WASHINGTON – Oath Keepers founder Stuart Rhodes was convicted Tuesday of a seditious conspiracy to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory, giving the Justice Department a major victory in its massive prosecution of the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising.

A jury in Washington, D.C., found Rhodes guilty of sedition after three days of deliberations in a nearly two-month trial that exposed far-right extremist groups’ efforts to keep Republican Donald Trump in the White House at all costs.

The rarely used Civil War-era charge carries up to 20 years behind bars.

Rhodes did not enter the US Capitol on January 6, but was charged with a plot that began shortly after the 2020 election to stage an armed uprising to stop the transfer of presidential power.

Through tapes and coded messages, jurors heard Rhodes rally his followers to fight to keep Trump in office, warn of a possible “bloody” civil war and express regret that Oath Keepers did not bring rifles to the Capitol on Jan. 6.

In an extraordinary move, Rhodes and two other defendants took the stand in their own defense, opening themselves up to intense questioning by prosecutors. Rhodes told jurors there was no plan to attack the Capitol and insisted his supporters who entered the building were crooks.

On trial with Rhodes, of Granbury, Texas, were Kelly Maggs, leader of the Florida chapter of Oath Keepers; Kenneth Harrelson, another Florida Oath Keeper; Thomas Caldwell, a retired Navy intelligence officer from Virginia; and Jessica Watkins, who led the Ohio militia group.

Copyright © 2022, The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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