Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, founder of the extremist Oath Keepers, and fellow militia member Kelly Meggs have been convicted of seditious conspiracy for their efforts to halt certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory so Donald Trump would remain president.
And it’s likely going to cost him … bigly.
(Siri, play “Hit the [Rhodes] Jack” by Ray Charles.)
Tuesday’s verdict came as the result of a trial that Justice Department officials viewed as a proving ground for conspiracy charges stemming from the deadly, pro-Trump riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The convictions show prosecutors successfully convinced a jury that Rhodes and Meggs plotted to violently oppose Biden’s certification on and before Jan. 6, and they also showed that Rhodes kept trying even after the attempted coup failed that day.
NBC News explained the significance of the case:
The seditious conspiracy case is the most serious to grow out of the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation into the U.S. Capitol attack. The two seditious conspiracy verdicts were wins for the department, which has brought forward the relatively rare charges against a number of Oath Keepers, as well as members of the far-right Proud Boys.
The convictions are sure to excite Karl Racine, the District of Columbia’s outgoing attorney general. And his successor, Brian Schwalb, is likely pretty happy with the verdicts, too.
That’s because Racine was the first attorney general in the country to file a civil case seeking damages from extremist groups that participated in the Jan. 6 riot — and that case specifically named Rhodes and Meggs as defendants. To be fair, it also names Brian Ulrich and Joshua James, two fellow Oath Keepers who’ve pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy.
And although criminal convictions aren’t necessarily used as evidence in civil cases, they can be if the criminal conviction is relevant to the issues at the heart of the civil suit. And here, we’re talking about criminal convictions that are directly linked to the issue at the heart of D.C.’s civil case.
Simply put, Tuesday’s ruling only strengthened the civil suit against Rhodes and Co. And given the devastating impact of Jan. 6, the large amounts awarded in other civil suits against violent extremists, and the public attention on Rhodes’ trial, it’s fair for anyone to assume D.C. will look to exact a costly sum from him and others responsible for last year’s attack.
Literal payback time may be on the horizon.
(And, of course, I have a song for that, too.)