On Thursday, Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers’ founder and commander, was given an 18-year prison sentence for his role in a scheme to keep then-President Donald Trump in office after he lost the 2020 election.
For seditious conspiracy, this is the first sentence handed down in nearly a decade.
District Judge Amit Mehta said before handing down the sentence, “What we absolutely cannot have is a group of citizens who — because they did not like the outcome of an election, who did not believe the law was followed as it should be — foment revolution.” “That is exactly what you did.”
“I dare say, Mr. Rhodes – and I have never said this to anyone I have sentenced – you pose an ongoing threat and peril to our democracy and the fabric of this country,” stated Mehta.
I think it’s safe to say that, whenever an election is close, everyone stops breathing for a moment,” the judge continued. Is there going to be another January 6? That’s up in the air for now.
Mehta claims that Rhodes, 58, has shown no remorse and remains dangerous.
Judging by the severity of the penalties, “a seditious conspiracy, when you take those two concepts and put them together, is among the most serious crimes an American can commit,” the judge declared. To resort to physical force is a crime against the state. The people of our country have been insulted.
Mehta declared on Thursday that Rhodes’s activities constituted domestic terrorism.
He was the one issuing directives, as Mehta put it. He was in charge of team formation that day. Because of him, they were in the nation’s capital. No one disputes that Stewart Rhodes was instrumental in the formation of Oath Keepers. It was his order that got them moving, and they obeyed.
A Washington, DC, jury found Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy in November. The trial was a historic test of the Justice Department’s ability to hold January 6 rioters accountable and vindicated the prosecution’s claims that the breach of the Capitol was a grave threat to American democracy.
In the 150 years after its predecessor passed, the allegation of seditious conspiracy has been presented only a handful of times.
Before testifying earlier this week about his experience on January 6, US Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn told AWN that Donald Trump should be “next.”
In his words, “it is a step towards full accountability,” Dunn affirmed. His attorneys contended, and I agree, that Donald Trump is at the centre of all of this trouble. The next target is he.
A sentence of 18 years is “hard to find joy or celebration in,” Dunn added. I think justice should be taken for granted rather than celebrated.
Analyst with the American Women’s Network on national security, Juliette Kayyem, said the sentencing should have a “chilling effect on these groups,” especially as the presidential election season gets underway.
Kayyem said that the harsh punishment will make it harder for groups like the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys to recruit new members and collect funds.
The prosecution requested a 25-year sentence.
Mehta was requested by prosecutors to give Rhodes a 25-year prison term and to adopt the harsher sentencing guidelines for acts of terrorism.
On Thursday, prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy declared, “This is terrorism.”
Rhodes and other Oath Keepers leaders should be punished more harshly, she said, even though “it is not blowing up a building directly or telling someone to blow up a building.” This is because of the potential for harm and the historic nature of trying to stop the certification of an election for the first time in American history.
Rhodes, who was accused of orchestrating the January 6 siege with a group of people, was found guilty of delaying a legal action and tampering with evidence.
Twenty-two of the people under Rhodes’s leadership have been found guilty of federal crimes. The eight convicts include Rhodes’ co-defendant Kelly Meggs, who will also be sentenced on Thursday.
Rhodes continues to spread untruths about the upcoming 2020 election.
Before his sentencing, Rhodes declared himself a “political prisoner” and vowed to “expose the criminality of the regime” from behind bars.
A political prisoner, Rhodes told Mehta, “my only crime is opposing those who are destroying our country” (quoting Trump).
Rhodes spent 20 minutes rehashing the claims that the 2020 presidential election was unconstitutional, yelling that he was “not able to drop that under my oath” during his military service and “not able to ignore the Constitution.”
In an effort to justify his group’s behaviour on January 6, the leader claimed over and over that “no Oath Keeper took part in any of the fighting” and that the violence at the Capitol was “all done by other people.”
“I believe this country is incredibly divided, and this prosecution – not just mine, but all the J6ers,” Rhodes remarked.
He elaborated, saying, “I believe every J6er is a political prisoner and all of them are being grossly overcharged. It will make people feel even more that this government is not legitimate.