Four members of the Swearers antigovernment militia were found guilty Monday of sedition conspiracy related to the January 6, 2021, uprising at the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump supporters, following a second major trial in which the Right-wing extremists are plotting to forcibly retain the former president of the United States.
Joseph Hackett of Sarasota, Fla., Roberto Minuta of Prosper, Texas, David Merschel of Punta Gorda, Fla., and Edward Vallejo of Phoenix, Ariz. The mob attack delayed the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory over Republican Trump in the 2020 presidential election after another jury found guilty of the group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, weeks ago.
The convictions are another major victory for the Justice Department, which is also working to secure sedition sentences for the former leader of the hardline, violent, all-male nationalist group the Proud Boys and four associates. The trial of Enrique Tarrio and his deputies began earlier this month in Washington, D.C., and is expected to last several weeks.
They are some of the most serious cases brought so far in the full investigation into the attack on the Capitol, which continues to grow two years after the riots. Nearly 1,000 cases have been filed by the judiciary, and the number of cases is increasing every week.
Defense attorneys sought to downplay the violent message as mere intimidation, saying the Oath Keepers came to Washington to provide security at events leading up to the riots.
They seized on the fact that prosecutors lacked evidence that the Oath Keepers had a clear plan to attack the Capitol before Jan. 6, and told jurors that the extremists who attacked the Capitol acted spontaneously like thousands of other thugs.
Rhodes founded Oath Keepers in 2009, and its members include current and ex-military members, law enforcement and first responders.
Members often turn up in full gear at protests and political events, including demonstrations following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis.