Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, was convicted on charges of seditious conspiracy and other crimes. Prosecutors asked for Rhodes to get a 25 year sentence earlier this month after his conviction.
Rhodes remained off the front lines where his “soldiers” were positioned and stayed outside the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, but coordinated with militia members who stormed the building.
The sentence is the longest yet given to a Capitol rioter. Judge Amit Mehta handed the militia leader an 18 year sentence for his crimes. While the judge didn’t go as far as the prosecutors wanted, she did lean towards prosecutors who argued for a stiffer sentence for Rhodes under what is called “terrorism enhancement.” They argued that the Oath Keepers sought to use “intimidation or coercion” against the US government.
The judge agreed.
Rhodes was also convicted last year of obstruction of an official proceeding and tampering with documents or proceedings in one of the highest-profile Capitol riot trials.
At a hearing on Thursday, the militia leader showed little remorse, making futile claims that he was a political prisoner and insisting the Oath Keepers only intended to protect other protesters. The judge didn’t buy it. Mehta rejected those claims and instead put the spotlight on Rhodes’ violent rhetoric, including threatening to hang former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Rhodes, was a former US Army paratrooper and Yale-educated lawyer. He founded the Oath Keepers back in 2009.
Rhodes began a campaign to reject the results of the election two days after the November 2020 vote, while ballots were still being counted.
Back then, he was singing a different tune than what he sang to the judge after being convicted when messaged supporters: “We aren’t getting through this without a civil war… Prepare your mind, body, spirit.”
During the riot itself, Stewart Rhodes stayed outside the building taking phone calls and messages while other Oath Keepers stormed the building. Prosecutors said he acted like a “battlefield general” during the melee.
Rhodes claimed those weapons were for “defensive” purposes only, but that was rejected by the judge and jury.
His lawyers claim they will appeal the conviction.