Stewart Rhodes' sentence is surprisingly low: former prosecutor
Stewart Rhodes in his booking photo from Thursday (Collin County Jail)

Stewart Rhodes, a key leader in the paramilitary group the Oath Keepers, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Thursday for seditious conspiracy relating to the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol — one of the toughest sentences in these prosecutions handed down to date.

But the sentence, handed down by U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, was actually a lot shorter than the 25 years prosecutors had recommended — and Mehta's decision was confusing, argued former federal prosecutor Shan Wu on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"Were these sentences, do you believe, in line with what you were expecting, particularly Stewart Rhodes' historic 18-year prison sentence?" asked anchor Wolf Blitzer.

"I was actually a little surprised that the judge was not harsher with Rhodes in light of what he said," said Wu. "Without going to the courtroom and hearing the judge's opinion on it, you wouldn't necessarily expect him to go to the top end. The Justice Department was asking for 25 years. But in light of what he said and his belief, as one of Rhodes' attorneys emphasized, that Rhodes would continue to be a danger, I would have actually expected him to be more closer to the Department's request for 25 years."

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It was worth noting, Wu continued, that "the other defendant expressed remorse. Remorse goes a long way in reducing the sentence. Here, buys him six less years."

But by contrast, "Rhodes being such a mastermind and his extraordinarily reckless doubling down on the lies and how he still thinks that the Biden administration is illegitimate, I would have expected, as a defense counsel, the judge would have gone more in line with the DOJ," said Wu.

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Shan Wu says Stewart Rhodes got a surprisingly low sentence