Judge denies bond for Oath Keepers leader charged with sedition
A judge has denied bond for Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the right-wing Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson issued an order on Wednesday that Rhodes must be detained as his trial is pending, arguing that his release “could endanger the safety and wellbeing of others.”
She pointed to Rhodes’ involvement in the Jan. 6 riot and evidence that he was planning for “a much more violent attack” in Washington, D.C. and argued that the defendant could easily seek refuge from custody and avoid being apprehended if released, all of which fueled her decision to deny him bail.
“Defendant’s authoritative role in the conspiracy, access to substantial weaponry, and ability to finance any future insurrection, combined with his continued advocacy for violence against the federal government, gives rise to a credible threat that Defendant’s release might endanger others by fostering the planning and execution of additional violent events,” Johnson wrote in the order.
“This is especially so given Defendant’s technical savvy, military training, and familiarity with encrypted communication; it is nearly impossible to effectively monitor communications made through encrypted messaging and video conferencing applications, which Defendant is known to use,” she added.
The judge also said there is “some evidence of a propensity towards violence in Defendant’s personal relationships.”
The decision by Johnson comes after prosecutors asked that Rhodes be kept in jail while awaiting trial, arguing that he presents a flight risk and is a danger to the community.
Justice Department lawyers said Rhodes has the “willingness and capacity” to continue engaging in criminal behavior.
“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,” the lawyers wrote in a brief last week.
“Under these circumstances, only pretrial detention can protect the community from the danger Rhodes poses.”
Jonathon Moseley, a lawyer representing Rhodes, at the time said the prosecution’s motion for detention was “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,” he said.
The Hill reached out to Rhodes’s attorneys for comment on his bail denial.
Rhodes was arrested and charged on Jan. 13, marking a significant point in the Justice Department’s efforts following the Jan. 6 attack. If convicted, the Oath Keepers leader faces up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors are alleging that Rhodes encouraged members of the Oath Keepers to use violence in an effort to prevent President Biden from assuming the White House following the 2020 presidential election.
In a November 2020 encrypted message to members of the Oath Keepers, Rhodes allegedly wrote “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit.”
He is also said to have purchased almost $40,000 worth of firearms and weapons equipment in the lead-up to and aftermath of the Capitol riot.
Updated: 7:50 p.m.
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