In the United States, a trial has begun against members of the Oath Keeper group who were present at the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2020, when they tried to block the certification of Joe Biden as US President by Congress. It was They deny the charge for which they have been charged: seditious conspiracy.
Jeffrey Nestler, an assistant federal prosecutor, argued in a trial launched against the extremist group Oath Keepers that its founder, Stewart Rhodes, and four other associates planned an “armed insurrection” in an attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, against then-President Donald Trump. To keep Trump in power.
According to the prosecutor, the purpose of Rhodes and his gang was to “prevent by any means the lawful transfer of presidential power, including the taking up of arms against the government of the United States of America”, and noted that they sought to “destroy the foundations of an American democracy”. plan for armed insurrection.”
These are the first accused of the day to be tried on the charge of conspiracy to commit treason, which dates back to the Civil War and carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years. The last time the Justice Department achieved such a conviction was in a trial 30 years ago.
“Overthrow, Abolish or Abolish Congress”
Prosecutors told the jury that the rebellion was not a spontaneous outburst of anger over the election result, but part of an elaborate plan whose sole purpose was to prevent Joe Biden from reaching the White House.
Nestler referred to the fact that in November 2020, Rhodes sent his followers a detailed plan that was based on a popular uprising in Yugoslavia 20 years earlier, and that the rhetoric of the chief of the Oath Keepers had become more violent and desperate.
During an interview in December, Rhodes called the senators “traitors” and warned that those taking the oath would have to “overthrow, repeal or abolish Congress.”
But Rhodes’ defense attorney Philip Linder painted a different picture, describing the group as a “peacekeeping” force. According to him, the prosecutor’s office built the case on the basis of evidence selected from messages and videos. “The story the government is trying to tell today is completely wrong,” he said.
The lawyer also said that “Rhodes had no intention of harming the Capitol that day” and was merely preparing for expected orders from Trump, which never came.
On trial for the events of January 6, 2020
Nearly 900 people have been charged and hundreds more sentenced for the events of Jan. 6, when rioters tried to interfere with the certification of Joe Biden as president, stormed the Capitol’s police barriers, ransacking agents’ They engaged in hand-to-hand combat, broke windows, and entered the building where Congress was in full session, causing panic among Congressmen.
Prosecutor Nestler said the oath-keepers also stormed the Capitol wearing helmets and other combat gear, while Rhodes stood outside, like “a general watching over his soldiers on the battlefield”. After the attack, members of the group were “euphoric”, he said.
Rhodes wrote messages on 6 January that drew attention to the trial. “That patriots enter their own capitol to send a message to traitors is nothing compared to what is to come” was one of them.
$17,000 in arms and ammunition
Ahead of Biden’s inauguration, prosecutors said Rhodes spent about $17,000 on firearms, ammunition and other items and ordered the Oath Keepers chief to organize a militia to oppose the Democrat’s nomination.
In its statement, the prosecutor’s office said, “These defendants were waging a war and won a war on January 6th, but they plan to continue that war to prevent the transfer of power before Inauguration Day.” Since, their plan failed.” Logic.
The defense says former President Donald Trump aide Roger Stone went to Washington for the sole purpose of providing security at the events, and that members of the group tasked with attacking the Capitol did so. .
In addition to Rhodes, the Florida leader of the Oath Keepers, Kelly Meigs; Kenneth Harrelson, also from Florida; Thomas Caldwell, a US Navy intelligence officer, and Jessica Watkins, who led a militia group from Ohio.
Meigs and Harrelson were the ones who led a group of seven men to the Capitol, where, according to the prosecutor’s office, they were specifically looking for the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.