Oathkeeper Joshua James pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy in Capitol riot

As part of his plea, James agreed to cooperate with federal investigators, including testifying before a grand jury.

James, an army veteran who was injured fighting in Iraq, was charged with sedition in January along with 10 others, including Oath Keepers founder and leader Stewart Rhodes. James faced multiple counts of obstructing the official Electoral College count, as well as assaulting a DC police officer while inside the Capitol. He was also accused of falsifying documents to destroy his communications with other oath keepers. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges other than counts of seditious conspiracy and obstruction. Both counts carry a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. No defendant has yet been given a maximum sentence.

James appeared in court virtually from Alabama; he was released under GPS surveillance last April despite government objections. U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta said the sentencing guidelines for the sedition and obstruction charge were calculated at a range of 87 to 108 months in prison. The range is advisory and both parties can ask the judge to go above or below the range when determining the sentence.

The longest sentence a Jan. 6 defendant has received so far is 63 months for Robert S. Palmer, who admitted throwing a fire extinguisher, plank and long pole at officers.

Five other Oath Keepers, in addition to the 11 charged with seditious conspiracy, have already pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government. But James is the first to plead sedition, a rarely used and politically significant crime of conspiracy against the US government.

James made no statement in court other than to answer the judge’s questions. No sentencing date has been set, which is often done to allow defendants to cooperate first.

The plea marks the first successful use of a sedition charge by federal prosecutors in decades. Federal law defines seditious conspiracy as two or more persons who “conspire to overthrow, suppress, or destroy by force the government of the United States”, or act “by force to prevent, obstruct, or delay the execution of any law of the United States.”

The Post obtained hours of video footage, some exclusively, and placed it into a 3D digital model of the building. (The Washington Post)

In 2012, a judge dismissed seditious conspiracy charges against members of a far-right militia in Michigan, saying it was unclear whether they had developed concrete plans to attack the government.

Rhodes said the Oath Keepers were in Washington on January 6 to protect conservative figures, such as President Donald Trump’s confidant Roger Stone, from leftist attackers. According to court records, James and a fellow Oath Keeper provided security for Stone during Trump’s rally at the Ellipse on Jan. 6.

But their preparation for an assault on the Capitol began two days after the Nov. 3, 2020, election, according to federal prosecutors, when Rhodes allegedly told his supporters “to refuse to accept the election result and said, ‘We let’s not get through this without a civil war.

The indictment details two months of communications between Rhodes and other Oath Keeper members, including James, in which “Rhodes described a plan to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power, including preparations for the use of the force”. Rhodes pleaded not guilty and said members who entered the Capitol did so without his permission.

In the plea agreement, James agreed that Rhodes “charged [him] and others to be prepared and called upon to … use lethal force if necessary” to keep Trump in power, according to Mehta.

Prosecutors said James was part of an Oath Keepers leadership group that rounded up participants in the planned uprising. “SE Region creates NATIONAL CALL TO ACTION FOR DC JAN 6TH,” James posted on the “intel leadership chat” on Dec. 21, 2020. Ten days later, James wrote, “we have a…. charge by QRF [quick response force] waiting with an arsenal.

At around 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, prosecutors said James and other oath keepers, outfitted in tactical vests, hard-knuckle gloves, goggles and other combat gear, learned that the Capitol had been drilled and raced in golf carts. join the fray.

As a “stack” of oath keepers, including four of James’ co-defendants, ascended the Capitol steps and entered, another co-defendant reported that the “quick reaction force” was “standing at the hotel”. Just say a word,” according to the indictment. The first group entered, met police, searched for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), and then left, the indictment says.

James and at least two other oath keepers then entered the Capitol from the east side and joined a crowd jostling with police, and video shot by one of his co-defendants reportedly shows James grabbing an officer’s vest and trying to drag him into the mafia. Other officers then snatched the officer away from James, the indictment states.

James admitted Wednesday to using force against an officer inside the Capitol.

James was sprayed with chemicals and pushed out of the building by officers, prosecutors said. He joined Rhodes and others for a celebratory dinner in Vienna, Va., later that night, the indictment says. James met with Rhodes in Alabama and Texas in the weeks after the riot to plan further action, prosecutors say.


Washington

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