The federal criminal trial of the Oath Keepers leadership concluded today with a verdict that was split but overwhelmingly in favor of the DOJ. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and one of his associates were convicted of seditious conspiracy. The other Oath Keepers on trial were acquitted on seditious conspiracy but were convicted on lesser charges. This shakes things up quite dramatically.
First, it demonstrates that the DOJ is capable of getting a conviction at trial on seditious conspiracy – a rarely brought charge with a high burden of proof – in relation to January 6th. This gives the DOJ grounds for bringing seditious conspiracy charges against others who were allegedly closely involved in planning the events of January 6th, including Alex Jones, Roger Stone, and yes, Donald Trump.
For that matter the DOJ will attempt to get Rhodes and/or his associate, who are now set to spend the bulk of the remainder of their lives in prison, to cut a cooperation deal against these bigger fish. Some folks on social media are convinced that Rhodes will “never flip no matter what” but that’s not how things work. For one thing, Rhodes has to consider flipping before his associate can, because the first to flip gets the better deal.
Today was also a reminder that the DOJ cannot just slap seditious conspiracy charges on everyone who so much as gave a speech or raised a fist on January 6th and expect those charges to magically stick at trial. Even with significant damning evidence against each of today’s defendants, the jury still only convicted two of them on seditious conspiracy. The lesser charge of obstructing Congress is obviously the easier conviction to obtain.
In any case, today should silence two groups of whiners. The first is the right wing group of whiners who have insisted that January 6th couldn’t have been an insurrection because no leaders had been convicted of charges along those lines. The second group of whiners? The folks on our side who have insisted the DOJ was doing “nothing” and that it was letting them “get away with it all.”
Today showed how things actually work in the real world, and how they’ll continue to work as the DOJ targets the biggest January 6th fish – including Donald Trump – in upcoming indictments.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report