In a major move Thursday, the Justice Department charged a member of the Oath Keepers and 10 others with seditious conspiracy. While many activists have called the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol an example of a "coup" or sedition, this is the first time that the DOJ has officially acknowledged that the incident is legally an attack on the U.S. government.
It is a conspiracy because more than one person was coordinating together, as Los Angeles Times legal affairs columnist Harry Litman explained.
statute (\u00a72384):"If two or more persons ...conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the US, ...or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the US.."— Harry Litman (@Harry Litman) 1642099934
Treason compared with sedition and insurrection are very different, as Jeff Nilsson explained in the Saturday Evening Post.
"While sedition is organized incitement to rebellion or civil disorder against the state’s authority, insurrection involves actual acts of violence against the state or its officers," he wrote a few weeks after the Jan. 6 attack. "Sedition and insurrection are quite distinct from treason, which is a violation of a citizen’s allegiance to the U.S. by betrayal or aiding the country’s enemies."
"A fully armed, trained, and organized force prepared to overturn the government by force to help Donald Trump," is the specific phrase the indictment says. It's something Above The Law's Bradley Moss called
This thing is terrifying to read. A fully armed, trained, and organized force prepared to overturn the government by force to help Donald Trump.https://twitter.com/ryanjreilly/status/1481703455446257677\u00a0\u2026— Bradley P. Moss (@Bradley P. Moss) 1642100656
Speaking to MSNBC, former federal prosecutor Joyce White Vance explained that none of these charges would have been brought if they didn't have all of the details.
Additional legal experts like Marcy Wheeler noted Oath Keeper Stewart Rhodes led many other members of the militia to believe that an Insurrection Act would be declared after Jan. 6.
NBC News White House Correspondent Josh Lederman also noted that he doesn't foresee Rhodes trying to make a plea deal. It may not be an option on the table if the Justice Department isn't interested and especially if Rhodes has information on anyone at the White House or a member of Congress.
Wheeler encouraged the other 10 Oath Keepers to flip against Rhodes as soon as they can.
I I were a senior Proud Boy I'd run, don't walk, to flip now, while I could.— emptywheel (@emptywheel) 1642099887
The Nation's legal analyst Elie Mystel doesn't anticipate there would be a plea deal because he thinks Rhodes will try and milk it as much as he can.
Uhhh... no... I do not think that the Yale Law libertarian man is going to plea and flip. I think he's going to milk this for all its worth.— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1642100053
This tweet aged like a racoon on a highwaypic.twitter.com/rOFgcE5PkF— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1642100291
Note that Stewart Rhodes had led multiple Oath Keepers to believe an insurrection act call was coming in the days AFTER Jan 6.https://www.emptywheel.net/2021/08/25/its-really-difficult-to-determine-whats-real-and-whats-fake-at-least-three-oath-keepers-believed-trump-invoked-the-insurrection-act-on-january-10/\u00a0\u2026— emptywheel (@emptywheel) 1642099060
Finally. An indictment for seditious conspiracy, the closest crime we have to treason.\n\nLet the games begin.https://twitter.com/DOJNatSec/status/1481697172538155014\u00a0\u2026— Asha Rangappa (@Asha Rangappa) 1642100130
And there you go -- finally, a seditious conspiracy charge, because they decided they could prove the requisite intent.— PoundPoundPoundHat (@PoundPoundPoundHat) 1642100109
The seditious conspiracy charge is a MASSIVE deal. Here are some past @lawfareblog posts about seditious conspiracy, to tide you over as we digest this indictment.https://twitter.com/ZoeTillman/status/1481697066502008840\u00a0\u2026— Alan Rozenshtein (@Alan Rozenshtein) 1642099455
Does \u201cseditious conspiracy\u201d count?\n\nhttps://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/13/us/politics/oath-keepers-leader-arrested-in-jan-6-investigation.html\u00a0\u2026https://twitter.com/brithume/status/1481649782841962500\u00a0\u2026— Peter Strzok (@Peter Strzok) 1642099468
Rhodes had claimed that Oath Keepers went \u201coff mission\u201d by entering the Capitol on Jan 6. But at least four members who are cooperating w/ the govt have sworn in court papers the group intended to breach the building we the goal of obstructing the final certification of the vote.https://twitter.com/alanfeuer/status/1481691152071942148\u00a0\u2026— Vera Bergengruen (@Vera Bergengruen) 1642098504
Those who say DOJ hasn't delivered on the most serious charges have to be quieted today -- seditious conspiracy about as serious as it gets.— Harry Litman (@Harry Litman) 1642099714
3. @misstessowen reported in 2021 with photos:\n\nOath Keepers who provided security for Roger Stone at rally on January 5 were "wearing 'All Access' passes on lanyards."\n\nhttps://www.vice.com/en/article/7k9mpd/roger-stone-used-the-oath-keepers-as-security-on-the-eve-of-the-capitol-riot\u00a0\u2026pic.twitter.com/yS02CS2jag— Ryan Goodman (@Ryan Goodman) 1642099172
Here's the list of the seditious conspiracy defendants: they're the ones who collected weapons at the Quality Inn Ballston.pic.twitter.com/RZWPrvT9tC— emptywheel (@emptywheel) 1642099427
I'd be shocked if anyone in Fox's primetime slots spends more than 4 minutes talking about seditious conspiracy charges being filed today against the Oath Keepers.— Bradley P. Moss (@Bradley P. Moss) 1642098916
Prosecutors say two weeks before Jan. 6, Rhodes posted to an Oath Keepers chat that Congress would "screw" Trump: "The only chance we/he has is if we scare the shit out of them."pic.twitter.com/ZjM1dbGxoO— Brad Heath (@Brad Heath) 1642100757
Here's a thread from July showing the Oath Keepers who got charged carting their weapons around the Quality Inn.https://twitter.com/emptywheel/status/1411684564158881796\u00a0\u2026— emptywheel (@emptywheel) 1642100964
It\u2019s an obvious point, but it\u2019s satisfying finally to hit the level of conduct that is condign with what we all saw January 6 -\u2013 not trespass, not unlawful entry, but an effort to frustrate and overthrow the exercise of legitimate government power.— Harry Litman (@Harry Litman) 1642101260
Happy to say I called this when the texts first came out.pic.twitter.com/qIESFTlpIt— emptywheel (@emptywheel) 1642101572
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