A Washington D.C. jury on Tuesday found Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, and the leader of the group’s Florida chapter Kelly Meggs, guilty of seditious conspiracy for their actions on Jan. 6, 2021, when demonstrators entered the U.S. Capitol and delayed certification of the 2020 election results.
Rhodes and Meggs were on trial, along with Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins, and Thomas Caldwell, for seditious conspiracy and other charges related to the events of Jan. 6, 2021. Harrelson, Watkins and Caldwell were all found not guilty of the seditious conspiracy charge but were found guilty on other charges.
Harrelson was found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties, and tampering with documents or proceedings.
Watkins was found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder and conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties.
Caldwell was found guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding, and tampering with documents or proceedings.
In addition to the seditious conspiracy charge, the jury also found Rhodes guilty of obstruction of an official proceeding and tampering with documents and proceedings. The jury also found Meggs guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging duties, and tampering with documents or proceedings.
During the trial, prosecutors presented text messages between Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers organization, including one in which Rhodes said then-President Donald Trump “needs to know that if he fails to act, then we will.”
During the trial, Rhodes testified that rather than physically assaulting the Capitol building, he was instead focused on Trump’s legal options to contest the 2020 election results and he believed that Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act as a legitimate legal challenge to the 2020 election results. Rhodes said his plans in Washington D.C. that day never involved going into the capitol to disrupt the congressional procedure for certifying elections.
During the trial a prosecution witness government named Graydon Young — an Oath Keepers member who had pleaded guilty to conspiracy — testified that he knew of no plan to enter the Capitol building and never received an order from Rhodes to enter the building. Young also described his decision to enter the building as “spontaneous.”
Rhodes did not enter the Capitol building, but did arrive outside the building later on in the protest.
The government argued that some Oath Keepers were hanging back from the protesting and rioting inside the capitol as a quick reaction force (QRF). The U.S. Department of Justice said “According to the government’s evidence, the QRF teams were prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington, D.C., in support of operations aimed at using force to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power.”
Each of the five defendants were found guilty of at least one offense with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. No sentencing date has been set.