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First court appearances for alleged seditionists unfurl

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Just a day after their arrests, two Oath Keepers who prosecutors say coordinated a seditious conspiracy on Jan. 6 aimed at stopping the lawful transfer of power made their first appearances in court on Friday.

Elmer Stewart Rhodes, the former leader of the extremist Oath Keepers group, appeared in Plano, Texas, to face a series of charges levied against him including seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding, aiding and abetting, conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties, and tampering with documents.

Now that Rhodes is in custody, his attorney announced this morning that she would take over as leader of the Oath Keepers until his release.

No cameras or recording equipment were permitted in the Plano courtroom Friday, but according to a reporter in Texas who attended the hearing, government prosecutors sought to detain Rhodes pending trial. His detention hearing will be held on Jan. 20 and without bail or bond issued on Friday, Rhodes is in jail is where he will remain until his next court date.

As for Rhodes’ Oath Keeper cohort Edward Vallejo, he appeared remotely for his initial showing before a judge in Arizona. Vallejo is facing many of the same charges as Rhodes, including seditious conspiracy.

Prosecutors say the 63-year-old Phoenix, Arizona, resident worked very closely with Rhodes in the run-up to the attack and that he was instrumental in supporting the extremist group as it moved through Washington before and on Jan. 6.

Their plan to stop the certification of election results unfurled for several weeks and Vallejo’s role was critical, according to the indictment, because he helped secure hotel rooms where firearms, ammunition, and other weapons to support the assault could be stowed.

Rhodes Et Al Indictment Jan 6. by Daily Kos on Scribd:

Scribd Content

According to prosecutors, Vallejo specifically coordinated the transport of weapons from Jan. 1 to Jan. 5, finally positioning himself at the Comfort Inn Ballston in Arlington, Virginia, just 15 minutes from the U.S. Capitol.

He allegedly surveilled the situation on the ground in Washington from the hotel on Jan. 6 and was on standby, waiting for “a call to bring the weapons” as needed. Notably, on the morning of the attack, he recorded a podcast suggesting “armed conflict” or “guerilla war” was possible.

Court records show a text message from Vallejo after the siege noting that he was “back at the hotel and outfitted.”

“Have 2 trucks available. Let me know how I can assist,” he allegedly wrote.

Vallejo, Rhodes, and fellow conspirators also met in Virginia after the assault to celebrate over dinner.

On Friday, Rhodes spoke very little in court, typical for a perfunctory first appearance. Through his public defender, however, he did tell Judge Deborah Fine that he wished to enter a not guilty plea.

Judge Deborah Fine reminded Vallejo that his showing on Friday was not his arraignment—that will be held in the weeks ahead in Washington, D.C., where the charges were originally filed—but she acknowledged the decision.

Now: Vallejo pleads not guilty to all counts. Judge Fine says this is not an arraignment but that will be noted. He'll be arraigned in Washington. He will waive identity hearing but will have a detention hearing on Jan. 20.

— Brandi Buchman (@Brandi_Buchman) January 14, 2022


Like Rhodes, a detention hearing is scheduled for Vallejo on Jan. 20 in Phoenix.

Vallejo’s LinkedIn page lists him as a graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. As first pointed out by The Daily Beast, he also appears to have experience as a radio telephone operator for the U.S. Army. And according to his profile on a website for the nonprofit Homefront Battle Buddies veterans group, he serves as the organization’s vice chair and interim secretary.

In what appeared to be a post from Vallejo on the Homefront Battle Buddies Twitter account just ahead of his arrest, he wrote: “I [sic] about to enter the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI to interrogate them regarding the January 6th affair. Wish me luck. Report to follow.”

We'll, my friends... I about to enter the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI to interrogate them regarding the January 6th affair. Wish me luck. Report to follow. 🙏🤞

— Homefront Battle Buddies (@HomefrontBB) January 13, 2022
 
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