On Tuesday, two top leaders of the Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot. The riot was an attempt to overturn the 2020 election in favor of former President Donald Trump.
Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and top lieutenant Kelly Meggs were found guilty of the charge. The jury acquitted three other Oath Keepers—Kenneth Harrelson, Thomas Caldwell, and Jessica Watkins—of seditious conspiracy.
Three Oath Keepers previously pled guilty to seditious conspiracy.
The verdict against Rhodes and Meggs followed a weeks-long trial and three days of jury deliberations.
The members of the far-right militia are among only a handful of people ever charged with seditious conspiracy in U.S. history. This is the most serious charge levied against the hundreds of people being prosecuted over their roles in the Capitol riot.
In convicting Rhodes and Meggs, the jury deemed that they were attempting to overthrow the government during the Capitol riot. The Oath Keepers sought to downplay their plans and claim they were merely present in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 to protect against left-wing violence.
Jurors rejected this argument from Rhodes and Meggs. It is not clear what factors or evidence led jurors to acquit the other three.
All five were convicted of additional charges.
Prosecutors presented internal communications, phone records, and recordings to build the case against the men. Other Oath Keepers also cooperated with the government and testified against them.
“They claimed to wrap themselves in the Constitution. They trampled it instead. They claimed to be saving the Republic, but they fractured it instead,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler reportedly argued at trial.
Top members of the far-right Proud Boys are also facing charges of seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in the Capitol riot. Their trial is scheduled for next month. One Proud Boy has pled guilty to the charge.
Seditious conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.