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Oath Keepers Charged with Seditious Conspiracy to Use Dangerous Defense

The single most significant January 6th case to date is now being tried in front of a Washington DC jury. The case is against the leaders of the Oath Keepers, who are charged with seditious conspiracy, attempting to overthrow the government as part of a coordinated scheme. Now, the AP is reporting that the defendants’ plan is to put Trump front and center in a bizarre and highly dangerous (to Trump and Oath Keepers) defense.

From the AP:

The defense team in the Capitol riot trial of the Oath Keepers leader is relying on an unusual strategy with Donald Trump at the center. Lawyers for Stewart Rhodes, founder of the extremist group, are poised to argue that jurors cannot find him guilty of seditious conspiracy because all the actions he took before the siege on Jan. 6, 2021, were in preparation for orders he anticipated from the then-president — orders that never came.

Right. Except that’s not a defense. Because if the “orders never came,” what were they doing trying to overthrow the government?

Rhodes intends to take the stand to argue he believed Trump was going to invoke the Insurrection Act to call up a militia to support him, his lawyers have said. Trump didn’t do that, but Rhodes’ team says that what prosecutors allege was an illegal conspiracy was “actually lobbying and preparation for the President to utilize” the law. It’s a novel legal argument in a trial that’s one of the most serious cases coming out of the Capitol attack.

Right. Except that’s still not a defense, “novel,” as it may be. “Actually lobbying and preparation for the President to utilize the law” doesn’t allow you a freebie at trying to overthrow the government.

So one wonders. Rhodes is going to take the stand. Rhodes is going to talk about “anticipated orders.” Is Rhodes going to upend the trial and the country by pointing the finger right at Trump and saying, “He communicated to us…” because it sure sounds like that is the defense they really want to use and are simply dancing around it. They would never, ever telegraph that defense ahead of time, Trump would rage and rage, and the Oath Keepers themselves could be targeted. But with ten to twenty years riding on how the trial comes out, perhaps Rhodes is ready to blow the lid on everything. Probably not. But, wow, the stars are sure aligned for him to do so.

And it’s still not a defense, even if Trump did order them to do it. But it could easily be a factor in sentencing.

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