Oath Keepers founder's Jan. 6 legal defense hinges on Trump
Driving the news: Lawyers for Stewart Rhodes are prepared to argue that their client was anticipating former President Trump would use powers under the Insurrection Act to form a militia, and that is why Rhodes and his group made preparations to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Flashback: Rhodes was the most prominent of 10 defendants charged with seditious conspiracy for his role in the lead-up to and day of the Capitol riot. He is among the first Jan. 6 defendants to be tried on the charge.
- The Department of Justice alleged that after the 2020 presidential election, Rhodes "conspired with his co-defendants and others to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021."
What’s they’re saying: Even though Trump never invoked the Insurrection Act, Rhodes’ attorneys say that their client was “actually lobbying and [preparing] for the President to utilize” the law, AP reports.
- Rhodes' defense hinges on persuading jurors that he was awaiting direct orders from Trump.
- “This is an incredibly complicated defense of theory and I don’t think that it’s ever played out in this fashion in American jurisprudence,” said James Lee Bright, one of Rhodes’ lawyers, per AP.
Yes, but: Prosecutors are prepared to demonstrate Rhodes’ group was preparing for the Capitol siege regardless of Trump’s intentions.
- In an open letter on the Oath Keepers’ website, Rhodes called on the then-president to use the Insurrection Act to “stop the steal and defeat the coup.”
- In a court filing, prosecutors have referenced a message Rhodes wrote saying Trump “needs to know that if he fails to act, then we will,” AP reports.
What we’re watching: Opening statements in Rhodes’ trial are scheduled for Monday.