trial of five Oath Keepers accused of plotting against the government to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results during the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.
Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and four other members of the right-wing militia group face the most serious charges brought so far in relation to the attack on the Capitol, chief among them a seditious conspiracy charge.
The stakes are high for the Justice Department, which hasn’t tried a seditious conspiracy case in a decade nor won a guilty verdict since 1995, when Islamic militants who plotted to bomb New York City landmarks were prosecuted.
A guilty verdict could serve as a warning to government dissenters that violent acts against the U.S. will be punished. But an acquittal could undermine the Justice Department’s narrative that the events of Jan. 6 endangered democracy – and embolden the militia movement.
The Oath Keepers on trial also face charges of obstructing – and conspiring to obstruct – an official proceeding, conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging duties, destruction of government property, civil disorder and tampering with documents or proceedings.
During the seven-week trial, prosecutors have painted the defendants as embattled extremists willing to stop at nothing to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden. But defense attorneys for the Oath Keepers on trial have claimed that the government’s depiction of the defendants is inaccurate.
Oath Keepers’ words used against them in government’s closing remarks.