Sat. Jan 22nd, 2022

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers right-wing extremist group, has been charged with inciting conspiracy over his role in the January 6 attack on the U.S. capital, which marks a major escalation in the federal investigation into the riots led by Donald Trump’s supporters.

The charges are part of a indictment issued Thursday by the Department of Justice in which 11 defendants are charged with provocative conspiracy and other crimes related to the siege of the Capitol that disrupts the certification of Joe Biden’s election and kills five people. left it.

The charges are the first to be filed against Rhodes, who was arrested Thursday in Little Elm, Texas, in connection with Jan. 6. Another accused, Edward Vallejo, was also charged and arrested for the first time in connection with the riots. The remaining nine co-accused have already faced separate charges related to the attack.

The Department of Justice described the Oathholders as a “large but loosely organized collection of individuals, some of whom are associated with militias”.

The indictment alleges that in the aftermath of the November 2020 election, Rhodes conspired with the other defendants to “coordinate and enforce” the implementation of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by force ” travel for the certification of the election results and planning to bring, among other things, weapons to support their efforts.

The unlocking of the charge is a major step in the DoJ’s investigation into the January 6 attack, just a week after the first commemoration of the riots.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland last week vowed to hold “at any level” offenders accountable on Jan. 6, and defended his department’s work to prosecute those involved. Progressives have accused the DoJ of not acting aggressively enough to pursue Trump and his supporters.

Garland said more than 725 defendants have already been charged with criminal charges related to the attack, and indicated that larger charges may yet have to come.

“In complex cases, initial charges are often less serious than later charged offenses,” Garland said, adding, “The actions we have taken so far will not be our last.”

The DOJ inquiry is being conducted separately from a congressional inquiry led by a panel of members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

The January 6 committee, led by Democrats and numbering only two Republicans in its ranks, sought testimony from dozens of former Trump administration officials in its search for information about the attack and the last days of its presidency.

Steve Bannon, a close Trump ally, was charged in November by a federal grand jury for contempt of Congress after failing to comply with a subpoena issued by the committee. The former president has sued the committee and the U.S. National Archives in an effort to block the release of documents related to his last weeks in office.

In its latest intervention, the committee said Tuesday it would request information from Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives. McCarthy has indicated he will not voluntarily participate in the investigation, which has paved the way for a possible subpoena in the coming weeks.

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