As Congress continues to uncover the events that took place during the Jan. 6 insurrection, the US Justice Department leveled new accusations against suspected members of the far-right Oath Keepers relating to their involvement in the Capitol attack.

Eleven members of the militia group, including their leader Stewart Rhodes, have been charged with seditious conspiracy for their role. Prosecutors allege that Rhodes and 10 co-conspirators intended to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden that day.

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The Justice Department also claimed that a member of the Oath Keepers group brought explosives to the Washington, D.C., area ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

“It is CRITICAL that all patriots who can be in D.C. get to D.C. to stand tall in support of President Trump’s fight to defeat the enemies foreign and domestic who are attempting a coup, through the massive voter fraud and related attacks on our Republic. We Oath Keepers are both honor-bound and eager to be there in strength to do our part,” Rhodes, posted on the Oath Keepers website, Jan. 4, 2021.

Who are the Oath Keepers?

The Oath Keepers are an anti-government, right-wing political organization who seek members with military or law-enforcement backgrounds. The group says its members are loyal to the US Constitution rather than to any government leader.

Also Read | Jan 6 hearings: How Oath Keepers, Proud Boys have been linked to Donald Trump

Their founder, Rhodes, said in 2013 that he wanted to see a “restoration of the militia in this country.” The members of the group act as a local line of defense against perceived federal tyranny.

The Oath Keepers have played a major role in America’s far-right patriot movement since the group formed in 2009. 

In 2014, members formed their own patrol in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of an unarmed Black man in 2014. During the anniversary protest, they provided security to an Infowars reporter.

In 2015, Rhodes said they would protect notorious Kentucky clerk Kim Davis from arrest.

In an alleged attempt to discourage and report voter fraud, members of the group patrolled the site of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, and polling locations in 2016 and 2020.

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“Well, I think what we have to realize is that, you know, Trump actually failed. … He had a duty and responsibility to step up. But he failed to do that and he allowed a ChiCom puppet into the White House and I think we now need to just declare that to be illegitimate and refuse to comply with anything that comes out of his mouth, anything he signs, anything passed as so-called legislation. Label it ‘pretend legislation’ like the Founding Fathers did,” Rhodes said in an interview on Infowars’ “The Alex Jones Show” on Jan. 20, 2021.