BOZEMAN - The leader of the Oath Keepers is being advised by a notorious extremist in Montana, ahead of his trial for seditious conspiracy.
"A perennial political candidate from Montana who was once denied admission to the bar because of his criminal record and “connections to white supremacy groups” has been playing a behind the scenes role in the defense of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, one of the alleged organizers of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol," Politico reported Wednesday. "Lawyer Roger Roots, who has mounted long shot libertarian bids for office in Montana in every election since 2012, has been assisting a lawyer newly tapped by Rhodes to mount a last-ditch drive to postpone Rhodes’ looming trial for seditious conspiracy, slated to begin Sept. 26."
U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta did not allow the delay for Rhodes to bring on Ted Tarpley of Louisiana.
"Rhodes, in the same motion, attempted to fire his attorneys and replace them with Tarpley, but the Oath Keepers’ founder ultimately opted to maintain his legal team, which has handled his case for the last eight months," Politico reported. "However, Roots’ involvement escaped mention during last week’s court hearing, during which Mehta attempted to keep the complex, five-defendant trial on track. POLITICO located Roots’ name in metadata associated with Tarpley’s initial court filing seeking a delay and change of counsel. In an interview, Tarpley acknowledged that Roots advised him in writing it."
Roots has been a leading far-right voice in Montana for a quarter-century.
"Roots, 54, has a highly unusual history for a lawyer. He’s got two felony convictions, served time in federal prison and authored articles in the 1990s expressing racist views and referring to the U.S. government as a 'Zionist Occupation Government,' according to an opinion the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued in 2000 denying him admission to that state’s bar at that time," Politico noted. "Roots worked in 1994 as a paid staffer on the reelection campaign of the late Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), but did so under a pseudonym, according to the court opinion. Roots was eventually 'terminated because of his unsavory associations with white supremacist activists,' the court said."
Roots and Rhodes have a Federalist Society nexus.
"Roots’ precise relationship to Rhodes is unclear. He indicated in a Facebook post earlier this year that their relationship extends back to college, when Rhodes was at Yale Law School and led the student Federalist Society chapter and Roots led the corresponding group at Roger Williams University," Politico reported. "Prosecutors have cast Rhodes as the ringleader of a brazen plot to forcibly disrupt the transition of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden, assembling a team of fellow Oath Keepers to amass weapons in Arlington, Va. and encouraged Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act to keep Biden from office."
Read the full report.