This is the longest sentence handed down to date and the first for conspiracy charges. “You are a constant threat and danger to this country, the republic and the very fabric of our democracy,” said Judge Amit Mehta. “You are intelligent, persuasive and charismatic. Honestly, that’s what makes you dangerous.
Rhodes, 58, is the first of 14 defendants, including nine Oath Keepers, who have been convicted of conspiracy or pleaded guilty in the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack. Enrique Tarrio, who was national chairman of the far-right Proud Boys organization (Eng. Proud Boys), was convicted of that charge earlier this month.
Prosecutors say Rhodes masterminded a weeks-long plot to derail Donald Trump’s handover to Joe Biden by urging dozens of allies across the country to converge on January 6 in Washington. Rhodes and his allies spent weeks pressuring Trump to forcibly prevent Congress from approving the election — and prepared for violence if Trump refused. Rhodes also encouraged the Oath Keepers to stockpile weapons on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., which could be deployed in the city if necessary.
Eventually, dozens of Oath Keepers marched with the pro-Trump crowd to the Capitol as Rhodes cheered them on.
Mehta agreed with the prosecutor’s characterization of Rhodes’ role as the leader of the January 6 attack and agreed to classify his crimes as an act of terrorism, greatly increasing his final sentence.-
Rhodes himself presented himself at trial as a martyr in America’s war for survival. “I’m a political prisoner,” Rhodes said, comparing his situation to Trump’s. — I feel as if I am the hero of Kafka’s The Trial. I feel that the blame was predetermined from day one… My goal will be to be the American Solzhenitsyn to expose the crimes of this regime,” said Rhodes, citing the Soviet dissident and author of The Gulag Archipelago.
Thursday’s sentencing was a pivotal moment in the U.S. Department of Justice’s efforts to punish those who planned and led the brutal attack on the Capitol, fueling the crowd of supporters Trump himself had amassed in Washington. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy described Rhodes’s verdict as the most significant step in bringing the leaders of the January 6 attack to justice.
During an eight-week trial last fall, prosecutors revealed thousands of messages sent between Rhodes and other Oath Keepers leaders before January 6, painting a picture of a violent group willing to do anything to prevent Trump from leaving office. Rhodes has repeatedly tried to contact Trump and urge him to appoint the Oath Keepers as an official government militia. Trump ultimately refused to invoke the Civil War-era sedition law for this purpose.