The founder of the far-right group Oath Keepers and 10 others were indicted for seditious conspiracy in the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol, the Justice Department announced Thursday.
It was the first use of the potent sedition charge in the sprawling investigation of the Capitol attack by supporters of then-president Donald Trump.
Stewart Rhodes, 56, who founded and led the rightwing militia group, and another associate of the organization, Ed Vallejo, were arrested early Thursday.
Nine men with ties to the Oath Keepers who had been previously arrested on lesser charges in the violent attack, which temporarily shut down the US Congress, were also named in the new indictment as part of the alleged seditious conspiracy.
“Following the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election, Rhodes conspired with his co-defendants and others to oppose by force the execution of the laws governing the transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
It said that beginning in late December, 2020, they secretly made plans to travel to Washington with plans to prevent certification of Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the presidential election.
They brought weapons to Washington as part of their plans for “breaching and attempting to take control of the Capitol grounds and building,” it said.
“While certain Oath Keepers members and affiliates breached the Capitol grounds and building, others remained stationed just outside of the city in quick reaction force (QRF) teams… prepared to rapidly transport firearms and other weapons into Washington” to halt the certification, it said.
If found guilty they face up to 20 years in prison.