Analysis-U.S. Built ‘Textbook’ Case of Sedition Charges for Capitol Attack -Legal Experts | Top News

(Reuters) – U.S. attorneys general appears to have proceeded cautiously in bringing sedition charges against 11 people linked to the far-right militia involved in the deadly 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and they are likely to face convictions, legal experts said.

An indictment https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/1462481/download was released Thursday against Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes https://www.reuters.com/world/us/ FBI Fed – Arrests – Far Right – Militia – Group – Conservatives – Leader – Jan-6 – Investigation – NET – 2022-01-13, and 10 alleged members of the group, accused of plotting to oppose the transfer of power between then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, and his successor, Democrat Joe Biden.

An incendiary plot is defined as an attempt to “overthrow, suppress, or destroy by force” the US government and the US Department of Justice was wary of bringing such a charge in part because of the loss of a case 12 years ago, a former government attorney said.

Alan Rosenstein, a former national security attorney for the Department of Justice and an instructor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said the indictment over the January 6 attack was “exhaustive and rigorous.”

“I don’t think there’s much the defendants can say here,” Rosenstein said. “This is the biblical definition of seditious conspiracy. If this isn’t seditious conspiracy, then what is?”

The sedition charges are the first against those involved in the storming of the building by Trump supporters after he delivered a fiery speech that repeated his false claims that his defeat in the November 2020 election was the result of widespread fraud. US prosecutors have brought criminal charges against at least 725 people https://amers2.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/web/Apps/NewsServices/mediaProxy?apiKey=6d416f26-7b24-4f31-beb6-1b5aa0f3fafb&url=https%3A%2F% 2Fgraphics.reuters.com%2FJAN-CHARGES%2FJAN6-CHARGES%2Fxmpjobknrvr%2FJAN6-CHARGES.jpg Related to the riots.

The conspiracy and sedition charges were filed a year and a week after the assault amid concerns from some Democrats and advocates that the Justice Department was too abstract in bringing serious criminal charges against people who broke into the building or planned violence.

Department Watchmen is a loosely organized group of activists who believe the federal government is encroaching on their rights, focused on current and former police recruitment, emergency services, and military personnel.

The indictment said members of the group advanced up the stairs at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a military-style “mack” formation and dressed in tactical gear. Nine of the 11 people named in the indictment were already facing charges.

“We will not go through this without civil war. It is too late for that. Prepare your mind, body and soul,” Rhodes said in a letter from Signal on November 5, 2020, according to prosecutors https://www.reuters.com. /world/us/a-bloody-desperate-fight-us-two-year-release-right-keepers-connections-2022-01-13.

They said that in December 2020, Rhodes wrote of Biden’s ratification of the January 6 election that “there is no standard political or legal way out of this.”

“It’s important to keep the seditious plot in serious cases, and I personally think that’s one,” said Amy Cooter, an expert on American militia movements and lecturer at Vanderbilt University.

Rosenstein said a failed 2010 trial against a Christian nationalist militia called the Hotari gave federal prosecutors pause.

Members of the Hotari are accused of plotting to murder a Michigan police officer and then ambushing the officer’s colleagues who were to gather for the funeral. But charges of sedition and conspiracy were dropped after a judge ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove that militia members were doing anything more than speaking out about their hatred of power.

Legal experts said the landmark finding highlighted a common issue in seditious conspiracy cases: that the charges could infringe on the broad protections of free speech enshrined in the US Constitution.

In September 2020, amid civil unrest, then-US Attorney General William Barr urged federal prosecutors to consider bringing charges of inflammatory conspiracy against people who participated in violent anti-police protests. The move sparked an immediate setback from the civil liberties group, which said inflammatory conspiracy law should be limited to the most serious threats to American democracy.

Lawyers and researchers on extremism said the Justice Department appears to have carefully examined the indictment of the oath guards, and may have used cooperating witnesses to build a clearer case to try to overthrow the government.

A police officer who killed the rioters died on Jan. 6, the day after the attack, and four who were guarding the Capitol later died by suicide. Four rioters were also killed, including a woman who was shot by a policeman while trying to climb through a smashed window. About 140 police officers were wounded during the hours-long attack.

“The government has a strong case against ward guards,” said Joshua Braver, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. Unlike the Hotari, the oath-keepers carried out their “true agreement to obstruct the peaceful transfer of power.”

(Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCall)

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