A federal prosecutor informed a U.S. court four Oath Keepers members were guilty of conspiring to use force to prevent the peaceful transfer of power at the U.S. Capitol last January, to overthrow Donald Trump.
Monday marked the beginning of a second major U.S. Department of Justice trial, January 6, 2021. This time it involved Oath Keeper defendants Roberto Minuta (Roberto Hackett), Joseph Hackett (Josh Hackett) and Edward Vallejo.
Federal prosecutor Troy Edwards explained the administration’s argument by saying that “these defendants decided to take power over the presidential election when they tried to stop the presidential transfer of authority for the first time in the country’s history.”
Two weeks after the victory in the first trial against Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, and four others, opening arguments were held.
The first sedition trial lasted eight weeks. Kelly Meggs was convicted by a jury of chief of Rhodes and Oath Keepers Florida section of seditious conspiracies. However, Kenneth Harrelson and Jessica Watkins were acquitted of these charges. charge.
All five were also convicted of obstruction of official proceedings — congressional certification of the election results — and the jury returned mixed verdicts on a handful of other charges, including two other conspiracy charges.
Each of the two charges of seditious plot and obstruction of official proceeding can lead to up to 20 year imprisonment.
The current seditious conspiracies trial was brought to you by Rhodes. Due to space limitations and the risk of COVID-19 contamination, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta divided the case into separate lawsuits.
Along with seditious conspiration, the four are also facing conspiracy to obstruct, impede, and prevent members of Congress from performing duties.
Rhodes is currently in prison awaiting sentencing. He was out of court on Monday. Rhodes previously stated that he had no plans for his far-right group members to attack the Capitol last January. He testified that there was no plan to enter the building “for any purpose” at his trial last month.
US prosecutors say that Rhodes and co-defendants had planned to use force against Congress to prevent it from ratifying President Joe Biden’s election victory over Trump.
The former Republican president falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential elections were stolen through widespread fraud. He also made an incendiary speech to a crowd of supporters in Washington, D.C. shortly before the U.S. Capitol Riot broke out.
Moerschel and Hackett, Minuta and Meggs, Watkins (and Watkins) all entered the Capitol in tactical gear the day before the attack by Trump supporters.
Edwards said Monday that Minuta, who was leading a group of Oath Keepers to Capitol, violently clashed against police, shouting that it was “their house”. According to the prosecution, defendants responded to Rhodes’ “call to arms”.
Edwards stated, “This was an invitation for sedition.”
Vallejo is accused having stayed at a hotel near Virginia, where Oath Keepers created a “rapid respond force” that prosecutors claim was equipped with firearms to be quickly transported to Washington.
Hackett was the lawyer for one of Oath Keeper’s four alleged defendants. He said that the group members didn’t go to the US capital in order to attack it, but rather to provide security details for Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally where he addressed his supporters.
Angela Halim, a juror, said Monday that no one had ever said they were going after the Capitol. “There was no unity.
Halim also accused prosecutors that they presented a “twisted account” of the defendants’ actions. She stated that there was a rush to decide.
None of the defendants in the trial have the same name recognition as Rhodes, who founded this group in 2009.
Its members, which include former and retired US military, law enforcement, first responders and police officers, have often shown up heavily armed at protests or political events across the US. This includes the racial justice rallies after the 2020 police killings of George Floyd.
Hackett, Moerschel are both members the Florida chapter. Prosecutors claim that Minuta was previously a leader of members in the New York area. Vallejo was part a group of Oath Keepers hailing from Arizona.