Oath Keepers Leader Stewart Rhodes Sentenced to 18 Years for US Capitol Riot

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Rhodes' sentence was the longest handed out so far for any of the 1,000-plus people charged in connection with the US Capitol attack by Trump's supporters in a failed bid to block Congress from certifying Biden's November 2020 election victory.

The leader of the far-right militia Oath Keepers was sentenced to 18 years in prison Thursday for his role in the United States Capitol riot.

Stewart Rhodes was convicted on charges of seditious conspiracy and other crimes in a failed bid to keep then-President Donald Trump in the White House, marking the longest sentence handed down to date in connection with the 6 January 2021 attack.

Meanwhile, the leader of the militia’s Florida chapter Kelly Meggs was jailed for 12 years.

Rhodes, a former US Army paratrooper and Yale-educated lawyer who founded the Oath Keepers in 2009, remained outside the Capitol, but coordinated with Meggs and other members who stormed the building.

Both men were also convicted of obstruction of an official proceeding and tampering with documents or proceedings in connection to the riot.

Prosecutors had asked for 25 years for Rhodes and 21 years for Meggs. Defence lawyers had argued for much lighter sentences of less than three years each.

District Judge Amit Mehta delivered Thursday’s sentence after a defiant Rhodes stood before him, claiming he was a “political prisoner” who, like Trump, was trying to oppose people “who are destroying our country”.

Mehta rejected those claims and expressed concern about Rhodes’ violent rhetoric, including a threat to hang former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“For decades, Mr. Rhodes, it is clear you have wanted the democracy of this country to devolve into violence,” the judge told him. “I dare say, Mr. Rhodes, and I’ve never said this about anyone who I’ve sentenced: You, sir, present an ongoing threat and peril to this country, to the republic, and the very fabric of our democracy."

Rhode’s sentence was the longest handed out so far for the riot, where thousands of Trump’s supporters who objected to the November 2020 presidential election result stormed the US legislature in a failed bid to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s election victory.

Rhodes, who wears an eye patch after accidentally shooting himself in the face with his own gun, began a campaign to reject the results of the election two days after the vote, while ballots were still being counted.

He did not express remorse for his crimes, choosing instead to double down and blame the far left for destroying the country. He also vowed to “expose the criminality of this regime” from his prison cell.

Although attorneys for Rhodes vowed to appeal the conviction, they told reporters outside the court that they were pleasantly surprised that Mehta did not impose a stricter sentence.