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Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

11 Right-Wing Oath Keepers Charged With Seditious Acts Over Jan. 6 Plot

"For a whole year after the insurrection at the Capitol, we heard from countless Republicans who downplayed the seriousness of what took place on #Jan6th because no one was being changed with sedition," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "Maybe their rhetoric will change now."

Andrea Germanos

Eleven members of the so-called "Oath Keepers"—including the right-wing extremist group's leader—have been charged with seditious conspiracy for actions related to the January 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol.

The Department of Justice unsealed the indictment Thursday a day after it was handed down by a grand jury.

The indictment states that Oath Keepers leader and former Army paratrooper Stewart Rhodes and others conspired "to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power."

It cites a message on the encrypted application Signal two days after President Joe Biden won the 2020 election in which Rhodes wrote: "We aren't getting through this without a civil war. Too late for that. Prepare your mind, body, spirit."

Rhodes and others associated with the Oath Keepers used encrypted and private communications for their efforts to recruit and mobilize others, including "trainings to teach and learn paramilitary combat tactics; bringing and contributing paramilitary gear, weapons, and supplies," authorities said.

Rhodes was arrested Thursday, as was Edward Vallejo, who is identified as a "quick reaction force" leader in the indictment. QRF teams, according to the indictment, "were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C." to support the Oath Keepers' operations that day.

While those two men were arrested for the first time related to the Capitol attack, the other nine people named in the indictment were previously charged, and now face the sedition conspiracy charges.

Other charges listed against the Oath Keepers in the new indictment include conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, destruction of government property, and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties.

Rhodes' arrest, the New York Times reported, marked "a major step forward in the sprawling investigation of the Capitol attack," as well as the first time prosecutors made sedition charges.

According to CNN:

The Justice Department until now had been careful not to push the idea of sedition, instead charging defendants affiliated with right-wing groups with conspiracy to obstruct the congressional proceeding on January 6. The seditious conspiracy charge carries the same possible consequence as an obstruction charge, but is rarely used, politically loaded and has been difficult for the Justice Department to use successfully against defendants in the past. [...]

Rhodes has also been of interest to the House's January 6 investigation, which issued subpoenas in November for him and his organization for a deposition and documents related to the events of that day.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)—who recently warned that "the next coup is not only possible; it has already begun"—said that the sedition charges could mark a turning point.

Following the news of the indictments on Thursday, Omar tweeted:

Following the news, watchdog group Accountable.US said it was important to recognize a link between the attack on democracy and anti-public lands movement spearheaded by right-wing militia groups like the Oath Keepers.

Rhodes and other Oath Keepers were involved in multiple standoffs in recent years with the Bureau of Land Management, including a noted armed dispute in 2014 as the group stood with Nevada cattle rancher and fervent anti-government activist Cliven Bundy, who defied the feds by letting his animals graze on public lands without payment or permit for years.

“Rhodes' challenges to the electoral process and to public ownership of land are two sides of the same coin,” said Accountable.US president Kyle Herrig.

“The crisis of conservation is a crisis of democracy," he continued. "We must hold accountable the special interests that threaten the public's role in guiding the government's decisions.”

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