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Oath Keepers Founder and Leader Stewart Rhodes Indicted in First Seditious Conspiracy Case in Jan. 6 Siege

Stewart Rhodes on Infowars

Screenshot of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on Infowars

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers extremist group, has been indicted and charged with seditious conspiracy in the sprawling investigation into the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Arrested on Thursday morning Little Elm, Texas, the 56-year-old Rhodes and 10 of his co-defendants are the first on the Jan. 6 docket to face the exceedingly rare charge, which carries the possibility of decades imprisonment. Authorities also arrested Edward Vallejo, a 63-year-old quoted in the indictment discussing the possibility of “armed conflict” and “guerilla war,” this morning in Phoenix, Arizona.

“Rhodes and certain co-conspirators, to include selected regional leaders, planned to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power by January 20, 2021, which included multiple ways to deploy force,” the grand jury alleged in a 48-page indictment, unsealed on Thursday. “They coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington, D.C., equipped themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were prepared to answer Rhodes’s call to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction.”

Seditious conspiracy, which is codified at 18 U.S.C. § 2384, is defined as (more context here and here):

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

Previous indictments of Oath Keepers members described an elaborate plot to store a cache of weapons just outside of Washington, D.C., where a so-called “Quick Reaction Force” allegedly stood ready to deploy by boat over the Potomac River at 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 commanded in an encrypted message, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors allege that Rhodes started hatching his conspiracy by sending a message to an “invitation-only, end-to-end encrypted group chat” on Nov. 5, 2020, two days after Election Day.

Giving the chat room the name “Leadership intel sharing secured,” Rhodes urged his followers to refuse to accept Trump’s defeat and said: “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit.”

When Trump’s loss was widely projected on Nov. 7, Rhodes continued: “[W]e must now do what the people of Serbia did when [Slobodan] Milosevic stole their election. Refuse to accept it and march en-mass on the nation’s Capitol.” The Serbian autocrat died before he could be tried on 66 counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Like Trump, Milosevic peddled false claims of election fraud.

Prosecutors say that Rhodes sent a link to a video titled “STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE, HOW WE WON WHEN MILOSEVIC STOLE OUR ELECTIONS,” sending his fellow militia members the following message:

“I am in direct context with the Serbian author of that video. His videos are excellent. Here is his written advice to us:

“- Peaceful protests, good, well played round 1

– A complete civil disobedience, they are not your representatives. They are FOREIGN puppet government.

– Connect with the local police and start organize by neighborhoods to stay safe (we didn’t need this step)

– We swarmed the streets and started confronting the opponents. I know, not nice, but it must be done if the institutions stop to exist

– Millions gathered in our capital. There were no barricades strong enough to stop them, nor the police determined enough to stop them

– Police and Military aligned with the people after few hours of fistfight

– We stormed the Parliament

– And burned down fake state Television!


On Nov. 10, 2020, Rhodes alleged published a plan of action under the headline “WHAT WE THE PEOPLE MUST DO” on the Oath Keepers website in a “Call to Action!”

Rhodes’s bloodthirsty messages continued the next month with a message to an invitation-only Signal chat for Oath Keepers in a room titled “Dec. 12 DC Security/Leadership,” whose participants included Roger Stone’s reported security guards Joshua James and Roberto Minuta, prosecutors say.

In the chat, Rhodes said if then-President Elect Biden were to assume the presidency, “It will be a bloody and desperate fight. We are going to have a fight. That can’t be avoided.”

Now part of an 11-person conspiracy case, Rhodes faces up to 20 years imprisonment if convicted of that seditious conspiracy count. In addition, Rhodes faces counts of conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding, obstructing an official proceeding, conspiring to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, and tampering with documents. Seven other alleged Oath Keepers members are being prosecuted separately on seditious conspiracy and similar charges. Another is being prosecuted individually.

Read the indictment, below:

(Screenshot from InfoWars)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."