A verdict will be read soon in the historic seditious conspiracy trial of five alleged Oath Keepers ��� a closely watched test of how the Justice Department is prosecuting US Capitol rioters.
The trial began more than seven weeks ago and has featured hundreds of messages, audio recordings, and videos of the defendants’ revolutionary rhetoric in the wake of Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential victory, and of their actions as they traversed the US Capitol grounds during the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.
Defense attorneys argued that that there was no uniformed plan among the group, that the far-right Oath Keepers militia group only attended the Stop the Steal rally to provide security details for speakers, and that the inflammatory recordings of the defendants were nothing more than “locker room talk.”
Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell have all pleaded not guilty.
Here are key things to know about the defendants:
- Stewart Rhodes, 57, founded the Oath Keepers in 2009 and has led the group ever since. Prosecutors say Rhodes stood outside the Capitol on January 6 acting like a “general” as his followers breached the building.
- Kelly Meggs, 53, is a leader of the Oath Keepers’ Florida chapter and, according to the government, led the infamous “stack” formation of Oath Keepers inside the Capitol on January 6.
- Kenneth Harrelson, 41, is also a Florida Oath Keeper and allegedly acted as Meggs’ right-hand man on January 6.
- Jessica Watkins, 40, led her own militia in Ohio before joining the Oath Keepers in the wake of the 2020 election. Prosecutors say Watkins, who is transgender, allegedly entered the Capitol with Harrelson and Meggs and coordinated with Caldwell in the weeks prior.
- Thomas Caldwell, a 68-year-old who testified that he is not a member of the Oath Keepers, allegedly helped organize the armed quick reaction force stationed outside of DC on January 6. Caldwell also hosted Oath Keepers at his Virginia farm, prosecutors say, and communicated with Watkins during the riot.