WASHINGTON D.C. — Founder of the Oath Keepers and former Montana lawyer Elmer Stewart Rhodes has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy for actions taken at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Rhodes and four other co-defendants were accused of conspiring to stop the peaceful transfer of power, including using violence, after former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to President Joe Biden. According to a report from NBC News, Rhodes and co-defendant Kelly Meggs were convicted on the seditious conspiracy charge while the other three defendants - Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell - were acquitted on that charge. All five defendants were convicted by the jury of obstructing an official proceeding and aiding and abetting.
The prosecution during the trial alleged Rhodes and his co-defendants planned to use force to prevent Congress from formally certifying Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory.
While Rhodes and Caldwell never entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, Meggs, Harrelson and Watkins entered the building in tactical gear. The defendants were also accused of creating a "quick reaction force" at a nearby hotel that was equipped with firearms and could be quickly called upon. Rhodes denied accusations he and his organization attempted to storm the Capitol that day and was unaware that Oath Keepers had entered the building. The prosecution presented evidence at trial including inflammatory messages, videos and audio recordings where Rhodes expressed regret for not bringing riffles and wish harm upon members of Congress.
Rhodes formed the Oath Keepers in 2009 after the election of President Obama. The Oathkeepers operated as a militia group and actively recruited military, law enforcement and veterans.
In 2010, Rhodes would relocate his law firm to Montana where he was licensed to practice law. Court filings had listed Montana addresses for Rhodes in Big Arm, Kalispell and Trego over the years. On Dec. 8, 2015, the Montana Supreme Court officially disbarred Rhodes from practicing law for conduct violating the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct.
In January, Rhodes was arrested in Texas for his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
The U.S. Department of Justice has charged over 900 individuals contacted to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. In addition to Rhodes, six other individuals with Montana ties have also been charged or pleaded guilty.
Editor's note: This is a developing story that will be updated.