Stewart Rhodes, the founding father of the far-right Oath Keepers militia, was sentenced on Thursday to 18 years in jail, after being convicted of seditious conspiracy for his position within the January 6 assault on Congress.
Prosecutors sought a 25-year time period. Attorneys for Rhodes mentioned he needs to be sentenced to time served, since his arrest in January 2022.
Earlier than handing down the sentence, the US district choose, Amit Mehta, instructed a defiant Rhodes he posed a continued menace to the US authorities, saying it was clear he “needs democracy on this nation to devolve into violence”.
“The second you’re launched, every time that could be, you’ll be able to take up arms in opposition to your authorities,” Mehta mentioned.
Rhodes claimed the prosecution was politically motivated.
“I’m a political prisoner and like President Trump my solely crime is opposing those that are destroying our nation,” he mentioned.
Rhodes additionally famous that he by no means went contained in the Capitol on January 6 and insisted he by no means instructed anybody else to take action.
However members of the Oath Keepers took an lively position on 6 January 2021, when a mob incited by Donald Trump smashed its means into the Capitol, trying to cease certification of Joe Biden’s election win.
Prosecutors efficiently made the case that Rhodes and his group ready an armed insurrection, together with stashing arms at a Virginia resort, meant for fast switch to Washington DC.
Different members of the Oath Keepers, some convicted of seditious conspiracy, are resulting from be sentenced this week and subsequent. Members of one other far-right group, the Proud Boys, will face sentencing on related convictions later this 12 months.
9 deaths have been linked to the January 6 assault, together with suicides amongst regulation enforcement. Greater than 1,000 arrests have been made and greater than 500 convictions secured.
In court docket filings within the Oath Keepers instances, prosecutors mentioned: “The justice system’s response to January 6 bears the weighty accountability of impacting whether or not January 6 turns into an outlier or a watershed second.”
Like all different types of Trump’s tried election subversion, the assault on Congress failed. Within the aftermath, Trump was impeached for a second time, for inciting an revolt. He was acquitted by Senate Republicans.
Laying out Trump’s actions after the 2020 election, the Home January 6 committee made 4 legal referrals to the justice division. The previous president nonetheless faces potential indictments in state and federal investigations of his election subversion and position within the assault on Congress. Nonetheless, he stays the clear frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination subsequent 12 months.
At Thursday’s listening to, talking for the prosecution, the assistant US legal professional Kathryn Rakoczy pointed to interviews and speeches Rhodes has given from jail repeating Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen and saying the 2024 election can be stolen too.
In remarks simply days in the past, Rhodes known as for “regime change”, Rakoczy mentioned.
Individuals “throughout the political spectrum” need to consider January 6 was an “outlier”, Rakoczy mentioned. “Not defendant Rhodes.”
A protection lawyer, Phillip Linder, denied Rhodes gave orders for Oath Keepers to enter the Capitol on January 6. However he instructed the choose Rhodes might have had many extra Oath Keepers come to the Capitol “if he actually wished” to disrupt certification of the electoral school vote.
In a primary for a January 6 case, Choose Mehta agreed with prosecutors to use enhanced penalties for “terrorism” beneath the argument that the Oath Keepers sought to affect the federal government by way of “intimidation or coercion”.
Judges in earlier sentencings had shot down the justice division request for the so-called “terrorism enhancement”, which may result in an extended jail time period, however Mehta mentioned it fitted Rhodes’s case.
“Mr Rhodes directed his co-conspirators to return to the Capitol they usually abided,” the choose mentioned.
Requested if Mehta’s acceptance of the enhancement boded sick for others discovered responsible of seditious conspiracy, Carl Tobias, a regulation professor on the College of Richmond, Virginia, mentioned prosecutors “argued that the choose ought to apply the enhancement as a result of the ‘want to discourage others is very robust as a result of these defendants engaged in acts that had been meant to affect the federal government by way of intimidation or coercion – in different phrases, terrorism’.
“The choose then acknowledged, ‘It’s laborious to say it doesn’t apply when somebody is convicted of seditious conspiracy.’
“Mehta apparently accepted that argument in imposing the sentence right this moment and will effectively apply it to others who’ve been convicted of seditious conspiracy, as he has heard the proof offered.”