Jan 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Oath Keepers leader denied bail on Capitol riot sedition charge

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers.
Oath Keepers co-founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

A federal judge ordered Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes to remain jailed Wednesday until trial on charges stemming from the Capitol riot.

Why it matters: The judge said the most prominent far-right figure charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection had access to weapons and his alleged "continued advocacy for violence against the federal government" gave credence to prosecutors' view that, if released, Rhodes could endanger others.

  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson expressed concern in the 17-page detention order that Rhodes could be a flight risk, noting the Oath Keepers co-founder had installed "elaborate escape tunnels" in his backyard.
  • "The evidence shows Defendant orchestrated a large-scale attack on the federal government with the purpose of intimidating, by violence, federal officials and disrupting official governmental proceedings incident to the transfer of power in the Executive Branch following a national election," the judge added.
"On balance, the evidence in the record overall indicates Defendant's release could endanger the safety and wellbeing of others. This factor weighs in favor of detention ... [Rhodes' alleged] authoritative role in the conspiracy, access to substantial weaponry, and ability to finance any future insurrection, combined with his continued advocacy for violence against the federal government."
ā€” Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson

The big picture: The Oath Keepers leader, whose full name is Elmer Stewart Rhodes, has been detained since his arrest by the FBI earlier this month. He's charged with seditious conspiracy.

  • The indictment alleges that following the 2020 presidential election, Rhodes "conspired with his co-defendants and others to oppose by force .... the transfer of presidential power."
  • During the attack, Rhodes allegedly went to the restricted area of the Capitol grounds and told his followers to meet him at the Capitol. Oath Keepers members then marched "in a 'stack' formation" and made their way into the Capitol, according to prosecutors.

What to watch: Rhodes' lawyers said they will appeal the judge's decision, per the Washington Post.

Read the judge's order in full, via DocumentCloud:

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