DOJ seeks 25 years in prison for Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes should spend 25 years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the Justice Department (DOJ) argued, after a jury last November found him guilty of seditious conspiracy.

In a filling late Friday, the DOJ made sentencing suggestions for Rhodes and eight of his coconspirators, including recommending 21 years in prison for Kelly Meggs, the group’s Florida chapter leader also convicted of seditious conspiracy.

The DOJ recommended other co-conspirators receive anywhere from 10-18 years in prison, arguing the Oath Keepers’s recruitment of former military members should be a factor in their sentencing.

“Using their positions of prominence within, and in affiliation with, the Oath Keepers organization, these defendants played a central and damning role in opposing by force the government of the United States, breaking the solemn oath many of them swore as members of the United States Armed Forces,” the DOJ wrote in the sentencing memo.

Seditious conspiracy carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, but many members of the group were convicted on multiple other felony charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding.

Rhodes’s conviction is particularly significant because he never entered the Capitol on Jan. 6. Instead, he remained outside and connected to members of the group through a walkie-talkie app as the members used a military “stack formation” to enter the Capitol.

But because Rhodes was the leader of the treasonous plot, the DOJ argued, the Yale Law School alumnus deserves the most severe punishment of the group.

“He exploited his vast public influence as the leader of the Oath Keepers and used his talents for manipulation to goad more than twenty other American citizens into using force, intimidation, and violence to seek to impose their preferred result on a U.S. presidential election,” they wrote.

“This conduct created a grave risk to our democratic system of government and must be met with swift and severe punishment.”

Rhodes’s sentencing hearing is set for May 25, while other members of the group are set to appear before a judge in late May and early June.

Rhodes appears likely to serve the longest jail term of any defendant from the DOJ’s sweeping Jan. 6 prosecutions.

According to NBC News, the longest sentence to stem from the attack thus far is 14 years, given Friday to Peter Schwartz, a rioter with 38 prior convictions.

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