In a significant development for the Justice Department’s investigation into the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the extremist group Oath Keepers, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison. Stay in touch with our website NewsManthan for the latest news!
Stewart Rhodes Sentenced To 18 Years
Rhodes orchestrated a weeks-long plot that culminated in his followers assaulting the Capitol with the intent of preventing President Joe Biden from assuming office after the 2020 election.
This marks the first conviction for seditious conspiracy in connection with the January 6 attack, and the sentence handed down to Rhodes is the longest so far among the numerous Capitol riot cases.
The Justice Department Determination
Attorney General Merrick Garland expressed the Justice Department’s commitment to holding accountable those responsible for the assault on democracy. According to APNews, The department considers Rhodes’ actions as “terrorism,” leading to an increased recommended sentence under federal guidelines.
This classification sets a precedent for potentially lengthy sentences for other far-right extremists, such as former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, who have been convicted of similar charges.
The Judge Assessment
U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, in a first for a January 6 case, agreed with the Justice Department’s stance that Rhodes’ actions should be regarded as terrorism. The judge emphasized that Rhodes remains a threat to the United States and democracy,
Expressing concern that similar events could occur in the future. Judge Mehta recognized Rhodes’ intelligence and charisma as factors that make him dangerous, stating that Rhodes would be ready to take up arms against the government upon his release.
Rhodes Response And Court Verdict
Rhodes, wearing orange jail clothes, referred to himself as a “political prisoner” and drew parallels with former President Trump, claiming that his only crime was opposing those he believed were destroying the country. However, the judge dismissed Rhodes’ claim, emphasizing
That his prosecution was not based on his political beliefs but on the actions he took against the people of the country. Another Oath Keeper, Kelly Meggs, who was convicted alongside Rhodes, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Meggs expressed regret for his involvement in the riot but maintained that he never intended to enter the Capitol.
Rhodes’ Background And Sentencing
Rhodes’ arrest in January 2022 was the culmination of his decades-long involvement in extremism, including standoffs with federal authorities at Nevada’s Bundy Ranch. Founding the Oath Keepers in 2009, Rhodes transformed it into one of the largest far-right antigovernment militia groups in the United States.
However, the group appears to have weakened following the arrests of its members. The judge’s agreement to the prosecution’s request for a “terrorism enhancement” allows for a longer prison term, highlighting the gravity of Rhodes’ actions.
Prosecutors had sought a 25-year sentence, arguing that it was necessary to deter future political violence. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy highlighted Rhodes’ interviews and speeches from jail, where he perpetuated the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen and asserted that it would happen again in 2024.