Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was ordered detained pending trial on charges of seditious conspiracy for allegedly planning to halt the certification of President Joe Biden's election victory on Jan. 6 of last year through a violent assault on the Capitol.
Rhodes, 56, of Granbury Texas, was charged with 10 other members of the paramilitary group in the alleged attempt to overthrow the government.
"The weight of the evidence against Defendant is strong and reveals Defendant’s participation in a coordinated attack on government officials within the United States Capitol and that Defendant put in place and controlled armed groups to support and/or further escalate the planned attack," Texas U.S. Magistrate Kimberly Priest Johnson wrote Wednesday.
"Under Defendant’s leadership, members of the Oath Keepers stormed the Capitol grounds and unlawfully entered the Capitol Building wearing tactical gear, such as hard knuckles and helmets, and carrying non-lethal weapons," the judge wrote.
"At least one member of the Oath Keepers assaulted a federal law enforcement officer," the judge wrote. "Although Defendant did not enter the Capitol Building, Defendant’s communications with coconspirators leading up to, during, and after the Raid (to plan, coordinate, and conduct the Raid), along with Defendant’s presence on the Capitol grounds, displayed leadership during the Raid and showed that Defendant encouraged and directed the actions of his co-conspirators."
Prosecutors had argued that continuing detention was necessary because the former Army paratrooper represented a continuing danger to the public and a flight risk.
The sedition charges represent the most serious criminal offenses brought against the more than 700 people swept up in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack.
One of Rhodes' alleged co-conspirators, Edward Vallejo, 63, of Phoenix, also was ordered held without bond in a hearing last week in Arizona.
"Rhodes and certain co-conspirators, to include selected regional leaders, planned to stop the lawful transfer of presidential power by Jan. 20, 2021, which included multiple ways to deploy force,” the indictment read. “They coordinated travel across the country to enter Washington, D.C., and equipped themselves with a variety of weapons, donned combat and tactical gear, and were prepared to answer Rhodes’s call to take up arms at Rhodes’s direction.”
The federal seditious conspiracy statute can be used to charge two or more people who conspire to "overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States” or “by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States.”
Stewart and the members of the Oath Keepers, a far right-wing extremist group whose ranks include members of the military and law enforcement, are accused of planning weeks before the Jan. 6 attack, using encrypted communication networks to coordinate travel and other preparations.
In November, Rhodes was subpoenaed to testify and provide documents to the special House committee investigating the Capitol attacks. At the time, lawmakers referred to the Oath Keeper leader's 2020 Election Day statements, urging followers to "stock up on ammo" and prepare for a "full-on war in the streets," if Trump failed to secure a second term.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Oath Keepers founder ordered detained pending sedition trial