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Fri Jan 14, 2022, 09:18 PM

Oaf Creepers founder Stewart Rhodes faces rare charge of seditious conspiracy for Jan. 6 role

More than 700 people have been charged by the Justice Department in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. On that day, a violent mob of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the building in an attempt to block the certification of the Electoral College tally for the 2020 presidential election. But in the year since the attack, none of the accused has been charged with the crime of sedition, a fact that has led a growing number of Republican lawmakers to question the seriousness of the insurrection.

That changed on Thursday, when Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group, and 10 of its members or associates were charged with seditious conspiracy, a rare violation of a Civil War-era law that occurs when two or more people conspire “to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force” the U.S. government.

“I hope that this arrest and this prosecution will shut up those of our colleagues who keep saying, ‘Well, if it was a conspiracy, how come there are no conspiracy charges? If it was seditious, how are there no sedition charges?’” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a member of the select committee investigating the riot, said on CNN Thursday after the indictments were unsealed.

Elmer Stewart Rhodes — a 56-year-old former U.S. Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate from Granbury, Texas — founded the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group, in 2009 in response to the election of President Barack Obama. With a signature patch covering an eye that he lost from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound, Rhodes rose to prominence as a guest on Alex Jones’s “Infowars” program. He also came into the national spotlight in 2014 when the Oath Keepers took part in the armed confrontation between supporters of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and federal law enforcement at Bundy's Nevada ranch. (Rhodes was not charged in the standoff.)


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