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Oath Keepers leader, 10 others charged with ‘seditious conspiracy’ in Jan. 6 Capitol attack

WASHINGTON — Elmer Stewart Rhodes, founder of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers, has been indicted and arrested over his organization’s alleged involvement in planning the Jan. 6 attack.

Rhodes, 56, is being charged for the first time in connection to events leading up to and on Jan. 6, according to a statement Thursday from the Justice Department. An additional 10 people, including nine others who already face separate charges in connection to the riot, were also indicted.

Rhodes and the 10 other individuals were charged with “seditious conspiracy and other charges for crimes” related to the breach of the Capitol on Jan. 6, said the DOJ.

The defendants conspired in a variety of ways, including organizing into teams that were “prepared and willing to use force and to transport firearms and ammunition into Washington, D.C.,” the DOJ said, citing the indictment.

More than 700 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the Capitol riot. As of late December, at least 165 had pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor offenses punishable by a maximum of six months’ imprisonment.

Rhodes’ lawyer, Jonathon Moseley, told NBC News that he was on the phone with Rhodes when the FBI came to his house to arrest him Thursday. Moseley said they were talking about a scheduled appearance before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot when the FBI called Rhodes.

“He patched me in on the call and I identified myself as his lawyer,” Moseley said in an email. “The FBI Special Agent said they were outside and he needed to come out with his hands up and be arrested.”

Rhodes had put out a call on the group’s website in the days before the Jan. 6 attack for “all patriots who can be in DC” to travel to Washington for a “security mission” to “stand tall in support of President Trump’s fight.”

In November, the House committee subpoenaed the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, another extremist group, alleging they were involved in planning the attack. The panel issued subpoenas seeking information and testimony from Rhodes, and Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, who was chairman of the Proud Boys at the time of the riot.

Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4, 2021, in Washington on a warrant stemming from an incident at a Proud Boys rally on Dec. 12. At the time of his arrest, officers said they found two unloaded magazines emblazoned with the Proud Boys logo in his bag, each with a capacity to hold 30 rounds for AR-15 or M4-style weapons. In August, Tarrio was sentenced to more than five months in jail.

Daniel Barnes contributed.

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