Storming the United States Capitol: a militia accused of conspiracy

MErrick Garland has recently come under fire. In the Jan. 6, 2021, rioters’ trial, the U.S. Attorney General was accused of only acting against “little fish.” Now the Department of Justice is going on the offensive. A year after the Capitol was seized, she filed a lawsuit against the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers militia and ten other members of the group. They are accused of “seditious conspiracy”.

majid satar

Political correspondent for North America based in Washington.

Militia founder and leader Stewart Rhodes was arrested in the state of Texas on Thursday, the Justice Department said. For him, this is the first charge in connection with the attack on the Capitol. Several other members had already been charged with other charges. According to the Justice Department, Rhodes conspired with the co-defendants to use violence to prevent the democratic transfer of power after the presidential election. Among other things, they planned to go to Washington on January 6, 2021, organize weapons and paramilitary equipment and carry out training in combat techniques beforehand.

Several of the defendants had entered the Capitol themselves, while others had handled coordination outside of Congressional headquarters and partly out of town. A maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison could be handed down for “seditious conspiracy”, he said.

First charge of “seditious conspiracy”

According to the Justice Department, more than 725 people have been prosecuted in nearly every state in connection with the Capitol takeover. In several cases, accusations of obstructing “sovereign procedure” have been brought. Others have been charged with assault and similar offences. Charges of “seditious conspiracy” were brought for the first time. The offense dates back to the start of the Civil War, when Congress was looking for ways to punish armed resistance fighters against the Union. It was used extremely rarely.

The question now is how far the investigation will go, given that some members of the militia have been in contact with a group of confidants of President-elect Donald Trump who were arrested on January 5 and 6, 2021 at the hotel. Willard on Pennsylvania Ave. close to the past at the White House. The parliamentary inquiry is trying to find out what were the communications between the White House and the Willard Hotel, which served as a “war room”.

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The rioters had been urged by Trump, who said his election victory was ‘stolen’, at a rally behind the White House, to come to the Capitol ‘peacefully and patriotically’ but ‘like the devil’ to make sure that senators and deputies do not certify election results. Several Republicans have appealed individual states’ results in the certification process.

Rhodes, known for his eyepatch, founded the “Oath Keepers” in 2009. The militia primarily recruits current and former police and soldiers. The group is classified as anti-government. Their credo is that their loyalty is to the constitution, not to state authorities. The City of Washington sued the “Oath Keepers” and the right-wing Proud Boys group in civil court last December over the capitol storming.

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