Oath Keepers’ Conspiracy: Week one in court

The long awaited trial has begun, raising tensions among the public.

Tingey Injury Law Firm

The long awaited trial has begun, raising tensions among the public.

Aarushi Mandal, Editorial/Opinion Editor

After one week of the “Oath Keepers” trial, many pieces of evidence continue to remain controversial and up for debate by both the court and the public. Defendants Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell are currently on trial while other members of the organization will be tried in November.

Monday, October 3rd was the first official day of the trial as both parties delivered their opening statements. Defendant Stewart Rhodes said his “only regret” was that the organization did not bring firearms into the Capitol during the January 6th breach. Evidence against Rhodes continues to pile up as he was revealed to have stated that the rioters could have “fixed it right then and there” with the presence of weaponry. 

Prosecutors addressed the fact that Rhodes and his accomplices had stashed firearms and other weaponry in Arlington, Virginia prior to the riot. This was due to the District of Columbia’s strict laws on what can and cannot be brought into the district.

After the subject of this hidden weaponry was presented to the court, Rhodes’ attorney brought the jury’s attention to the Insurrection Act. This act will continue to be used as a primary defense on behalf of Rhodes. Under this law, the President can deploy militia in order to assist law enforcement in combating civilian rebellion or any uprising against the government. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Nestler viewed it as a legal cover for the multitude of illegal acts committed by Rhodes and his accomplices. Another point of contention Nestler referenced was Rhodes’ legal past. He explained to the court that as a former graduate of Yale Law School, Rhodes would have thorough knowledge of the severity of his actions. Nestler went on to play a recording for the court in which Rhodes stated the remarks to the Insurrection Act were in fact a “legal cover.”

This, however, was not the only recording prosecutors presented to the jury. The culmination of the first week left the jury with many audio recordings and text messages that did not favor Rhodes. He was found to have said, “You all need to delete any of your comments regarding who did what,” in a group chat with other Oath Keepers. He continued to say “Do not chat about Oath Keeper members allegedly doing anything at Capitol,” and “Go dark on that ” regarding illicit acts committed on January 6th. The defense argued that the government has and continues to cherry pick evidence despite not having solid proof that their client is guilty.

It has been confirmed that Rhodes will testify, but it is unknown if the other defendants will take the stand. With rising tensions, the trial will continue to build and pick up in pace over the next few weeks.