Rhodes’ intends to appeal, defence attorney James Lee Bright told reporters. Another Rhodes lawyer, Ed Tarpley, described the verdict as a “mixed bag”, adding, “This is not a total victory for the government in any way, shape or form”.
“We feel like we presented a case that showed through evidence and testimony that Mr Rhodes did not commit the crime of seditious conspiracy,” Tarpley said.
Together with Rhodes and Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell were also on trial. Thomas Caldwell is a retired Navy Intelligence Officer from Virginia. Jessica Watkins was the leader of an Ohio militia group.
The next week will see the beginning of juror selection for a second Oath Keeper facing seditious conspiracy accusations. A number of Proud Boys members, including Enrique Tarrio (ex-national chairman), are scheduled to be tried on the sedition charge in December.
Defence lawyers accused prosecutors of twisting their clients’ words and insisted the Oath Keepers came to Washington only to provide security for figures such as Roger Stone, a longtime Trump ally. The defence focused heavily on seeking to show that Rhodes’ rhetoric was just bluster and that the Oath Keepers had no plan before January 6 to attack the Capitol.
In a remarkable move, Rhodes testified before the jury to deny any plan to attack the Capitol. He also stated that his followers were rogue.
Rhodes stated that he didn’t know that his followers would join the mob to storm the Capitol. He also said that he was angry when he learned that some had done so. Rhodes said they were acting “stupid” and outside their mission for the day.
Prosecutors stated that Oath Keepers spotted an opportunity to advance their plot against the transfer power and took action when the mob attacked the Capitol. The Capitol attack was a “means to an end” for the Oath Keepers, Assistant US Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy told jurors in her closing argument.
Jurors heard that Rhodes spent thousands on an AR-platform rifle and magazines, as well as sights, sights, and other equipment, on his way from Virginia to Washington before the riot. They watched surveillance footage from the Virginia hotel where some Oath Keepers stashed weapons for “quick reaction force” teams prosecutors said were ready to get weapons into the city quickly if they were needed. The weapons were never used.
Oath keepers in combat gear were photographed moving through the crowd towards the Capitol. Rhodes remained outside like a “general surveying his troops on the battlefield,” a prosecutor said. After According to prosecutors, Rhodes and other Oath Keepers were celebrating the riot at an Olive Garden restaurant.
The trial revealed new details about Rhodes’ efforts to pressure Trump to fight to stay in White House in the weeks leading up to the riot. Shortly after the election, in a group chat that included Stone called “FOS” or “Friends of Stone”, Rhodes wrote, “So will you step up and push Trump to FINALLY take decisive action?”
Another witness testified that Rhodes tried to convince him to send a message to Trump after the riot. It urged Trump to not give up his fight for power. The intermediary – a man who told jurors he had an indirect way to reach the president – recorded his meeting with Rhodes and went to the FBI instead of giving the message to Trump.
“If he’s not going to do the right thing and he’s just gonna let himself be removed illegally then we should have brought rifles,” Rhodes said during that meeting, according to a recording played for jurors. “We should have fixed it right then and there. I’d hang [expletive] Pelosi from the lamppost,” Rhodes said, referring to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Three other Oath Keepers have pleaded guilty before to seditious plot. However, the Justice Department did not obtain a conviction in this case. It was the 1995 trial of Islamic militants who plotted bombing attacks on New York City landmarks.