Steward Rhodes, the founder and leader of the extremist group Oath Keepers, has been indicted and charged with seditious conspiracy in the broad investigation into the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.
Arrested Thursday morning in Little Elm, Texas, Rhodes, 56, and 10 of his co-defendants are the first on the Jan. 6 indictment to face the extremely rare charge, which carries the possibility of decades in prison. authorities also arrested Edward Vallejo, a 63-year-old man cited in the indictment this morning in Phoenix, Arizona, about the possibility of “armed conflict” and “guerrilla warfare.”
“Rhodes and certain co-conspirators, including select regional leaders, planned to halt the lawful transfer of power to the President by January 20, 2021, which included multiple avenues to the use of force,” the grand jury claimed in a 48-page indictment, unsealed on Thursday. “They coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington, DC, armed themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and prepared to heed Rhodes’ call, at Rhodes’ direction to arms to grab.”
Seditious conspiracy, codified at 18 USC § 2384, is defined as (more context here and here):
When two or more persons in any state, territory or place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States conspire to overthrow, overthrow or destroy by force or wage war against the Government of the United States, or themselves forcibly defy their authority, or forcibly prevent, obstruct, or delay the enforcement of any United States law, or forcibly seize, take, or possess United States property contrary to their authority, they shall each be fined or shall be subject to a term of imprisonment not exceeding twenty years or both.
Previous indictments against members of Oath Keepers have detailed a conspiracy to store an arms cache outside of Washington, DC, where a so-called “Quick Reaction Force” was said to be ready to boat across the Potomac River to the former President Donald Trump’s Direction.
The indictment shows Rhodes signing off on the plan for a so-called “QRF” – which was never actually launched.
“We WILL have a QRF, this situation calls for it,” Rhodes ordered in a coded message, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors allege Rhodes began hatching his conspiracy by sending a message to an “end-to-end encrypted invite-only group chat” on November 5, 2020, two days after Election Day.
Rhodes dubbed the chat room “Leadership Intel Sharing Secured” and urged his supporters to refuse to accept Trump’s defeat, saying, “We’re not getting through here without a civil war.” It’s too late for that. Prepare your mind, body and soul.”
As Trump’s loss was widely forecast on November 7, Rhodes continued: “[W]We must now do what the people of Serbia did and when [Slobodan] Milosevic stole their choice. Refuse to accept it and march en masse on the nation’s Capitol.” The Serbian autocrat died before being charged with 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Like Trump, Milosevic made false claims about voter fraud.
Prosecutors say Rhodes sent a link to a Bitchute.com video titled “STEP-BY-STEP HOW WE WON WHEN MILOSEVIC STOLE OUR ELECTIONS” and sent his fellow militia members the following message:
“I am in direct connection with the Serbian author of this video. His videos are excellent. Here is his written advice to us:
“- Peaceful protests, well, well played round 1
– A complete civil disobedience, they are not your representatives. They are a foreign puppet government.
– Connect with local police and start organizing by neighborhoods to stay safe (we didn’t need this step)
– We swarmed the streets and started confronting the opponents. I know, not pretty, but it has to be done when the institutions cease to exist
– Millions gathered in our capital. There were neither barricades strong enough to stop them nor police determined enough to stop them
– Police and military joined the people after a few hours of fistfighting
– We stormed Parliament
– And burned down the fake state television!
On November 10, 2020, Rhodes reportedly posted an action plan entitled “WHAT WE THE PEOPLE NEED” on the Oath Keepers website in a “Call to Action!”
Rhodes’ gory messages were followed up the next month with a message to an invite-only signal chat for Oath Keepers in a room titled “Dec. 12 DC Security/Leadership”, whose participants included Roger Stones reported security forces JoshuaJames and Roberto Minuta, prosecutors say.
In the chat, Rhodes said if then-President-elect Biden took over the presidency, “It’s going to be a bloody and desperate fight. We will argue. That cannot be avoided.”
Rhodes, now part of an 11-man conspiracy case, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of this inflammatory conspiracy. In addition, Rhodes faces charges of conspiracy to obstruct an official process, obstruction of an official process, conspiracy to prevent an official from performing his or her duties and tampering with documents. Seven other suspected Oath Keepers members are being prosecuted separately on seditious conspiracy and similar charges. Another is prosecuted individually.
Read the indictment below:
(Screenshot from InfoWars)
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