Oath Keepers Seditious Conspiracy Trial - Convictions
November 30, 2022 7:31 PM   Subscribe

Oath Keepers Elmer Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs found guilty of seditious conspiracy, Brandi Buchman, Daily Kos, Nov 29 2022: ...Though defendants Caldwell, Watkins, and Harrelson were spared the seditious conspiracy charge by the jury, their failure to escape the obstruction of an official proceeding charge is significant. This charge, like the seditious conspiracy charge, carries a maximum 20-year sentence in prison ... Rhodes faces a max sentence of up to 60 years in prison ... Meggs up to 86 years ... Watkins up to 56 years ... Caldwell up to 40 years ... Harrelson up to 46 years... Sentencing guidelines are only recommendations and the defendants could receive shorter terms... [Previously on MeFi.]
posted by cenoxo (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would not be displeased if they got the full maximum sentences with no possibility of parole. I hate to say "we need to make an example of these people", but seriously, we need to make an example of these people.
posted by hippybear at 7:48 PM on November 30, 2022 [20 favorites]


Never forget that Rhodes wears an eye patch because he accidentally shot himself in the face
posted by glaucon at 7:52 PM on November 30, 2022 [22 favorites]


MAXIMUM. SENTENCES.
posted by nushustu at 8:02 PM on November 30, 2022 [6 favorites]


Oath Keepers leader and associates convicted of multiple charges in seditious conspiracy case (Hannah Rabinowitz, Holmes Lybrand and Sonnet Swire, CNN) has a good summary of the verdicts, which spells out the guilty verdicts for Caldwell, Watkins, and Harrelson:
COUNT 1: Seditious conspiracy

All five defendants were accused of planning to use force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power on January 6.

Rhodes: GUILTY
Meggs: GUILTY
Harrelson: NOT GUILTY
Watkins: NOT GUILTY
Caldwell: NOT GUILTY

COUNT 2: Conspiracy to Obstruct an official proceeding

All the defendants faced charges alleging that they conspired together to stop Congress from certifying the Electoral College votes inside the Capitol.

Rhodes: NOT GUILTY
Meggs: GUILTY
Harrelson: NOT GUILTY
Watkins: GUILTY
Caldwell: NOT GUILTY

COUNT 3: Obstructing an Official Proceeding

In addition to being accused of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, all were found guilty of actually committing the act.

Rhodes: GUILTY
Meggs: GUILTY
Harrelson: GUILTY
Watkins: GUILTY
Caldwell: GUILTY


COUNT 4: Conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties

The indictment alleged that all five defendants worked together to “prevent by force, intimidation, and threat… Members of the United States Congress, from discharging any duties,” namely, certifying the results of the 2020 election.

Rhodes: NOT GUILTY
Meggs: GUILTY
Harrelson: GUILTY
Watkins: GUILTY

Caldwell: NOT GUILTY

COUNT 5: Destruction of Government Property and Aiding and Abetting

Meggs, Harrelson and Watkins, according to prosecutors, were part of a crowd that burst through the Capitol’s Rotunda doors on January 6.

Meggs: NOT GUILTY
Harrelson: NOT GUILTY
Watkins: NOT GUILTY

COUNT 6: Civil Disorder and Aiding and Abetting

Jurors considered whether Watkins interfered with law enforcement when she allegedly joined a crowd near the Senate chamber, pushed against and shouted at officers who were guarding the chamber doors.

Watkins: GUILTY

COUNT 7, 8, 9 and 13: Tampering with Documents

Rhodes, Meggs, Harrelson and Caldwell all faced charges for allegedly deleting messages and pictures from their phones or social media accounts after January 6. Prosecutors also alleged that Rhodes instructed other Oath Keepers to delete messages after the riot.

Rhodes: GUILTY
Meggs: GUILTY
Harrelson: GUILTY
Caldwell: GUILTY

So, by my count, 28 total charges, 17 guilty verdicts (and of the not guilty verdicts, 8 of the 11 were conspiracy charges, and conspiracy is really hard to prove).

As historian Heather Cox Richardson pointed out in yesterday's Letters from an American,
That a jury has now found two people guilty of seditious conspiracy establishes that a conspiracy existed. Former federal prosecutor Randall D. Eliason, who teaches law at George Washington University, told reporters Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, and Rachel Weiner of the Washington Post: “Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible.” While federal prosecutors sought only to tie Rhodes to the other Oath Keepers, both sides agreed that Rhodes communicated with Trump allies Roger Stone, Ali Alexander, and Michael Flynn after the election. 

There are two more seditious conspiracy trials scheduled for December. One is for five other Oath Keepers; the other is against the leaders of the far-right gang the Proud Boys, led by Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio. 
Thank you very much for posting this, cenoxo. Seditious conspiracy is an extremely unusual charge, and I'm really, really glad the Justice Department was able to prove their case to the jury. I am grateful to the Justice Department for their careful and dogged work, and to the members of the jury.
posted by kristi at 8:17 PM on November 30, 2022 [36 favorites]


LawFare has also posted an Oath Keepers Verdict Chart (1) [PDF], linked from their article Seditious Kvetching: The Surprisingly Non-Trivial Defense in the Oath Keepers Prosecution, Roger Parloff, November 28 2022 (updated).
posted by cenoxo at 8:52 PM on November 30, 2022 [2 favorites]


Thank you for posting this. Here in Canada we have The Freedumb Konvoy who seemed to take a lot of their cues from goons like the Oath Keepers so hopefully this will dampen their enthusiasm for massive acts of collective stupidity.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 9:18 PM on November 30, 2022 [10 favorites]


David A. Graham's "It Was Sedition" at The Atlantic makes the point that instead of the patriots they made themselves out to be, these verdicts indelibly show the Oath Keepers and the 1/6 invaders of The Capitol to in fact be "the real domestic enemies of the Constitution".

Any just-asking-questions and whataboutism regarding their motives always were and always will be fascist propaganda and fud.

Now that the appetizer has been served, can we get some bread please? Gotten reaaaaaaaally hungry waiting so long. Looking forward to the salad, then the tasting menu, the main course, and dessert!
posted by riverlife at 10:31 PM on November 30, 2022 [6 favorites]


I get the urge for maximum sentences. It feels right. Be intolerant of intolerance, etc. Send a message to the others. However... have we learned nothing about locking up terrorists? They radicalize further in prison, and more importantly, they radicalize many others. Those others will get out sooner in many cases. Also, it feeds their mythmaking and bullshit image. They become martyrs. This is universally the case.

Conviction establishes the conspiracy. As noted above, how far/high does it go? If they are in prison already, some leverage is lost.

So, long sentences, but release them after just long enough so they are certain they do not ever want to go back. Say a year or two in a supermax, maybe solitary. But, released on some very strict parole conditions: no Internet or social media, no meeting in person with any others convicted for J6, no meetings with members of a list of groups, no hate speech or threats, no false claims of innocence, no repetition of the Big Lie, etc. A good lawyer at Justice can draw it up. But, do any more shit and... back you go. Cooperate with the further investigation, or... back you go. Show up to your made up bullshit job working for the city (Something really bullshit to not fuck with or degrade actual city employees. Sweeping a parking lot. Forever. Seems OK. And visible.)--they would hate to be public employees--and be on display as just run of the mill loser dingbats, not the revolutionary superheros they falsely pose as, or ... back you go.

Send the message that we aren't scared of this shit and these people are more deluded, less bad ass, so do not like them or be like them.
posted by Gotanda at 12:49 AM on December 1, 2022 [6 favorites]


While federal prosecutors sought only to tie Rhodes to the other Oath Keepers, both sides agreed that Rhodes communicated with Trump allies Roger Stone, Ali Alexander, and Michael Flynn after the election.

Time to start flipping.
posted by atrazine at 1:15 AM on December 1, 2022 [7 favorites]


Gotanda > …have we learned nothing about locking up terrorists? They radicalize further in prison, and more importantly, they radicalize many others.

WP > Mein Kampf > Sales [links in the article]:
…Hitler had made about 1.2 million ℛℳ from the income of the book by 1933 (equivalent to €5,562,590 in 2021), when the average annual income of a teacher was about 4,800 ℛℳ (equivalent to €22,250 in 2021). He accumulated a tax debt of 405,500 ℛℳ (very roughly, at 2015 values, £1.1 million stg, 1.4 million EUR, US$1.5 million) from the sale of about 240,000 copies before he became chancellor in 1933 (at which time his debt was waived).[26][27]

Hitler began to distance himself from the book after becoming chancellor of Germany in 1933. He dismissed it as "fantasies behind bars" that were little more than a series of articles for the Völkischer Beobachter, and later told Hans Frank that "If I had had any idea in 1924 that I would have become Reich chancellor, I never would have written the book."[28] Nevertheless, Mein Kampf was a bestseller in Germany during the 1930s.[29]

During Hitler's years in power, the book was in high demand in libraries and often reviewed and quoted in other publications. It was given free to every newlywed couple and every soldier fighting at the front.[26] By 1939, it had sold 5.2 million copies in eleven languages.[30] By the end of the war, about 10 million copies of the book had been sold or distributed in Germany.[citation needed]
There’s always those pesky unintended consequences, and now their message gets free, near-instantaneous distribution on social media (not to mention fund-raising for the cause).
posted by cenoxo at 4:00 AM on December 1, 2022


Now do Trump.
posted by theora55 at 7:56 AM on December 1, 2022 [6 favorites]


There are two more seditious conspiracy trials scheduled for December. One is for five other Oath Keepers; the other is against the leaders of the far-right gang the Proud Boys, led by Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio.

From U.S. Capitol riot sedition prosecutions won't get easier, experts say; Sarah N. Lynch, Reuters, November 30 2022:
UPCOMING TRIALS

Four other Oath Keepers members - David Moerschel, Joseph Hackett, Roberto Minuta and Edward Vallejo - are due to go to trial starting with jury selection on Dec. 5. None of them played leading roles in the organization. Three of the four entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, while Vallejo is accused of staying back at a hotel where weapons were stored.

The third trial is scheduled to begin later in December with seditious conspiracy charges against Proud Boys founder Enrique Tarrio and co-defendants Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola. [December 12, 2022 per Law & Crime]

Tarrio was not physically in Washington on the day of the Capitol attack and the Proud Boys defendants are not accused of carrying or storing weapons. The Oath Keepers were accused of gathering weapons and storing them at a hotel just outside Washington ready to bring them into the city on Jan. 6, if requested.

Prosecutors in court filings have argued that the "tools" the Proud Boys used to exert force against the government consisted of "Proud Boys members and affiliates whom the defendants recruited and led to the Capitol" as well as other rioters who surged toward the building after Nordean and Biggs allegedly helped destroy a metal barricade.

One of Rhodes' attorneys, James Lee Bright, told reporters on Tuesday that the two sedition convictions may signal "that the DOJ is going to go full steam ahead in like fashion on all the others."

Some defense lawyers said the prosecution's evidence in the two upcoming trials may be viewed as weaker. For example, the four defendants in the next Oath Keepers trial played secondary roles similar to the defendants acquitted of seditious conspiracy in the Rhodes trial.
More in the articles.
posted by cenoxo at 8:07 AM on December 1, 2022


I always wonder how people like this have the time and resources to just...do sedition. Don't they have jobs, families, etc?
posted by gottabefunky at 8:57 AM on December 1, 2022 [2 favorites]


no Internet or social media, no meeting in person with any others convicted for J6, no meetings with members of a list of groups, no hate speech or threats, no false claims of innocence, no repetition of the Big Lie, etc.

Uh, this does not scale, and if you've ever even been privy to a basic restraining order, it's laughable to think that it would be enforced.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:04 AM on December 1, 2022 [3 favorites]


Say a year or two in a supermax, maybe solitary

Advocating for solitary confinement is concerning.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:31 PM on December 1, 2022 [3 favorites]


Yeah, maybe too far on the solitary. But scare the crap out of them.
posted by Gotanda at 3:05 PM on December 1, 2022


Uh, this does not scale, and if you've ever even been privy to a basic restraining order, it's laughable to think that it would be enforced.
posted by The_Vegetables


Yes, I do know people who have not been well-protected by unenforced TROs. We all know why. The answer to that is to actually enforce them. As long as it is a choice for PDs, many if not most will go unenforced or laxly enforced. Make police liable for actually protecting people under equal protection grounds, and it might look different, but it hasn't happened yet.

The average annual cost of incarceration in California recently was 106K. That's the average. High security is probably more. Say 150K a year budget for Stewart Rhodes' personal full-time parole officer to follow him around here and there, drop by unannounced at any time? Should do the trick.

Better then him sitting in a box playing oppressed victim of the deep state and doing interviews by phone.
posted by Gotanda at 6:33 PM on December 1, 2022 [1 favorite]


Better then him sitting in a box playing oppressed victim of the deep state and doing interviews by phone.

How exactly is that better? And how do you know that some poor guy (really an entire team of guys because people do like to go home and go on vacation) having to follow him around all day won't eventually befriend and agree with him?
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:14 AM on December 2, 2022 [1 favorite]


and doing interviews by phone.

I think you should maybe read up on prison phone systems, costs, restrictions on free speech applied to prisoners as a matter of general policy (eg. to address organized crime/gang activity), punitive restrictions on phone privileges applied (whether legally/fairly or not) to individual prisoners, and general availability of phone access between prisoners and the outside world.
posted by eviemath at 9:29 AM on December 2, 2022


Stewart Rhodes' son: ‘How I escaped my father’s militia’ - BBC News
posted by oldnumberseven at 9:35 PM on December 3, 2022 [1 favorite]


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