Oath Keepers leader and 10 others accused of ‘seditious conspiracy’

The latest charges — along with a charge that was not previously brought up in the department’s US Capitol attack indictments — remove any sense that prosecutors believe the riot just emerged from a group of overzealous protesters, Charged Capital with new details about planning and logistics have predicted the breach.

The Justice Department had so far been careful not to advance the idea of ​​treason, instead accusing defendants affiliated with right-wing groups of conspiracy to obstruct Congressional proceedings on January 6. But rarely used, politically loaded and has been difficult for the Justice Department to use successfully against defendants in the past.

The new indictment brings to light a plan the oath-takers are accused of committing prior to the Capitol attack, as they allegedly recruited members, stockpiled weapons and obstructed Congress’s certification of the 2020 election. Organized. Prosecutors say they continued to plot “to oppose the president’s legitimate transfer of power” after the Capital Riot failed to block the Electoral College vote, according to a Justice Department statement on Thursday.

According to the indictment, the One Oath Keeper claimed to have traveled to Washington, DC for a Scouting trip before January 6. The new court filing describes in detail the allegations that the defendants stored weapons in a Virginia hotel and were “rapidly transporting firearms and other weapons to Washington, D.C., to support efforts to block the presidential certification vote.” “Were ready for.

Rhodes was arrested on Thursday in Little Elm, Texas.

Opposing legitimate transfer of power allegedly ‘by force’

new charge, approved by a grand jury on Wednesday and made public on Thursday, alleged that Rhodes and his co-conspirators “forcefully delay the execution of laws that oppose, prevent, obstruct or govern the legitimate transfer of presidential power by force.” are engaged in a conspiracy to do so. Transfer of power.”

The latest court filing revealed that Oath Keeper Thomas Caldwell, who was arrested in January, claimed to have made a reconnaissance trip to DC before January 6. The indictment also puts forward previously undisclosed communications that Rhodes alleges prosecutors encouraged the use of force. To oppose the lawful transfer of power.

“We’re not going through this without a civil war. It’s too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, and spirit,” Rhodes reportedly said in a signal message on November 5, 2020. In December, Rhodes – according to the indictment – wrote about the Electoral College certification that “there is no standard political or legal way out of it.”

Prosecutors have previously said that Rhodes used the signal during the attack to communicate with other members of the oath-taking who were at the Capitol.

“I see Trump complaining. I see no intention of him doing anything,” Rhodes reportedly wrote. “So the patriots are taking it into their own hands. They have had enough,” he reportedly said at the signal at 1:38 p.m. that day, shortly after the siege began.

Additionally, the indictment states that Oath Keepers from three different states, including newly charged Edward Vallejo, kept weapons at a hotel in Virginia as part of a rapid reaction force.

,[Quick reaction force] “In support of operations intended to use force to prevent the lawful transfer of presidential power, firearms and other weapons were designed to be rapidly transported to Washington, D.C.,” the indictment said.

En route to DC on January 3, Rhodes reportedly purchased an AR-platform rifle and other firearms equipment, including sights, mounts, triggers, slings, and other firearms attachments, in Texas. The next day, he reportedly purchased more firearms equipment in Mississippi, including sights, mounts, an optic plate, and a magazine, according to the filing.

Accused of conspiracy before and after the Capitol attack

The Rhodes indictment runs through public and private statements made days after the election by the Oath Keeper leader, which prosecutors say uncovered a conspiracy to oppose the presidential transfer of power by force.

Those purported discussions include a November readout that Caldwell reached out to provide to Rhodes about a November 9 visit, which he took to DC to re-do for an upcoming “op.” Communications about the “bloody” “battle” and “revolution” were accompanied by logistics planning, prosecutors alleged, with defendants discussing receiving and bringing weapons into the Washington area. Prosecutors allege that Rhodes allegedly spent thousands on firearms equipment en route to DC.

Here's What 'Rebellion,' 'Coup', and 'Treason' Mean

On January 6, prosecutors alleged that Oath Keepers stationed themselves around the DC area—some near the Capitol, others providing security and a third group waiting across the river at a Virginia hotel with a cache of weapons. . At the Capitol, some members walked into the Capitol in a military “stack” formation where they fought with police, and a small group unsuccessfully sought House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to court documents.

Prosecutors say the plot did not end with the Capitol riot, accusing Rhodes and other co-conspirators of “celebrating” the attack in Virginia and “discussing next steps.” In a Signal chat with other members of the Oath Keepers leadership, Rhodes reportedly said that “nothing compares to patriots entering their own capitol to send a message to traitors.”

In the week following the riots, Rhodes reportedly spent more than $17,500 on weapons, equipment, and ammunition. According to the filing, one member said that Rhodes should remain “under the radar,” while another brought “all available weapons” to Rhodes’ home in Texas.

Around Inauguration Day on January 20, Rhodes reportedly asked allies to organize a local militia to oppose the Biden administration. Another member reportedly said, “After this… if nothing happens… War… Civil War 2.0.”

The allegations mark a dramatic turnaround in the Justice Department’s January 6 investigation.

Previously, some Biden administration officials believed that using the charge of treason could politicize the Justice Department’s prosecution of the Capitol attackers, and the department backtracked after the former top prosecutor after the investigation, Michael Sherwin, He said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he believed the charge of seditious conspiracy could be made.
Attorney General Merrick Garland A speech commemorating the Capitol attack last week said the department was “committed to holding all January 6 offenders, at any level, accountable under the law – whether they were present that day or otherwise – for the attack on our democracy.” were criminally responsible.”

Rhodes is also interested in the January 6 investigation of the House, which issued summons to him and his organization in November for a statement and documents related to the events of that day.

CNN reported in July that Rhodes gave a voluntary interview to the FBI and that investigators confiscated his cell phone. He has denied all wrongdoing.

According to previous court filings submitted by the Justice Department in other cases, Rhodes said in a November 2020 online meeting, “We’re going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we ask him to do what needs to be done.” To save our country. Because if you’re not the people, you’re going to have a bloody, bloody civil war and a bloody — you can call it a rebellion, or you can call it a war or a fight.”

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Marshall Cohen and Evan Perez contributed to this report.