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‘Sense of entitlement’ drove Oath Keepers to storm Capitol, DOJ says in closing arguments

WASHINGTON — Members of the far-right Oath Keepers group seized the chance to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 as a part of a broader prison conspiracy to oppose the peaceable switch of energy, a Justice Division prosecutor instructed jurors throughout closing arguments of their seditious conspiracy trial on Friday.

“For these defendants, the assault on the Capitol was a way to an finish,” Assistant U.S. Lawyer Kathryn Rakoczy instructed jurors. The defendants have been pushed by a “sense of entitlement that led to frustration adopted by rage after which violence,” Rakoczy mentioned. 

Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and 4 others affiliated with the far-right group are dealing with prices of seditious conspiracy, a hardly ever used statute that makes it illegal to conspire towards the authority of the federal government.

Over the course of a seven-week trial which started with opening arguments on Oct. 3, jurors heard violent rhetoric geared toward Democrats and the group’s need to maintain former President Donald Trump in workplace. Prosecutors didn’t current proof that there was a pre-formed plan to storm the Capitol however argued that the alleged co-conspirators entered into an settlement to oppose the switch of energy from Trump to President Joe Biden.

Closing arguments are anticipated to proceed into Monday when the jury will start deliberating their verdict. Rhodes testified throughout the trial, as did co-defendants Thomas Caldwell and Jessica Watkins. Kelly Meggs and Kenneth Harrelson didn’t take the stand.

Prosecutors relied on testimony from Jason Dolan and Graydon Younger in addition to Terry Cummings, who instructed jurors that the group saved weapons at a Virginia resort as a part of a “fast response drive” (QRF) that Cummings mentioned featured extra weapons than he’d seen since he was within the U.S. navy.

James Lee Shiny, an lawyer for Rhodes, repeatedly instructed the jury that the federal government has offered no proof to again up what he referred to as “The Large 3”: “No plan to storm the Capitol. No plan to breach the rotunda. No plan to cease the certification or delay the certification of the election.”

Members of the Oath Keepers at the Capitol
Members of the Oath Keepers on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP file

Shiny instructed jurors there was not proof of a “assembly of the minds” on seditious conspiracy. 

“We’ve had 50 witnesses on this case, not one particular person has testified to you there was a plan,” Shiny mentioned. “Not one.”

If Rhodes actually wished to take over the Capitol, Shiny argued, he would have referred to as within the QRF after the constructing’s doorways have been breached and despatched in a few of his finest fighters, like Michael Greene, he mentioned.

“You’re both the Keystone Cops of insurrectionists or there was no riot,” Shiny mentioned.

Oath Keepers have been upset concerning the outcomes of the 2020 election, however them venting their frustrations to one another doesn’t represent a conspiracy, Shiny argued.

“It was heated rhetoric,” he mentioned. “Horribly heated rhetoric. Bombast. Inappropriate. However that’s not indicative of an settlement.”

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and four others charged with seditious conspiracy in Capitol attack
Oath Keepers chief Stewart Rhodes and 4 others charged with seditious conspiracy within the Capitol assault sit throughout their trial in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 6.Dana Verkouteren / AP file

Rakoczy, arguing for the federal government, reminded jurors that Rhodes had began speaking about civil conflict simply after the 2020 election.

“‘We’re not getting by this with no civil conflict. Put together your thoughts physique and spirit’ — these have been the phrases of Stewart Rhodes on November 5, 2020, two days after the presidential election,” she mentioned. “Defendant Rhodes referred to as for conflict with all of its horrors and all of its violence to oppose the outcomes of a presidential election.”

Proof confirmed that the defendants agreed to “use any means crucial, as much as and together with drive, to cease the lawful switch of presidential energy,” she mentioned. “That could be a conspiracy.”

The assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6 was only a “means to an finish” in assist of their bigger purpose of overturning the election outcomes and stopping Joe Biden from turning into president, she argued.

“Mr. Rhodes instructed you in his personal phrases he was ready to begin a rebel the day that president Biden took workplace,” Rakoczy mentioned, referring again to Rhodes’ testimony in his personal protection. 

Rakoczy additionally centered on requires violence and rebel in messages despatched by the defendants, saying, “that’s simply what they put in writing.” The defendants absolutely mentioned extra exact plans over the telephone and through in-person conferences, she mentioned.

About 900 individuals have been arrested in reference to the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, and a whole bunch extra arrests are within the works.

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