The leader of the Oath Keepers was found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the January 6 case

A charge that goes back to the federal government’s efforts to protect against Southern rebels during the Civil War, the insurgency conspiracy has been used over the years against a wide range of defendants—among them far-right militias, radical labor unions, and Puerto Rican nationalists. The last successful prosecution for sedition was in 1995, when a group of Islamic militants were found guilty of plotting to bomb several New York City landmarks.

The sedition case against the Oath Keepers began in Federal District Court in Washington in early October. in his opening statementJeffrey S. Nestler, one of the lead prosecutors, told the jury that in the weeks after Mr. Biden won the election, Mr. Rhodes and his subordinates “created a plan for armed insurrection to shatter the foundation of American democracy”: the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

Mr. Nestler also closed the government’s case last week by declaring that Oath Keepers conspired against Mr. Biden, ignoring both the law and the will of the voters because they hated the election results.

“They claimed to save the Republic,” he said, “but instead they broke it.”

Between those remarks, prosecutors showed jurors hundreds of encrypted text messages exchanged by members of the Oath Keepers, demonstrating that Mr. Rhodes and some of his followers were gripped by strange fears that Chinese agents had infiltrated the United States government and that Mr. Biden — a “puppet” of the Chinese Communist Party — may cede control of the country to the United Nations.

That’s what the messages showed Mr. Rhodes was obsessed with the left-wing movement known as antifa, which he says is allied with Mr. Biden’s incoming administration. At one point during the trial, Mr. Rhodes, who took the stand in his own defense, told the jury that he was convinced that antifa activists will storm the White Houseoverpower the Secret Service and forcibly remove Mr. Trump from the building if he does not concede defeat to Mr. Biden.

Prosecutors tried to show how Mr. Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper law degree from Yalebecame increasingly panicked as the election moved toward its final certification in a joint session of Congress on January 6. Under his leadership, the Oath Keepers — whose members are largely former law enforcement officers and military veterans — took part in two “Stop the Steal” rallies in Washington, providing security for the event and serving as bodyguards for pro-Trump dignitaries.

Throughout the period since the election, the jury was told, Mr Rhodes had been desperate to reach Mr Trump and persuade him to take extraordinary measures to retain power. In December 2020, he published two open letters to Mr. Trump on his website, asking the president to seize data from voting machines across the country that would allegedly prove the election was rigged.

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