Oath Keepers Leader Wants Leniency for Public Service … of Creating the Oath Keepers
Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers militia, is facing sentencing as the ringleader of a seditious conspiracy on Jan. 6, 2021 to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.
The government is seeking to lock up Rhodes for the next 25 years. But Rhodes is arguing he should get a lenient sentence of “time served” out of respect for his history of “good works,” by which he means — and we swear we’re not making this up — creating the Oath Keepers in the first place.
In a court memo filed Monday, Rhodes and his attorneys argue: “It is imperative that the Court give great deference to Mr. Rhodes for the 12 years of service and dedication of the Oath Keepers,” an organization Rhodes even now insists is “united in devotion to the United States Constitution and in service to its fellow citizens.”
That description of patriotic service could hardly be more at odds with the facts as presented by federal prosecutors, for which a jury found Rhodes and numerous top lieutenants guilty of sedition last November.
In a sentencing memo filed Friday, the government argues that Rhodes should be punished harshly. The militia leader “exploited his vast public influence as the leader of the Oath Keepers” as well as “his talents for manipulation,” prosecutors write, to inspire “twenty other American citizens into using force, intimidation, and violence” as they fought to keep Donald Trump in office. Rhodes’ actions created a “grave risk to our democratic system,” the prosecutors warn, “and must be met with swift and severe punishment.”
This government memo describes the Oath Keepers as a fearsome fighting force that would have welcomed what Rhodes described as “bloody civil war” on Jan. 6. The feds argue that the Oath Keepers were responsible not just for joining the attack on the Capitol, but for inspiring others that day. “To fellow rioters, the Oath Keepers’ coordination, tactical attire, and reputation provided an imprimatur of legitimacy to the attack,” prosecutors write. “A small army was marching up the steps of the United States Capitol.”
Yet in his answer to the government’s claims, Rhodes and his attorneys argue that the militia leader should receive leniency for his public service. Perhaps defensibly, this includes Rhodes’ career in the military; he was discharged honorably after getting injured during paratrooper training.
Delusionally, Rhodes argues that founding the Oath Keepers militia should be seen as similarly honorable: “The facts show that the Oath Keepers were dedicated to civic service during calamitous events, be they natural disasters or dangerous and violent riots.” It adds: “The Oath Keepers aided all Americans.”
The militia founder refers to the Oath Keepers’ inflammatory practice of showing up armed in tense situations, including the aftermath of hurricane Katrina and the uprising in Ferguson, Missouri. In addition, Rhodes touts that the Oath Keepers provided “voluntary security for speakers and the public at large at sometimes-violent venues.” (In reality, the Oath Keepers teamed up with groups like the Proud Boys to intimidate protesters of anti-democracy events like “Stop the Steal” rallies.)
Rhodes’ attorneys argue that the militia’s actions not only qualify as public service but in fact go “‘above and beyond’ what is customarily considered ‘community good works’” by judges in offering lenient prison sentences.
In a document full of gaslighting and absurdity, Rhodes includes a line about which all parties — both fans and foes of the violent militia — can certainly agree: “The character of the Oath Keepers reflects the character of the man who created it.”
Rhodes is expected to be sentenced on May 25.
Read the convicted militia leader’s sentencing memo below: