Jury Begins Deliberation in Oath Keepers Trial

A US jury is set to deliberate federal seditious conspiracy charges for the first time in over a decade, as government prosecutors attempt to argue that members of the Oath Keepers plotted to oppose the peaceful transfer of power by force in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2020 Capitol riots.

Jury Begins Deliberation in Oath Keepers Trial
Image credit: wapo

Facts

  • A US jury is set to deliberate federal seditious conspiracy charges for the first time in over a decade, as government prosecutors attempt to argue that members of the Oath Keepers plotted to oppose the peaceful transfer of power by force in the lead-up to the Jan. 6, 2020 Capitol riots.
  • Five members and supporters of the Oath Keepers militia, including founder Stewart Rhodes, also face multiple lesser charges such as obstructing officers and destroying government property. The Dept. of Justice (DOJ) hasn't successfully prosecuted anyone for sedition since 1995 when a group of Islamic militants was convicted of plotting to plant bombs in New York City.
  • Prosecutors used dozens of encrypted messages sent leading up to the riots — including those in which Rhodes reportedly claimed that he and his followers might need to "rise up in insurrection."
  • All five defendants have pleaded not guilty and, if convicted of the most serious charges, may face over 20 years in prison. District Judge Amit Mehta told the jury on Monday that "the case is finally yours, after all these weeks," following two months of being presented evidence.
  • The defense has accused federal prosecutors of manipulating evidence by omitting key messages and overstating the group's involvement at the Capitol riots. The Jury began deliberations on Tuesday morning and plans to take off the rest of Thanksgiving week if no verdict is reached.

Sources: NBC, BBC News, Guardian, CNN, and Washington Post.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by CNN. This trial is a major test of the DOJ's belief that far-right extremists plotted against the peaceful transfer of power. If the jury sides with the prosecution, then the DOJ can strongly dispel claims that the riot wasn't as bad as the federal government has consistently argued.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Media Matters. The government has unsurprisingly painted a completely distorted picture of events. If heated, hyperbolic rhetoric amounted to sedition, most of modern America would find themselves charged. Discourse surrounding revolution is deep-rooted in the country's history and culture, and cherry-picking such sentences to claim that a major conspiracy was afoot shouldn't be taken seriously.

Predictions