Saturday, June 10, 2023

Oath Keepers founder pleads not guilty to sedition in violation of US Capitol

The Oath Keepers founder pleaded not guilty to sedition on Friday, days after he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington.

Stuart Rhodes, 56, made a brief appearance in federal court in Plano, Texas. He was in the custody of the US Marshals, handcuffed and leg ironed.

This week, Rhodes and 10 members of the Oath Keepers were charged with allegedly conspiring to attack the US Capitol and prevent the confirmation of electoral votes in the 2020 presidential election.

Authorities said Rhodes of Granbury, Texas, and some associates “planned to stop the legitimate transfer of presidential power by January 20, 2021.”

“They coordinated a cross-country tour to get to Washington, D.C., armed with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were ready to respond to Rhodes’s call to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction,” court documents say.

Rhodes did not enter the US Capitol, but some members of his group, which is mostly former and current law enforcement and military officials, did, including those who were indicted almost a year ago, according to the documents.

James Lee Bright, a lawyer for Rhodes, told reporters that Rhodes intends to contest the allegations.

“He believes he will be found not guilty,” Bright said.

While the government plans to press the court to keep Rhodes in custody while he awaits trial, the defendant’s lawyers will argue that this is not necessary.

“He has no reason to run. He doesn’t have a passport. He has nowhere to go,” Bright said.

Rhodes faces up to 20 years in prison, as do others accused of sedition.

The federal courthouse in Plano, Texas, where Stuart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, first appeared in court on January 14, 2022. (Jake Bleiberg/AP Photo)

Both Rhodes and Edward Vallejo, the only person not previously charged, were arrested on Thursday.

Vallejo, 63, also appeared in court on Friday to file charges.

He was ordered to reappear in court in Phoenix next week for a hearing in which his attorneys and prosecutors will present arguments as to whether he should be held pending trial.

Vallejo’s lawyer indicated that he planned to plead not guilty at a future hearing, while prosecutors confirmed that the Justice Department would require pre-trial detention.

Rhodes, a former U.S. Army paratrooper who graduated from Yale Law School, told The Epoch Times last year that the Oathkeepers were in Washington on January 6, 2021 “to protect speakers, events, and Trump supporters as well.” were attacked by Antifa when they tried to get back to the hotel or metro stations.”

“Now, unfortunately, what has happened is that some of our guys got swept up in the same way that 500 other Trump supporters swept over it, and they went up the steps and through the open doors that were already open, went around inside, took a few selfies and come out back. . That’s all they did,” he said. “I said it was a mistake to go inside, but I don’t consider it a crime.

Joseph Hanneman, Roman Balmakov and contributed to this report.

Zachary stieber

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Zachary Stieber covers US news and stories related to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.


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