Oath Keepers leader pleads not guilty to seditious conspiracy charge
Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the right-wing Oath Keepers who was charged earlier this month with seditious conspiracy for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, pleaded not guilty to the various charges on Tuesday.
Rhodes and most of his co-defendants facing the sedition charge entered not guilty pleas at a preliminary hearing before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.
If convicted of the seditious conspiracy count, they face a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
The not guilty pleas were expected at this early stage of the proceedings, and all of the defendants could still plead guilty if federal prosecutors offer plea agreements.
The Justice Department is accusing Rhodes, a 56-year-old Yale University Law School graduate, with leading the alleged conspiracy to use force in order to deny President Biden the White House in the weeks after the November 2020 presidential election.
The grand jury indictment details his efforts to rally fellow Oath Keepers to travel to D.C. for the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. According to the charging documents, Rhodes’ preparations included purchasing thousands of dollars’ worth of firearms and weapons equipment and telling other militia members to prepare themselves for violence.
During the attack on the Capitol, Rhodes reportedly remained outside the building while groups of Oath Keepers moved through the crowds in military-style “stack” formations and an armed “quick reaction force” remained just outside of D.C., awaiting an order to bring weapons to the mayhem.
Prosecutors last week argued that Rhodes should remain in jail while awaiting trial, telling a federal magistrate judge in Arizona that he is too dangerous to release on bond.
“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.”
An attorney for Rhodes told The Hill last week that the government’s accusations are baseless.
“The bald-faced myth that anyone wanted to stop the certification is inexcusable,” attorney Jonathon Moseley said in an emailed statement. “The claims in the detention motion of Stewart Rhodes — which apply to other Oath Keepers as well like Kelly Meggs — are 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.”
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.