Two members of the anti-government and far-right Oath Keepers militia have been found guilty of seditious conspiracy for the January 6, 2021 attack on Congress in which supporters of former President Donald Trump tried to stop the certification of the presidential election, won by Joe Biden.
Among them is also Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the group. Four other militia members were also on trial with Rhodes. Three, Jessica Watkins, Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson, had entered the building during the attack. Kelly Meggs, like Rhodes, was found guilty of seditious conspiracy and all five were found guilty of obstruction of official proceedings.
Today was one of the most important trials born out of the attack on Congress. “Seditious conspiracy” is a rarely prosecuted crime in the United States and is defined as a plot between two or more persons “to overthrow, overthrow, or forcibly destroy the government of the United States”: the last time anyone went to trial on this charge had been more than ten years ago. The maximum penalty is twenty years in prison.
Already about a month after the attack on Congress, an investigation by the US Justice Department had discovered and revealed how the assault on the Congress building had been anything but impromptu for many of the participants, and that behind it there were actually several groups organized as armed militias, trained and coordinated with each other to commit acts of violence. Among these were members of the Oath Keepers, which are a group made up mostly of ex-military and law enforcement members who had begun preparing the attack since the days following the 2020 presidential elections. The Oath Keepers, which means ” oath keepers“, are so called because they claim to be the only ones to fully respect the oath of allegiance to the Constitution that all soldiers and policemen must take when they enter service.