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The Oath Keepers seditious conspiracy trial has been adjourned until September 1.
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The main trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four co-defendants charged with seditious conspiracy in the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack will be delayed until the end of September after a defense expert reported having found evidence of more communications on Rhodes’ phone with the accused co-conspirators than those turned over by federal prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of Washington postponed the July 11 trial date to September 19 or 26 after defendants said they needed more time to consider what they believe might be critical texts and cryptic messages implicating the most high-profile person charged in the sweeping Jan. 6 investigation.

Mehta acted after securing a promise that the co-defendants would not seek further delay barring extraordinary circumstances in the case, in which prosecutors brought the historically rare charge of seditious conspiracy against members of the extremist group Oath Keepers and accused Rhodes for guiding a month-long effort to unleash politically motivated violence to prevent President Biden from being sworn in.

“Do I have a commitment from each of you if I move the trial date to July, I will not receive another request to continue the trial in September absent something completely unforeseen at this point?” Mehta asked, drawing unanimous assurances.

Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes Charged With Seditious Conspiracy During Jan. 6 Capitol Riot

The delay is the latest in the case, which was originally scheduled to go to trial in April and is expected to last around a month, with one or more defendants testifying. Rhodes was added to the case in January when he and 10 co-defendants were charged in an indictment stating that he and the co-conspirators “plan to halt the lawful transfer of presidential power by 20 January 2021, which included multiple ways to deploy Force.” Charging documents allege the group coordinated travel, equipment and firearms and stashed weapons outside of Washington. They “were ready to heed Rhodes’ call to take up arms under his leadership”, the newspapers say.

Two of the original group members who were charged have since pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in exchange for leniency at sentencing — Joshua James, 34, of Arab, Ala., and Brian Ulrich, 44, of Guyton, Ga. A third William Todd Wilson, 44, a longtime Oath Keepers member and North Carolina chapter leader, did the same in a standalone case Wednesday.

Rhodes has denied any wrongdoing, including in an interview with The Washington Post last February, saying there were no plans to breach the Capitol. He said the group had staged firearms in northern Virginia in case it was needed as a “quick reaction force” if then-President Donald Trump invoked the Security Act. insurrection and mobilized to stay in power.

How Trump’s flirtation with an anti-insurgency law inspired the January 6 insurgency

All of those on trial have pleaded not guilty, including three defendants jailed since their arrest who face a federal jury in Washington with Rhodes – Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson of Florida, and Jessica Watkins of Ohio – as well as Thomas Caldwell of Virginia . Five other defendants who were due for a second trial in September were pushed back to trial from November 29.

A lawyer for David Moerschel, an accused member of Florida’s Oath Keepers, renewed a request for a postponement in a court filing on Wednesday, saying he believed with Harrelson and Watkins that they could not benefit from a trial fair in July given the amount of new evidence they had. revise.

Defense attorney Scott Weinberg said when prosecutors last October transmitted 14 chats from Rhodes’ phone, including 40,000 texts in the encrypted Signal app, it was just a subset. limited set of 15-25% of all these texts in one complete, raw Rhodes phone download.

Defense attorneys said they could not say how many messages were sent or received by the co-defendants or their relevance, but agreed that these messages are essential to proving or disproving the existence of a conspiracy in the ‘affair.

“The defense must be given sufficient time to review the complete and raw download of Mr. Rhodes’ phone in order to prepare for trial,” Weinberg wrote. US prosecutors said the government had turned over documents relevant to the investigation.

DOJ seeks to mount big conspiracy case against oath keepers for Jan. 6 riot

The most damaging evidence filed by the US government in the 48-page, 17-count indictment comes from the defendants’ own words, often shared via Signal. The indictment alleges that a core group of Rhodes’ most vocal adherents planned and participated in the obstruction of Congress on the day lawmakers certified Biden’s 2020 election victory.

The attack on the Capitol came after a rally outside the White House, during which then-President Donald Trump urged his supporters to come to Congress. Pro-Trump rioters injured dozens of police officers and ransacked Capitol offices, halting proceedings as lawmakers were evacuated from the House floor.

The government has charged more than two dozen suspected associates of the extremist anti-government group with conspiracy and complicity in obstructing Congress, crimes punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Plea documents show defendants admitting to allegations that they were part of a group that forced entry through the gates of the Capitol’s east rotunda after walking single file in a pile on the steps wearing life vests. camouflage, helmets, goggles and insignia of oath keepers. They acknowledged that some had brought guns to Washington that had been previously hidden in a Ballston hotel and another in Vienna.

In court filings, prosecutors alleged that the Oath Keepers group came to Washington at Rhodes’ request and claimed that Rhodes began discussing plans to forcibly keep Trump in the White House as early as Nov. 9. Prosecutors allege he exchanged dozens of encrypted messages. messages, phone calls and other communications with members of the group piled on the steps before and during the riot.


Washington

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