Who are the Oath Keepers charged with seditious conspiracy?

The U.S. Capitol.
The U.S. Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Stewart Rhodes and eight others who prosecutors say were members of his extremist Oath Keepers group faced trial or are set for trial on charges of seditious conspiracy and other counts in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Rhodes and four others were convicted Tuesday after a two-month trial in federal court in Washington. A jury found Rhodes and another top deputy guilty of seditious conspiracy for steering a months-long effort to prevent by force the swearing-in of President Biden; three more defendants were acquitted on that charge but found guilty of obstructing Congress and other charges.

The government said Rhodes and followers were ready to take up arms in an attack on democracy and the peaceful transfer of power. Dressed in combat-style gear, they converged on the Capitol after staging what prosecutors described as an “arsenal” of weapons at nearby hotels. Rhodes had argued he and co-defendants came to Washington as bodyguards and peacekeepers, bringing firearms only in case Trump met their demand to mobilize private militia to stop Biden from becoming president.

Here is a look at the Oath Keepers who have been convicted and who has yet to face trial.

Oath Keepers sedition trial could reveal new info about Jan. 6 plotting

Stewart Rhodes

Stewart Rhodes, 57, founded the extremist anti-government Oath Keepers in 2009, recruiting from U.S. law enforcement and military veterans and predicting that the federal government would seize Americans’ guns and impose a totalitarian socialist state. A Yale Law School graduate and former Army paratrooper and aide to libertarian congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.), Rhodes did not enter the Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot, but prosecutors alleged that he directed others in his group to take any action necessary to keep Biden out of office.

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What to know about the Oath Keepers sedition trial

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Rhodes testified that he was unaware that his group stored firearms in Northern Virginia and that he did not tell anyone to go into the Capitol. But he acknowledged repeatedly saying his armed followers would take the government by force if President Donald Trump mobilized armed militias under the Insurrection Act. In Rhodes’s view, such an invocation would have given his group legal cause to act. Prosecutors have countered that the Oath Keepers were using the Insurrection Act as legal cover for their crimes and that even if those on trial sincerely believed Trump could have invoked the act, he did not and was not empowered to authorize a conspiracy to attack Congress or the presidential transition. Evidence shown at trial indicated that Rhodes also supported taking violent action with or without Trump’s approval.

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with documents or proceedings

Convicted of: seditious conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with documents or proceedings

Read more about Rhodes

Thomas Caldwell

Caldwell, 68, is a retired Navy intelligence officer and private federal contractor who lives in Berryville, Va. He has said he was not formally a member of the Oath Keepers. But court records show he hosted Oath Keepers at his home and joined Oath Keepers as they participated in a pro-Trump rally after the November 2020 election. He then helped members from various states line up hotel rooms in advance of Jan. 6, including in Ballston, a neighborhood in Arlington, Va., where a number of weapons were placed to be available to a “Quick Reaction Force,” prosecutors said. Caldwell did not enter the Capitol and testified that much of his rhetoric, such as a text message saying “lets storm the place and hang the traitors,” was “creative writing.”

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, tampering with documents or proceedings

Convicted of: obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with documents or proceedings

Read more about Caldwell

Kenneth Harrelson

Harrelson, 41, a former Army sergeant and welder from Titusville, Fla., organized Oath Keepers leadership calls, joined in “unconventional military training” and was named “Ground Team lead” for Jan. 6 by fellow Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs, prosecutors alleged. Prosecutors say Harrelson brought weapons to Washington and was one of the first Oath Keepers to join a mob gathering at the East Capitol steps, before falling in with a “stack” of co-defendants — a line formation designed for a forced entry — who forced their way past police. Government witnesses said at trial they were unable to recover many of his communications around Jan. 6, and in some he discussed destroying evidence. His attorney said at trial that Harrelson had no idea how the congressional process worked and only went inside the Capitol to help police; officers who testified disputed that the Oath Keepers were helpful.

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, tampering with documents or proceedings

Convicted of: conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with documents or proceedings

Kelly Meggs

Meggs, 53, an auto dealership manager of Dunnellon, Fla., is accused of acting as the Oath Keepers “Florida state lead” on Jan. 6, paying for two Ballston hotel rooms occupied by armed “Quick Reaction Force” teams and setting two entry points for them to come to Washington by road or boat, if needed. Prosecutors say Rhodes and Meggs spoke at 2:32 p.m., minutes before a group filed up the Capitol steps and joined a mob that forced its way through the East Rotunda doors. Meggs had several contacts with Trump political confidant Roger Stone, according to court filings.

Evidence showed he organized an “alliance” with Florida Three Percenters and Proud Boys. He also “orchestrated a plan” with the Proud Boys ahead of Jan. 6. He told Oath Keepers recruits that “we don’t have to play by their rules” and that they needed to “wait patiently and then be the leaders” of a revolt against the government. After Jan. 6 he stayed in touch with Rhodes, saying he would stay in Florida “until shots fired.”

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, tampering with documents or proceedings

Convicted of: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with documents or proceedings

Jessica Watkins

Watkins, an Army veteran and bar owner, was accused of merging her local Ohio militia with the Oath Keepers in 2020. She became a recruiter and organizer in advance of the Capitol attack and was involved in plans to store weapons outside D.C., according to prosecutors. Like Rhodes, she expressed hope that Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act and deploy militias to the Capitol. She entered the building in a military-style “stack” with other Oath Keepers as rioters breached doors on the east side, telling them to “push” and “get in there,” court records say. She testified that she was arming herself not for insurrection but in case the United Nations and China invaded the United States. She also apologized for going into the Capitol, calling herself “gullible” and her actions “stupid.”

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, trespassing, and assaulting, impeding or resisting officers, civil disorder

Convicted of: conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, trespassing, and assaulting, impeding or resisting officers, civil disorder

Read more about Watkins

Those charged with Rhodes but set to go to trial in December:

Joseph Hackett

Hackett, a Sarasota chiropractor, is accused of helping lead a group of Florida Oath Keepers that traveled to D.C. and entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 in a military-style “stack.” He trained with other Oath Keepers in the use of firearms in advance of the riot, according to prosecutors, and took long guns to a Ballston hotel where the group had positioned a “Quick Reaction Force.” In planning for Jan. 6, he urged other members of the group to use anonymous and untraceable communications, prosecutors say.

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, tampering with documents or proceedings

Read more about Hackett

Roberto Minuta

Minuta was designated by Rhodes as “a lifetime Oath Keeper” in May 2020 for keeping his New Jersey tattoo parlor open in defiance of pandemic restrictions, according to court records. He and other Oath Keepers were with Stone at a D.C. hotel on Jan. 6, according to court documents.

When he learned that the Capitol had been breached, prosecutors say, Minuta shouted, “Now we’re talking, that’s what I came up here for!” and rode a golf cart from Stone’s hotel over to join the riot with other Oath Keepers who have since pleaded guilty. Minuta is accused of taunting and berating police officers outside the Capitol, then entering the building armed with bear spray in a second Oath Keepers “stack.” His wife has said he went into the building only to provide aid.

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with documents

Read more about Minuta

David Moerschel

Prosecutors allege that Moerschel, 44, of Punta Gorda, Fla., began joining other members of the Oath Keepers in his home state as early as Nov. 9, 2020, to start planning a trip to D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021. They allege that he helped transport guns and ammunition to a hotel in Ballston for use by a “Quick Reaction Force.”

He was photographed as part of a “stack” of Oath Keepers that helped rioters break police lines on the east side of the Capitol, and prosecutors allege that he fought with police in a failed attempt to enter the Senate chamber. He and others with him then searched in vain for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Moerschel is married with three small children, according to a fundraising website started by his wife.

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, destruction of government property, tampering with documents or proceedings

Read more about Moerschel

Edward Vallejo

Vallejo, a 64-year-old Army veteran who lives in Phoenix, traveled from Arizona to the D.C. area with other Oath Keepers, staying in the Comfort Inn Ballston and overseeing the weapons and ammunition meant for the “Quick Reaction Force,” prosecutors allege. They say that Vallejo was on standby across the Potomac River from D.C., awaiting a call from the Oath Keepers to bring the weapons into D.C., and that he spoke on a podcast on Jan. 6 about the possibility of “armed conflict” and “guerrilla war.” The indictment alleges that he messaged the group’s leaders, “QRF standing by at hotel. Just say the word.” But prosecutors do not say he entered D.C. that day.

Charged with: seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties.

Read more about Vallejo

The Oath Keepers trial

The latest: Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Closing arguments at the Oath Keepers trial capped the highest-profile prosecution to arise from the 2021 Capitol chaos.

How did we get here: Stewart Rhodes and other members of his group have been charged with seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Who is involved: A 13-count indictment charges Stewart Rhodes and eight others with conspiring to use force to oppose the lawful transfer of power to President Biden. Here are the nine Oath Keepers on trial.

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