National Security

Prosecutors say Oath Keepers leader is too dangerous to be released on bond

Federal prosecutors moved to deny bond for Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the right-wing Oath Keepers who was charged last week with seditious conspiracy for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, telling a judge that he poses a flight risk and is a danger to the community.

In a brief filed in Texas federal district court Thursday night, prosecutors asked a judge to order Rhodes be kept in jail while he awaits trial.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Rhodes organized a plot to oppose by force the execution of the laws of the United States and that he possesses the willingness and capacity to continue to engage in criminal conduct,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “Under these circumstances, only pretrial detention can protect the community from the danger Rhodes poses.”

Jonathon Moseley, a lawyer representing Rhodes, called the detention motion claims “fiction.” 

“We know that the prosecutors know that what they claim is totally false. We have the documents. We have the videos. The prosecutors know that we know that they know that their narrative is a John Grisham novel, totally false. I wish US Attorney Matthew Graves luck in finding a literary agent for this work of fiction,” Moseley added.

Last week’s indictment against the Oath Keepers leader and a group of alleged co-conspirators is the Justice Department’s most ambitious prosecution stemming from the Capitol riot to date. If convicted, Rhodes and others face a possibility of up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Rhodes, a 56-year-old Yale Law graduate, rallied members of his group to use violence to deny President Biden the White House in the weeks after the 2020 presidential election.

“We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit,” Rhodes allegedly said in one encrypted message to other Oath Keepers in November 2020.

The militia leader also allegedly spent nearly $40,000 on firearms and weapons equipment in the weeks before and after the Capitol riot.

Prosecutors argued Thursday night that Rhodes’s access to guns, combined with his flight risk while awaiting trial and the potential that he would tamper with witnesses who could support the case against him, support keeping him detained while the court proceedings move forward.

“Under any of those three bases—firearms, flight, and tampering—a detention hearing is warranted,” the detention memo reads. “And together, those three features illustrate the need to detain Rhodes pending trial to protect the community, ensure his return to court, and safeguard the integrity of evidence and the proceedings.”

A detention hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday.

Updated: 11:21 a.m.

National Security