WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal jury weighed seditious conspiracy charges against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four associates for a second day without reaching a verdict Monday in a high-stakes trial stemming from the U.S. Capitol attack.
Jurors are expected to resume their deliberations Tuesday. They started last Tuesday before taking a Thanksgiving break.
Rhodes and his co-defendants are accused of a weekslong plot to stop the transfer of power from Republican Donald Trump to Democrat Joe Biden. Prosecutors say the plot came to a head on Jan. 6, 2021 when Rhodes’ followers stormed the Capitol alongside hundreds of other angry Trump supporters.
Hundreds of people have been convicted in the Capitol attack that left dozens of officers injured and sent lawmakers running for their lives. Jurors in the Oath Keepers case will decide, for the first time, whether the actions of any Jan. 6 defendants amount to seditious conspiracy — a rarely used charge that carries both significant prison time and political weight.
Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, is on trial with Thomas Caldwell, of Berryville, Virginia; Jessica Watkins, of Woodstock, Ohio; Kelly Meggs, of Dunnellon, Florida; and Kenneth Harrelson of Titusville, Florida.
They would be the first people convicted of seditious conspiracy at trial since the 1995 prosecution of Islamic militants who plotted to bomb New York City landmarks. The charge calls for up to 20 years behind bars. The five defendants also face several other charges.
Throughout the nearly two-month-long trial, defense attorneys argued there was never any plot, that prosecutors have twisted their admittedly bombastic words. Defense lawyers argued that the Oath Keepers who did enter the Capitol were swept up in a spontaneous outpouring of election-fueled rage rather than acting as part of a plot.
Rhodes took the witness stand to tell jurors that he had no idea that his followers were going to storm the Capitol and that he was upset after he found out that some did. Rhodes said he believed it was stupid for any Oath Keepers to go into the Capitol and insisted that was not their “mission.”