DC Jurors Reveal Ties to Jan 6 Law Enforcement in Oathkeepers’ Trial

WASHINGTON — As of Wednesday night, a federal judge in Washington had approved about three dozen residents to potentially serve on the jury in the Oath Keepers’ seditious conspiracy trial, further winnowing the pool on day two of the court proceedings.

Elmer Stewart Rhodes and his four co-conspirators, all alleged members of the far-right group, each face up to 20 years behind bars for trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power between then-President Donald Trump, and President Joe Biden.

Through extensive questioning by attorneys and Judge Amit Mehta, the jury selection process highlighted some Washington residents’ close ties and lasting memories of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

A woman has revealed she knew one of the local police officers who killed himself after the riot. The events were “extremely heavy” for him, she said, recalling how a friend told her the Capitol riot was directly linked to the suicide. Yet she had family who supported former President Donald Trump and believed she could fairly weigh the evidence presented at trial. Mehta refused to hit her immediately at the request of defense attorneys.

Another potential juror said she was friends on Facebook with Harry Dunn, the Capitol police officer who testified at House Select Committee hearings and even shed tears upon seeing footage of the violence.

Social media was the key to firing others. Mehta hit a man off the list after it emerged he had liked a number of tweets criticizing MAGA Republicans, including some from the Lincoln Project.

“Ultimately, whatever the outcome of this case, it will have to withstand public scrutiny,” Mehta told the courtroom.

At various points, he gave insight into his reasoning: it was not automatically disqualifying to know a potential witness, like Dunn, he said, and whether or not someone is too traumatized by the events of the January 6, this can be determined by his emotion. seem while answering questions about it.

One man called the events of January 6 an “insurgency” and said he considered them undemocratic, but Mehta felt the man was able to serve fairly because of his past experience – the man has already participated in a murder trial where the jury acquitted the defendant.

Several would-be jurors have been adamant that they have friends or family who support Trump and that they respect the right of others to hold different political views. Some did not indicate that they knew any Trump supporters, but nevertheless believed that people were entitled to their own beliefs.

The trial will require 12 jurors to sit on the panel, with four alternates. Prosecutors and defense attorneys will each have the opportunity to veto individual jurors in the coming days to narrow the pool even further.

Opening statements are currently expected to begin early next week and the trial could run until November.

The stakes are high for the Department of Justice. If successful, their case will underscore the claim that the events of January 6 posed a direct threat to American democracy and bolster their case in the other two seditious conspiracy trials scheduled to begin later this year.


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