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Army vet, Oath Keepers founder gets 18 years for Jan. 6 Capitol storming

Protesters storm the Capitol. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
May 25, 2023

A U.S. District judge sentenced Oath Keepers founder and Army veteran Stewart Rhodes to 18 years in prison on Thursday. The sentencing comes after a jury found Rhodes guilty of seditious conspiracy for his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, late last year.

Rhodes became the first person to be sentenced for seditious conspiracy for his role in the U.S. Capitol storming and his sentence is the longest of anyone charged in relation to the demonstration so far.

Prior to announcing Rhodes’ sentence, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta accused Rhodes of being an ongoing threat to the United States, arguing the defendant “wants democracy in this country to devolve into violence.”

“The moment you are released, whenever that may be, you will be ready to take up arms against your government,” Mehta said, according to The Associated Press.

Prosecutors called for Rhodes to be imprisoned for 25 years, arguing he was the architect behind a plot to block the transfer of power from then-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden. Mehta and the prosecution agreed that Rhodes’ sentence called for “terrorism enhancement” because he attempted to influence government procedures through “intimidation and coercion.”

Rhodes accused the prosecution of being driven by politics and noted that he never entered the Capitol. He also claimed he never told anyone else to go inside the Capitol.

“I’m a political prisoner and like President Trump my only crime is opposing those who are destroying our country,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes attorney, Phillip Linder, intends to appeal the conviction, the AP reported, arguing prosecutors attempted to make Rhodes “the face” of the Capitol storming.

“If you want to put a face on J6 (Jan. 6), you put it on Trump, right-wing media, politicians, all the people who spun that narrative,” Linder said, asserting if Rhodes “really wanted to” disrupt Congress, he would have gathered far more Oath Keepers in D.C.

In November, Rhodes’ lawyers called an FBI informant to testify as a witness in his case, but the FBI informant suffered a heart attack while on his way to the trial, the lawyers said.