Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of the right-wing extremist group of the Oath Keepers, has been accused of ambitious conspiracy over his role in January 6 attack on the US Capitol, marking a major escalation in the federal investigation into the riots led by supporters of Donald Trump.
The charges are part of an indictment announced by the Justice Department on Thursday that charges 11 defendants with willful conspiracy and other charges related to the siege of the Capitol that disrupted certification of the killings. Joe Biden’s election and resulted in 5 deaths.
The first charges were brought against Rhodes, who was arrested Thursday in Little Elm, Texas, in connection with January 6. Another defendant, Edward Vallejo, was also charged and arrested for the first time. related to the riot. The remaining nine accomplices have faced separate charges related to the attack.
The Justice Department describes the Oath Keepers as a “large but loosely organized gathering of individuals, some of whom have links to militias”.
The indictment alleges that following the November 2020 election, Rhodes conspired with other defendants to “resist by coercive enforcement of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power,” by coordinated and traveled to Washington for election results certification and a plan to bring weapons to support their efforts, among other things.
The failure to seal the indictment marks an important step in the DoJ’s investigation into the January 6 attacks, just a week after the first anniversary of the riots.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland last week vowed to hold the January 6 perpetrators “at any level” to account, and defended his department’s work in pursuing those involved. Mandarin. Radicals have accused the DoJ of not acting aggressively enough in its pursuit of Trump and his supporters.
Garland said more than 725 defendants have been charged with criminal offenses in connection with the attack, and said more charges are likely to follow.
“In complex cases, the initial charges are often less serious than those charged later,” says Garland.
The DOJ investigation is being conducted separately from the congressional investigation led by a panel of members of the US House of Representatives.
The January 6 committee, led by Democrats and with only two Republicans in its ranks, solicited the testimony of dozens of former Trump administration officials in its pursuit of information related to the attack. public and the final days of his presidency.
Steve Bannon, a close ally of Trump, has indicted in November by a federal grand jury for contempt of Congress after he failed to comply with a subpoena issued by the committee. The former president has to sue The Commission and the United States National Archives in an attempt to prevent the release of documents relating to his final weeks in office.
In its latest intervention, the committee on Tuesday said it would request information from Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House. McCarthy said he would not voluntarily participate in the investigation, setting the stage for a possible subpoena in the coming weeks.