Oath Keepers leader to appear in court Friday on seditious conspiracy charges

The Justice Department on Thursday released its case against Stewart Rhodes and Edward Vallejo, who were arrested Thursday in Texas and Arizona, respectively.
Court documents released Thursday also added the charge to the case that nine other defendants were already facing for their alleged involvement in the riot that disrupted Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s Jan. 6 election victory. 2021.

At some point, these defendants will have an arraignment to plead against the new charge of seditious conspiracy, but these proceedings have not yet been scheduled,

In a Friday afternoon hearing before Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine in Phoenix that lasted less than 10 minutes, Vallejo — who appeared virtually from the Florence Correctional Complex in central Arizona — was held until another hearing. scheduled for January 20, where his pre-trial detention will be discussed further. Coincidentally, this will mark one year after Biden’s inauguration.

Vallejo’s public defender Debbie Jang told the court he intended to plead not guilty to all charges against him, although a formal plea was not sought during the court hearing. Friday. Vallejo was led to his video conferencing camera strapped to a chair, wearing an orange jumpsuit and a black face mask. He told Fine that he plans to hire his own attorney as soon as possible, but hasn’t been able to get in touch with his preferred attorney yet.

Prosecutors accuse Vallejo of transporting weapons and coordinating with Rhodes a so-called “rapid reaction force” team for January 6.
Rhodes – the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers – will appear before Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson in Plano, Texas at 2:30 p.m. CT on Friday.

RELATED: Takeaways From the Landmark Sedition Indictment Against Oath Keepers and Why the DOJ Failed to Act

It is possible that in court the Justice Department will make a strong case for the men to be held in jail, as they have already done with several others in the case, and prosecutors may even show evidence in court to convince the judges that they could be dangerous.

READ: Seditious conspiracy indictment related to attack on US Capitol

Those talks could continue when their cases — as expected — go to federal court in DC, where the other January 6 lawsuits are taking place.

Rhodes has previously denied any wrongdoing.

The prosecutors’ decision to bring the seditious conspiracy charge carries symbolic and political weight; the relevant law dates back to the Civil War era. But it’s also a risk for prosecutors, as the use of the charge in the past — most recently in a 2010 case involving a Michigan militia conspiracy — has wavered under the scrutiny of judges.

Reservation photo of Oath Keeper Chief Stewart Rhodes. From Collin County, Texas

Attorney General Merrick Garland had been reluctant to bring the charge, CNN previously reported, but prosecutors in the latest indictment were able to show granular details about the alleged planning and logistical coordination between the defendants prior to the attack on the Capitol. . Of particular note are the accusations in the new documents that Rhodes, Vallejo and other defendants continued to plot even after the riot to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

Before the seditious conspiracy charge was brought, a central charge in the DOJ’s Oath Keeper case was conspiracy to obstruct official process. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta recently denied a request by several Oath Keeper defendants to dismiss the charge, and its use was upheld by other judges presiding over separate January 6 cases.

Several oath keepers who are not currently facing the seditious conspiracy charge brought by the DOJ on Thursday are facing an obstruction of conspiracy charge. This charge, along with the seditious conspiracy charge, carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Four of those charged in the DOJ oath-keepers prosecution are known to be cooperating with the government.

This story was updated with developments on Friday.

CNN’s Bob Ortega, Andy Rose, Katelyn Polantz, Evan Perez, Hannah Rabinowitz and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.


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