Founder of Oath Keepers to be Sentenced for Jan. 6 Capitol Attack

Federal prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of 25 years for Stewart Rhodes.


Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, is slated to be among the first members of his far-right antigovernment group to be sentenced to prison Thursday for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, is seen on a screen during a House Select Committee hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol, in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on June 9, 2022.
Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 25 years for Rhodes — what would be the harshest sentence so far among the hundreds of others already convicted for charges related to the insurrection, according to the Associated Press.

At trial, prosecutors alleged that Rhodes and Oath Keepers Florida chapter leader Kelly Meggs worked to try to stop the transfer of power from President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden by force.

Rhodes and his fellow Oath Keepers began preparing an armed rebellion to block Biden from taking office soon after the presidential election in 2020, prosecutors said. Dozens of surveillance video recordings, encrypted messages, and other pieces of digital evidence were entered at trial, the AP reported.

Prosecutors said Rhodes galvanized group members to fight for a Trump victory, talking about the potential of a "bloody" civil war, according to the news service.

On Jan. 6, the Oath Keepers marched through the crowd and forced their way into the Capitol. They allegedly had weapons ready, if needed, — though they were never deployed — at a Virginia hotel, according to surveillance video shown to the jury.

Rhodes did not enter the Capitol on Jan. 6, however. He testified there was no plan to attack the building and those in the group who did go in did so on their own volition, according to the AP.

His attorneys asked the court to sentence him to 16 months in prison — the time he has already spent in custody since his arrest in January 2022. They also argued in legal filings his statements and writings were protected "political speech."

The Justice Department has argued a hefty sentence for Rhodes is necessary to discourage any similar instigators in the future.

“The justice system’s reaction to January 6 bears the weighty responsibility of impacting whether January 6 becomes an outlier or a watershed moment,” prosecutors wrote in filings earlier this month.

Thursday is the first of a series of sentencing hearings for the Oath Keepers, with six more members to be sentenced between this week and next.

Alongside Rhodes, Meggs was also to be sentenced Thursday for seditious conspiracy.

In November, both became the first people in almost 30 years to be found guilty of the charge.

Three co-defendants, meanwhile, were acquitted of seditious conspiracy, but were convicted of obstructing Congress' certification of the election, according to the AP.

Four additional Oath Keepers were convicted of sedition in January.

Aside from Rhodes, prosecutors have sought prison sentences ranging between 10 and 21 years, the AP reported.

A judge is also currently weighing whether to overturn a guilty verdict on two charges for Thomas Caldwell, of Berryville, Virigina.

More than 500 of the 1,000-plus people charge in connection to the Capitol attack have been sentenced so far, according to the AP.

But cases involving the Oath Keepers have been watched closely, particularly as the leaders of the Proud Boys, another far-right group, were convicted of seditious conspiracy earlier this month, the news service reported.

Sentencing for members of the Proud Boys is set for August and September.

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