Legal expert explains why Oath Keepers convictions are such a big deal
Stewart Rhodes (Photo by Nicholas Kamm for AFP)

On Tuesday's edition of MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance explained the deep significance of the convictions the Justice Department secured against members of the far-right paramilitary group the Oath Keepers.

Leader Stewart Rhodes and one of his key associates Kelly Meggs, were found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Several other members were also found guilty of various other offenses. However, argued Vance, it was the seditious conspiracy charges that were massively important.

"I'm looking at the charges ... Kelly Meggs and, I think, Jessica Watkins, this jury found them guilty — no, Kelly Meggs, one, two, three, four, five charges for which Meggs was found guilty, Stewart Rhodes — a huge pileup of guilty convictions for DOJ today from this jury," said anchor Nicolle Wallace.

"This is an enormous win for the government," said Vance. "There are some split verdicts. You know, as a prosecutor, Nicolle, you hate seeing a jury go out for a holiday while they're in the middle of deliberations. That always slows things down. Maybe that impacted the verdict here, maybe it didn't. This was a very solid result for the government."

"The last time seditious conspiracy was charged, the case resulted in the judge dismissing the indictment because it's such a difficult, such an unusual sort of charge to bring," continued Vance. "It involves an agreement, and that's the essence of a conspiracy indictment. It's an inchoate crime. That means they didn't get it across the finish line. Because Congress has set forth the series of rules that say we're concerned about groups of individuals who agree to break the law, we have these statutes, but they can be tough to prove."

"If you're going to charge seditious conspiracy, this is the case to do it in," she added. "These are people who tried to interfere with certification of a presidential election, so the result today gives DOJ a little bit of momentum, a little bit of wind in its sails because it is clear that Stewart Rhodes is not the most culpable participant in the events on January 6th. There are people who are more accountable, people who had greater intent to interfere with the transfer of powers, and now DOJ can go about that business having won this case."

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