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Oath Keepers' Sedition Trial Begins

    Oath Keepers' Sedition Trial Begins
    Last updated: 2 months ago
    Image credit: Reuters

    Facts

    • The seditious conspiracy trial of Stewart Rhodes, founder of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia, began on Tuesday in what's described as the US Dept. of Justice's highest-profile case related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. [1]
    • Rhodes and his co-defendants — Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell — are accused of plotting to obstruct Congress' certification of the 2020 election and coordinating the riot. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison. [2]
    • Around 150 potential jurors will be questioned to decide who will hear the case, which is expected to take several weeks and will be presided by Obama-appointed US District Judge Amit Mehta. [3]
    • Prosecutors say Rhodes co-coordinated the set-up of a "quick reaction force" and stockpiled weapons at a northern Virginia hotel. Watkins, Harrelson, and Meggs are accused of storming the Capitol. [4]
    • The defendants — all of whom have been in custody since their arrest — have pleaded not guilty and have repeatedly attempted to delay the trial and have the charges against them dropped. [1]
    • Attorneys for some of the defendants are expected to argue that their clients were preparing for a possible invocation of the Insurrection Act — a law that allows the president to deploy troops in emergencies. Prosecutors are expected to counter-argue that the law doesn't include private armed groups. [3]
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    Spin

    Democratic narrative

    After its thorough investigation into the role played by the Oath Keepers on Jan. 6, the federal government is now set to show the world how far these extremists went to prevent Biden's inauguration and keep Trump in office. Federal prosecutors have collected tremendous amounts of evidence, from subpoenas and surveillance footage, that will prove these weren't protesters but violent insurgents attempting to conduct a military-style coup.

    Republican narrative

    Beyond the obvious political nature of these Jan. 6 indictments, what's most troubling about the Dept. of Justice is its refusal to allow any cross-examinations by the defense that could potentially detail the role played by FBI informants on the day of the riot. This is a clear denial of both the defendants' rights and the duties of their attorneys to present the best case possible to the jury.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that at least 20 people will be charged in 2022 by the US Dept. of Justice with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan 6 Capitol riots, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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