Federal investigators arrested Oath Keepers commander Stewart Rhodes in Texas on Thursday morning, more than a year after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In connection with last year’s Capitol siege, nine more people have been charged with multiple counts.
In the year since pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent President Joe Biden from receiving his 2020 election victory certificate, hundreds of conspiracy charges have been made.
With more than 700 persons detained and federally prosecuted, the riot has become one of the most extensive investigations in Justice Department history, highlighting the effort that includes the most complicated cases.
On Jan. 6, 2021, many members were captured on camera, making their way through the crowd, crashing past police barricades and shattering windows, injuring dozens of officers, and causing politicians to flee.
According to the indictment, the Oath-Keepers discussed overturning the election results for weeks and preparing for a siege by purchasing weapons and making battle plans. They discussed the possibility of violence, and the need, as Rhodes allegedly said in a text, “to scare the [expletive] out of” Congress.
According to the Justice Department, the Oath Keepers were determined to block a lawful transition of power, with two groups marching in military formations toward the Capitol that day and other staff members branded “quick reaction forces” waiting outside D.C. to carry rifles other weaponry.
The Oath-Keepers were created in 2009 by Rhodes, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate. The right-wing extremist group recruits current and former military, police, and first responders. Veterans are among those detained.
In talks with right-wing followers, Rhodes has stated that there are no plans to storm the Capitol and that members are lying. But he kept repeating the idea that the 2020 election would be rigged.
According to court records, Rhodes communicated with other leaders on Jan. 6 using a Signal chat group.
“Pence is doing nothing. As I predicted,” Rhodes typed a message to the group that day. “All I see Trump doing is complaining. I see no intent by him to do anything. So the Patriots are taking it into their own hands. They’ve had enough.”
Authorities claim he had a GoToMeeting call a few days after the election, instructing his supporters to travel to Washington and inform President Donald Trump that “the people are behind him.” Rhodes advised members to be ready to confront Antifa and that certain Oath-Keepers should “stay on the outside” and be “prepared to go in armed.”
Rhodes said, according to court documents, “We’re going to defend the president, the duly elected president, and we call on him to do what needs to be done to save our country. Because if you don’t guys, you’re going to be in a bloody, bloody civil war, and a bloody—you can call it an insurrection or you can call it a war or fight.”
Rhodes was apprehended in Little Elm, 35 miles north of Dallas. He was booked into the Collin County Detention Center. The sheriff stated that local prison officials could not allow Rhodes to talk to a reporter because federal officers had detained him.
Seduction charges are challenging to prove and are infrequently used, but if convicted, defendants might face a sentence of up to 20 years in jail, compared to five years for other conspiracy counts.
More than 70 people have been charged with rioting and are still jailed. As of Jan. 11, 183 individuals had pleaded guilty to riot-related offenses. At least 78 have been found guilty, with 35 of them receiving prison sentences or terms already served.