FRONT PAGE: Oath Keepers Leader Appears In Court On Seditious Conspiracy Charges – CNN

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(CNN)As the Justice Department’s January 6 investigation takes a new turn with the use — for the first time in the Capitol attack prosecutions — of the seditious conspiracy charge, the founder of the Oath Keepers and another individual facing the charge made their first appearances in court Friday.

The Justice Department on Thursday unveiled its case against Stewart Rhodes and Edward Vallejo, who were arrested Thursday in Texas and Arizona, respectively.

The court filings made public Thursday also added the charge to the case that nine other defendants were already facing for their alleged involvement in the riot that disrupted Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s election win on January 6, 2021.

At some point, those defendants will have an arraignment for them to enter their plea to the new seditious conspiracy charge, but those proceedings have not been scheduled yet.

A magistrate judge on Friday scheduled a January 20 detention hearing for Rhodes — the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers — during his initial court appearance on Friday and he will remain in custody until then. According to his lawyers, Rhodes entered a not guilty plea at his arraignment.

Rhodes and his attorneys will appear before the same judge — Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson — and argue that he shouldn’t be detained because he’s neither a flight risk, nor a danger to the public. After Friday’s hearing, Rhodes’ lawyers stated that they intend to appeal to the judge if he refuses to waive his detention.

Appearing in Plano, Texas, Rhodes waived his right to have his indictment read in court. The hearing ended in less than a minute.

At another hearing Friday afternoon before Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine in Phoenix that lasted less than 10 minutes, Vallejo — who appeared virtually from the Central Arizona Florence Correctional Complex — was ordered detained until another hearing scheduled for January 20, where his detention pretrial will be further discussed. This will also mark one year since Biden’s inauguration.

Vallejo’s public defender, Debbie Jang, told the court he intended to plead not guilty to all charges against him, although a formal plea was not requested at Friday’s hearing. Vallejo, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with a black mask, was wheeled to his videoconference camera and seated in a chair. Fine was told by Vallejo that he would like to have his own lawyer as soon as possible, but that he had not yet been able get in touch.

Prosecutors accuse Vallejo of transporting weapons and coordinating with Rhodes a so-called quick reaction force team for January 6.

The Justice Department has already argued forcefully for several others in the case already to be held in jail, and prosecutors could even show evidence to the court to convince the judges the men could be dangerous

Those discussions may continue when their cases — as is expected — move to DC’s federal court, where the other January 6 prosecutions are proceeding.

Rhodes has previously denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors’ decision to bring the charge seditious conspiracy carries symbolic and political weight; the relevant statute dates back to the Civil War-era. But it is also a risk for prosecutors, as use of the charge in the past — most recently in a 2010 case concerning a militia plot in Michigan — has faltered under scrutiny from judges.

Attorney General Merrick Garland had been reluctant to bring the charge, CNN previously reported, but prosecutors in the latest indictment were able to show granular details of alleged planning and logistics coordination among the defendants in the lead up to the Capitol attack. The new filings allege that Rhodes, Vallejo, and other defendants plotted to continue their plans even after the peaceful transfer of power.

Before the seditious conspiracy charge was brought, a central charge in DOJ’s Oath Keeper case was conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. US District Judge Amit Mahta rejected several Oath Keeper defendants’ request that he dismiss that charge. However, other judges who presided over separate January 6 cases have upheld that charge.

Several Oath Keepers who do not currently face the seditious conspiracy charge brought by the DOJ Thursday face a conspiracy obstruction charge. That charge, as well as the seditious conspiracy charge, carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence.

Four of those indicted in the DOJ’s Oath Keepers’ prosecutions are known to be cooperating with the government.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Friday.

CNN’s Ashley Killough, Bob Ortega, Andy Rose, Katelyn Polantz, Evan Perez, Hannah Rabinowitz and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.

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