The Department of Justice is seeking more severe penalties for individuals convicted of some of the most serious crimes from the attack on the Capitol.
While many defendants involved in the January 6th, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol have been permitted to plead down their offenses — and some have walked away with relatively minor convictions — a handful of the most serious offenses pertained to Oath Keepers actually planning an attack, even preparing a cache of weapons off-site for quick retrieval.
The Department of Justice feels that the eight individuals convicted of these seditious conspiracy offenses did not receive sentences on par with the harm done.
The DOJ is appealing the sentences of Oath Keepers Stewart Rhodes, Kelly Meggs, Roberto Minuta, Joseph Hackett, Ed Vallejo, David Moerschel, Jessica Watkins, and Kenneth Harrelson.
In each case, the DOJ requested sentences significantly longer than were ultimately handed down.
Rhodes received a sentence of 18 years rather than the recommended 25; Meggs’s 12-year sentence is barely half the 21 years prosecutors requested; and Watkins’ 8.5-year term is less than half the DOJ’s suggested 21 years.
The other five were sentenced to between 3 and 4.5 years, while prosecutors had requested between 10 and 17 for each. Politico reports:
“In a series of filings, prosecutors also signaled they were appealing the sentences — all delivered by [U.S. District Court Judge Amit] Mehta, an appointee of President Barack Obama — of several other defendants convicted for their own role in Rhodes’ alleged conspiracy.”
Appeal documents are not yet publicly available, but all indications are that the U.S. government does not find these sentence lengths to be sufficient in regard to the offenses committed.
After several of these individuals were found guilty — but prior to sentencing — Attorney General Merrick Garland responded. According to the DOJ, he said:
“Today the jury returned a verdict convicting all defendants of criminal conduct, including two Oath Keepers leaders for seditious conspiracy against the United States…The Justice Department is committed to holding accountable those criminally responsible for the assault on our democracy on January 6, 2021.”
Rhodes, for one, has demonstrated his lack of remorse through public statements of his own, including appearing on right-wing media by phone from prison, where he continues to express that he was in the right and that the DOJ is using his and other convictions to unfairly smear the former insurrectionist-in-chief.
You can see an example of this below.
Calling from prison before his sentencing for seditious conspiracy, Oathkeepers leader Stewart Rhodes says Capitol Police intentionally instigated the violence on J6, and says DOJ is trying to connect Oathkeepers and Proud Boys to Trump through Rudy Giuliani. pic.twitter.com/10YCHKz0T0
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) May 23, 2023
Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.