The founder and leader of the Oath Keepers militia remained in jail after his first court appearance on Friday, a day after he was arrested on charges that he plotted with others to attack the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory.
The seditious conspiracy charges against Stewart Rhodes and 10 other Oath Keepers members or associates are the first to be levied in connection with the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021. They are the first to be brought in over a decade by the Justice Department.
A federal magistrate judge in Plano, Texas, ordered Rhodes, 56, of Granbury, Texas, to be held in custody until a detention hearing next Thursday.
An Arizona man who was charged in the same indictment as Rhodes and other Oath Keepers members made his first court appearance on Friday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine ordered Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, to remain in jail until a detention hearing next Thursday.
Rhodes and Vallejo were arrested Thursday. The nine others charged in the seditious conspiracy indictment had already been indicted on charges related to the Capitol siege.
On Friday, the top leader of another far-right extremist group with members charged in the Capitol riot was released from jail in Washington, D.C. Video posted on social media showed Tarrio emerging from jail and hugging loved ones, carrying his belongings in several white plastic trash bags.
I feel great," he told reporters as he loaded his bags into a car.
Tarrio was arrested in Washington two days before the Capitol riot and charged with burning a Black Lives Matter banner that had been ripped from a local Black church during an earlier rally by then-President Donald Trump's supporters. Tarrio pleaded guilty to felony charges of destruction of property and attempted possession of a large-capacity ammunition feeding device.
Tarrio noted that the jail facility of the city still holds several defendants charged in the Capitol riot.
Tarrio said that I was more worried about them than about myself.
The indictment charging Rhodes and other oath keepers of seditious conspiracy states that they discussed trying to overturn the election results and prepare for a siege by purchasing weapons and setting up battle plans. On January 6, several members wearing camouflaged combat attire shouldered their way through the crowd and into the Capitol in a military-style stack formation, authorities say.
Rhodes was not allowed entry into the Capitol building on January 6 but is accused of helping put the violence into motion.
The group has a plan to use force on Jan. 6, according to authorities, who said Rhodes was part of an encrypted Signal chat with Oath Keepers from multiple states. On June 6th, authorities said Rhodes told the group over Signal: All I see Trump doing is complaining. I see no intent by him to do anything. The patriots are taking it into their own hands. They had enough. Vallejo is accused of co-ordinating what federal authorities say were quick reaction force teams that the Oath Keepers stationed outside Washington on standby with weapons that could be shuttled to group members and associates.
On January 6th, officials said Vallejo, Rhodes and others met at a restaurant in Vienna, Virginia to celebrate the attack on the Capitol.
In 2010 a seditious conspiracy case was filed against members of a Michigan militia. A judge ordered acquittals on the sedition conspiracy charges, saying prosecutors didn't prove that the Hutaree militia members had detailed plans for a rebellion. Three members of the militia pleaded guilty to weapons charges.
Rhodes, a former U.S. Army paratrooper and Yale Law School graduate, founded the Oath Keepers in 2009. The right-wing extremist group recruits current and former military, police and first responders.