Government makes final argument that 5 oath keepers conspired to sedition : NPR

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Government makes final argument that 5 oath keepers conspired to sedition : NPR
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Trump supporters storm the US Capitol after the then-president’s rally on January 6, 2021.

Samuel Corum/Getty Images


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Government Makes Final Argument That 5 Oath Keepers Conspired To Sedition : Npr

Trump supporters storm the US Capitol after the then-president’s rally on January 6, 2021.

Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Prosecutors delivered their closing arguments Friday in the Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy trial against Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes and four others, telling jurors a “mountain of evidence” shows the defendants conspired to use force to prevent the transfer of presidential power to Joe Biden.

For about two hours, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy presented the jury with some of the evidence – text messages, videos and testimony – presented over the past seven weeks and said it demonstrated a plot to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power to the first time. in American history.

“Our democracy is fragile. It cannot exist without respect for the rule of law,” Rakoczy said. “And it won’t survive if people unhappy with the outcome of an election can use force and violence to change the outcome. That’s what these defendants did. They conspired to – and did – stop the transfer of power on January 6.”

“It’s unacceptable,” she said. “It’s criminal.”

Rhodes and co-defendants Kelly Meggs, Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Thomas Caldwell are charged with seditious conspiracy, obstruction of official process and other crimes in connection with the events of January 6, 2021.

Their trial is the largest to date in the investigation into the deadly attack on the US Capitol.

Rakoczy opened his closing argument with Rhodes’ own words, quoting a message he sent on Nov. 5, 2021: “We won’t get through this without a civil war. Prepare your mind, your body and your spirit.”

“Two days after the presidential election,” Rakoczy told jurors, “Mr. Rhodes called for war with all its horrors and violence to oppose the results of a presidential election. Think about it.”

She said Americans had been divided and angry about election results before in US history, but nonetheless, for two centuries power had been transferred peacefully because people ultimately respected the state. by right.

But, she says, “not these defendants.”

“A mountain of evidence has shown that these five defendants have come together and agreed to do whatever was necessary, up to and including the use of force, to stop the lawful transfer of power to Joe Biden,” she said.

The defendants amassed an “arsenal of lethal weapons” which they brought to the Washington, D.C., area for a quick reaction force to rush firearms downtown if needed on Jan. 6, it said. she told the jury.

Some of the defendants have booked rooms at the same hotel in Virginia, where they have stored their weapons for the quick reaction force – a coordination, she said, that “helps show there was an agreement , a conspiracy”.

Rhodes, she said, was “the orchestrator of this plot and the architect” of the plan to block certification, while the other defendants played various other leadership roles.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors repeatedly used the defendants’ own words against them.

Rakoczy reminded the jury of the inflammatory messages Rhodes sent in the weeks and days leading up to Jan. 6, and on the day itself, and urged the jury not to become “numbed” by such rhetoric.

“Let’s be clear: the words of the defendants in this case were not the mere ramblings and delusions of old men at a hairdresser’s,” she said. “They repeatedly called for the violent overthrow of the US government. And they followed with action.”

RHODES LAWYER: NO PLAN

In closing, Rhodes’ attorney James Lee Bright acknowledged that Rhodes and his co-defendants engaged in a great deal of “horrifically heated rhetoric and bombast”.

“I disagree with a lot of things, but it’s not a sign of a meeting of minds,” Bright said. “Venting is not a meeting of minds. Expressing hate and anger is not a meeting of minds in this country.”

“Is it inappropriate? Yeah. A lot. Is it something we wish we didn’t do. Absolutely,” he added. “But all talking about the same subject is not a meeting of minds.”

Bright told jurors he insisted during the trial by asking witnesses three questions: Did he plan to storm the Capitol? Was there a plan to break through the rotunda? Was there any plan to stop or delay certification of the election?

“We had 50 witnesses in this case. Not a single person testified that there was a plan. Not one,” he said.

He pushed back against the government’s portrayal of the quick reaction force as an offensive force designed to attack the Capitol and argued that oath keepers were only in Washington that day to provide security for speakers and attendees. Trump supporters.

In the end, Bright urged the jury to carefully consider all the evidence in the case, telling them “lives are at stake.”

“When you take the time to look at this through an alternative lens and not just what the government is giving you, there is a similarity of stories and they diverge,” he said. “They differ on the concept of whether there was a meeting of minds.”

Without a meeting of the minds and a plot, he asked, what did Rhodes really do?

“He stayed outside. He didn’t come in. He didn’t destroy anything in the Capitol. He didn’t have a megaphone saying, ‘Go, go, go.’ He didn’t push anyone,” Bright said. “He filmed. He took pictures.”

He concluded by urging the jury to find Rhodes not guilty on all counts.

Lawyers for the remaining defendants have yet to present their own closing arguments.

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