-style tactical gear up the East Capitol steps, where they helped a crowd force entry.

Attorneys for Rhodes asked for a sentence of time served, about 16 months, for the former Army paratrooper and Yale law graduate. They argued that if Rhodes wanted to fight a civil war, he could have called thousands of armed Oath Keepers to Washington; instead only two small groups entered the Capitol and did not bring weapons or assault officers.\

“J6 still would have happened just as it did” without the Oath Keepers’ presence, defense attorney Philip Linder said on Thursday. Nor was Rhodes the origin of claims that the election was illegitimate, Linder said: “He’s not the one who started that rhetoric and got the American people ginned up.”

Rhodes said, as he did at trial, that the Oath Keepers came to Washington as bodyguards for Republican VIPs and brought firearms only to help act as “peacekeepers” in case Trump met their demand to invoke the Civil War-era Insurrection Act and mobilize a private militia to stop Biden from becoming president. Entering the Capitol was a spur-of-the-moment decision he did not approve, he said.

But prosecutors presented evidence that after networks declared the election for Biden on Nov. 7, 2020, Rhodes asked a chat group that included Trump confidante Roger Stone and Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio — “What’s the plan?” and shared a Serbian academic’s proposal for storming Congress. Over the next two months, Rhodes amplified Trump’s bogus stolen election claims and used his platform as one of the extremist anti-government movement’s most visible leaders to urge followers to be ready for an “armed rebellion” and “bloody civil war,” pressing Trump both publicly and privately to use the military to hold on to power against Democratic opponents.

Prosecutors said the Oath Keepers’ words and actions demonstrated tacit agreement to take advantage of the Capitol riot to further an illegal plot proposed in public and private by Rhodes, who warned repeatedly before Jan. 6 that “bloody civil war” was necessary if the election results were not overturned, with or without Trump.

“We will have to rise up in insurrection (rebellion)” if Trump does not act, Rhodes texted one associate on Dec. 10. Four days after Jan. 6, Rhodes was recorded telling another that if Trump was “just gonna let himself be removed illegally, then we should have brought rifles,” and, “We could have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang f----ing Pelosi from the lamppost,” referring to then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Mehta referred to that comment at sentencing, as well as a speech Rhodes gave warning of a potential “bloodbath” after a 2014 armed standoff between ranchers and federal agents in Oregon.

“For years, its clear that you have wanted the democracy in this country to devolve into violence and you have thought that violence is an acceptable means of accomplishing your ends,” Mehta said.

Convicted of seditious conspiracy in addition to Rhodes and Meggs were Roberto Minuta of Prosper, Tex.; Joseph Hackett of Sarasota, Fla.; David Moerschel of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Edward Vallejo of Phoenix.

Convicted of other crimes were Kenneth Harrelson, a former Army sergeant from Titusville, Fla., Jessica Watkins, another Army veteran and bar owner from Woodstock, Ohio; and Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer who stayed outside the building but hosted other defendants at his farm in Berryville, Va.

All are to be sentenced over the next nine days except for Caldwell, whose sentencing was postponed to review a defense motion to reconsider some of his convictions.


Edited by homersapien
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2 hours ago, CoffeeTiger said:

If you're wondering how he got the eye patch, he shot his own eye out when he dropped his .22 handgun one day.  

I thought he shot it out on Christmas Day with a Red Rider BB gun.

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