Nov 30, 2022
Guilty verdicts in Oath Keepers seditious conspiracy capitol riot trial Transcript
Jurors deliberated for three days before finding Stewart Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, the militia’s Florida state leaders, guilty of the most serious charge against them. Read the transcript here.
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Speaker 1 (00:00):
An update tonight on Breaking News on one of the biggest trials in the Capitol Riot investigations. Again, just moments ago, a historic verdict in the Oath Keepers trial. Oath Keepers leader, Stewart Rhodes, has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy.
Speaker 2 (00:12):
This is the first time in all these trials that a conviction like this has actually come down. Digital investigative reporter, Jordan Fischer, has been following this trial every day. He joins us now live from the DC courthouse.
Jordan, we know Rhodes and Kelly Meggs were found guilty of that most significant charge, which is seditious conspiracy. We talked about this quite a bit with you, but the co-defendants who were acquitted are not walking away free.
Jordan Fischer (00:36):
That’s right, Leslie. All five defendants in this case were convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding, which is in and of itself a very serious felony. Now, the difference between that and seditious conspiracy is that that latter charge, the one Rhodes and Meggs were convicted of, requires you to forcibly conspire to oppose a law of the United States, and in this case, that’s the laws governing the transfer of presidential power. However, even though they were not convicted of seditious conspiracy, all five defendants, the other three who weren’t are facing the same base offense level, which means they could all be facing potentially very significant sentences next year when they get before the judge again.
Speaker 1 (01:15):
Jordan, can you talk to us about the biggest hurdle in this case for those federal prosecutors? This appeared to be an uphill battle for them, when you’re talking about seditious conspiracy, such a charge.
Jordan Fischer (01:25):
The number one thing we heard the defense attorneys hammer on over and over again is that there was no explicit plan, there was no written plan to enter the Capitol, there was no plan in any of the text messages or that any of the witnesses testified to to forcibly try to stop Joe Biden from becoming the president of the United States. And so the way that the DOJ had to make its case here was by showing all of the words and all of the calls to action that Stewart Rhodes had made and the planning that he ended… the sort of ephemeral, peripheral planning that he had been involved in regarding the QRF, that’s the Quick Reaction Force you’ve heard so much about, with these weapons that were staged outside of DC and the call to action that he sent on January 6th, calling the rioters patriots, saying the patriots were taking things into their own hands. And that might be why ultimately these other three defendants weren’t convicted, because the jury felt that the DOJ just hadn’t shown enough evidence of what was in their heads that day.
Speaker 2 (02:22):
They showed it for two, apparently. The jury deliberated for three days. You were there as the jury read this verdict. Jordan, what was your impression?
Jordan Fischer (02:32):
Yeah, my takeaway, and I think all of our takeaway was that the jury felt that after 10 weeks that they had done their civic duty, that they had done what was required of them, and now it was time to go home. They declined to talk to us. They declined to talk to the defense attorneys who obviously were very interested in talking to them, not the least of which because the next group goes on trial next week. But I think they were ready to resume their lives.
Speaker 1 (02:57):
Yeah, you talked about those upcoming cases. What will this mean for those?
Jordan Fischer (03:02):
Next week, the second group of Oath Keepers goes before the same judge, beginning with much of the same evidence and many of the same charges. Next month, which is just a few days away, of course, a group of Proud Boys, including the former national chairman, Enrique Tarrio, will be getting their own seditious conspiracy trial. That’ll be different evidence and different allegations, but again, the government is going to have to prove one more time that they forcibly conspired to oppose the transfer of presidential power. So all over again, a lengthy trial, lengthy evidence, dozens of witnesses is what we’re expecting.
Speaker 2 (03:35):
Will they be able to do it again? We will see. Jordan Fischer, thank you for your reporting for all these weeks, consistently. We’ll see you later, for sure.