WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors rested their case in opposition to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and 4 different members of the far-right group on Wednesday with out calling three cooperating defendants who pleaded responsible to seditious conspiracy.
Opening arguments within the trial started Oct. 3, and over 5 weeks of testimony, jurors heard from two Oath Keepers — Jason Dolan and Graydon Younger — who pleaded responsible in reference to the Jan. 6 assault. Dolan testified that he hoped to scare members of Congress and that he was a part of a gaggle that “could be prepared to combat” to maintain former President Donald Trump in workplace. Younger testified that he was “appearing like a traitor“ on Jan. 6 and thought he was a part of an occasion just like the 1789 storming of the Bastille within the French Revolution.
However the authorities didn’t name for 3 members of the group who pleaded responsible to seditious conspiracy — Joshua James, Brian Ulrich and William Todd Wilson — earlier than resting their case.
The protection will doubtless start presenting their case, which is anticipated to incorporate testimony from Rhodes, on Thursday earlier than all sides makes their closing arguments and the case goes to the jury.
Rhodes, together with Kelly Meggs, Kenneth Harrelson, Jessica Watkins and Thomas Caldwell, are on trial in reference to an alleged felony conspiracy that the federal government says concerned Oath Keepers invading the U.S. Capitol in navy stack formations and stockpiling weapons for a “fast response power” situated at a Virginia resort simply exterior of D.C. One other Oath Keeper who didn’t plead responsible to any crime, Terry Cummings, testified that the “QRF” had extra weapons than he’d seen in a single place since he was within the navy.
The federal government’s case featured quite a lot of direct proof of debate about plans to make use of power to oppose the transition of energy, however not quite a lot of express proof that the Oath Keepers deliberate forward of time to storm the U.S. Capitol. Younger testified that there was an “implicit” settlement to storm the usCapitol when the chance introduced itself.
Prosecutors might have determined that presenting any of the three defendants who pleaded responsible to seditious conspiracy could be an excessive amount of of a danger on cross examination. Glenn Kirschner, a NBC Information authorized analyst who has sat via a lot of the trial, mentioned cooperating defendants might be “notoriously troublesome to shine up” and make palatable to jurors. Jurors might be troubled by the actions of cooperating witnesses and have bother crediting their testimony.
“You by no means need to be perceived as being aligned with or excusing or unduly forgiving horrific crimes, and that is a danger you run if you put a cooperating witness on the stand,” Kirschner mentioned. Prosecutors can also’t explicitly argue that as a result of a witness pleaded responsible to seditious conspiracy that the defendants are responsible of the identical cost, which limits the worth of their testimony.
“I’ve to imagine that they do not really feel the necessity to put some actually compromised human beings on the stand to attempt to convict these defendants,” Kirschner mentioned. “They clearly imagine they’ve introduced sufficient proof to persuade the jurors with out the testimony of those cooperating witnesses.”
Rhodes, in proof launched by prosecutors on Wednesday, wrote a message to Trump on Jan. 10, 2021, asking the then-president to invoke the Rebellion Act and use the Oath Keepers to remain in energy. (Although Rhodes thought the message could be delivered to Trump, it by no means was). Rhodes additionally, in a recording that very same day, mentioned they “ought to have introduced rifles” on Jan. 6 and that he’d “grasp f—in’ Pelosi from the lamppost.”
Legal professionals for the defendants will now current their case. Protection attorneys have advised that members of the Oath Keepers assisted legislation enforcement on Jan. 6, however Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn testified that wasn’t the case for the Oath Keepers he encountered exterior of Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s workplace.
Daniel Barnes contributed.