Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes has pleaded not guilty to the charge of “seditious conspiracy.”
Rhodes, and ten other members of the organization, were arrested and charged with the extreme offense over their roles in the January 6 protest at the Capitol.
“A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment yesterday, which was unsealed today, charging 11 defendants with seditious conspiracy and other charges for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, which disrupted a joint session of the U.S. Congress that was in the process of ascertaining and counting the electoral votes related to the presidential election,” the Justice Department said in a press release about the arrests.
On Tuesday, Rhodes and most of his co-defendants entered pleas of “not guilty” at a preliminary hearing before a federal judge in Washington, D.C.
If convicted of seditious conspiracy, Rhodes and the others potentially face up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors have claimed that Rhodes is “too dangerous” to be released on bond ahead of his 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.”
Rhodes’ attorney has said in a statement that the allegations are baseless.
“The bald-faced myth that anyone wanted to stop the certification is inexcusable,” attorney Jonathon Moseley said in a statement to The Hill. “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 DOJ claimed in a press release at the time of the arrests that, “the defendants conspired through a variety of manners and means, including: organizing into teams that were prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.; recruiting members and affiliates to participate in the conspiracy; organizing trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons, and supplies – including knives, batons, camouflaged combat uniforms, tactical vests with plates, helmets, eye protection, and radio equipment – to the Capitol grounds; breaching and attempting to take control of the Capitol grounds and building on Jan. 6, 2021, in an effort to prevent, hinder and delay the certification of the electoral college vote; using force against law enforcement officers while inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; continuing to plot, after Jan. 6, 2021, to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power, and using websites, social media, text messaging and encrypted messaging applications to communicate with co-conspirators and others.”
This case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Department of Justice National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the Northern District of Texas and the District of Arizona have also provided assistance.
Over 725 people have been arrested for the protest, from every state in the nation.