Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes sentenced to 18 years in prison
Stewart Rhodes, founder and leader of the far-right Oath Keepers group, was sentenced on Thursday to 18 years in prison for helming widespread efforts to keep then-President Donald Trump in power, which ultimately culminated in his followers attacking the U.S. Capitol.
Rhodes is the first person charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack to be sentenced for seditious conspiracy, and his punishment is the most severe yet to be handed down in connection with the politically charged riot. He was convicted in November along with Kelly Meggs, a fellow Oath Keepers member who is slated to be sentenced later Thursday afternoon.
“You, sir, present an ongoing threat and a peril to this country and to the republic and to the very fabric of this democracy,” U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta said.
When given an opportunity to speak, Rhodes declared he was a “political prisoner,” claiming the only crime he committed was standing against those who are “destroying our country.” He added that he hopes former President Donald Trump wins the election in 2024.
“You are not a political prisoner, Mr. Rhodes,” Mehta fired back, adding that he was found guilty “not because of your beliefs, not because you supported the other guy, not because Joe Biden is president right now,” but because of his actions leading up to and after Jan. 6.
“They won’t fear us until we come with rifles in hand,” Rhodes wrote in a message before the attack. And in wake of the chaos, in a recording that was played in court during his trial, he said his only regret was that they “should have brought rifles.”
The Justice Department had requested a 25-year prison sentence for Rhodes, arguing in court documents filed earlier this month that he should face “swift and severe punishment” for his conduct, which “created a grave risk to our democratic system of government.”
During the Thursday hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy said Rhodes “doggedly drilled” Trump’s false claims of election fraud into the minds of his followers, which he continues to do in speeches delivered from behind bars. Just days ago, Rhodes called for “regime change,” the prosecutor said.
Rhodes’ lawyer has already declared they plan to appeal the conviction, arguing that prosecutors are unfairly trying to make Rhodes “the face” of January 6.
With News Wire Services