WASHINGTON — The founding father of the far-right Oath Keepers has been sentenced to 18 years in federal jail in reference to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol following his conviction on seditious conspiracy.
The sentence for Stewart Rhodes is the longest imposed on a Jan. 6 defendant up to now. In a politically-charged speech within the courtroom simply earlier than his sentencing, Rhodes known as himself a “political prisoner” and stated that when he talked about “regime change” in a telephone name with supporters earlier this week, he meant he hopes that former President Donald Trump will win in 2024.
The decide disagreed that Rhodes had been locked up for politics, saying it was his actions that led to his legal convictions.
“You, sir, current an ongoing menace and a peril to this nation and to the republic and to the very material of this democracy,” Decide Amit Mehta stated earlier than handing down the sentence.
Rhodes was convicted of seditious conspiracy in November together with Kelly Meggs, a fellow Oath Keepers member who might be sentenced later Thursday afternoon.
“They will not concern us till we include rifles in hand,” Rhodes wrote in a message forward of the Jan. 6 assault. After the assault, in a recording that was performed in courtroom throughout his trial, he stated his solely remorse was that they “ought to have introduced rifles.”
Carrying an orange jail jumpsuit Thursday, Rhodes stated he believes the one crime he dedicated was opposing those that are “destroying our nation.”
Mehta informed Rhodes that he was discovered responsible of seditious conspiracy “not due to your beliefs, not since you supported the opposite man, not as a result of Joe Biden is president proper now,” however due to the information of the case, and his actions earlier than, throughout and after Jan. 6.
“You aren’t a political prisoner, Mr. Rhodes,” Mehta stated.
Rhodes and Meggs had been placed on trial alongside Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell, fellow Oath Keepers who had been convicted of obstruction of an official continuing and aiding and abetting, however not seditious conspiracy. Watkins and Harrelson might be sentenced on Friday.
Rhodes took the stand in his case, saying at trial that the opposite members of the Oath Keepers had been “silly” to storm the Capitol and that he disagreed with those that went inside; Rhodes didn’t enter the constructing. “I had no concept that any Oath Keeper was even enthusiastic about going inside or would go inside,” Rhodes stated.
However the authorities additionally produced messages wherein Rhodes stated he thought that Jan. 6 was the final alternative to cease what he noticed as a takeover of the federal government.
“On the sixth, they’re going to put the ultimate nail within the coffin of this Republic, until we battle our manner out. With Trump (ideally) or with out him, we’ve got no alternative,” Rhodes wrote in a message forward of Jan. 6.
He additionally celebrated Oath Keepers’ actions within the instant aftermath of the assault, after assembly with different members of the group at an Olive Backyard in Virginia that night time.
“Patriots, it was an extended day however a day when patriots started to face,” Rhodes wrote the night time of Jan. 6. “Stand now or kneel without end. Honor your oaths. Bear in mind your legacy.”
Previous to Thursday’s sentence, Peter Schwartz, who was armed with a picket tire knocker and engaged in a sequence of assaults on officers throughout the Capitol assault, had acquired the longest time behind bars for a Jan. 6 defendant: simply over 14 years. Schwartz had 38 prior convictions.