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capitol riot aftermath

Oath Keeper pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy in Capitol riot case

Joshua James, a 34-year-old member of the far-right Oath Keepers extremist group arrested last year in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one count of seditious conspiracy and one count of obstructing an official proceeding, as part of a plea deal reached with the government.

This is the first plea deal for a Capitol riot defendant charged with seditious conspiracy, ABC News reports. Under the agreement, James, a resident of Arab, Alabama, will cooperate with federal authorities and testify before a grand jury.

James' plea agreement states that in November 2020, during a meeting with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and others, he learned "of their plans to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power." James and other Oath Keepers kept weapons and ammunition in a hotel room near Washington, D.C., the plea deal says, and they were instructed to "be prepared, if called upon, to report to the White House grounds to secure the perimeter and use lethal force if necessary against anyone who tried to remove President Trump from the White House, including the National Guard or other government actors."

As part of the plea agreement, James also admitted to entering the Capitol on Jan. 6 and assaulting a law enforcement officer. He told prosecutors that after the riot, he, Rhodes, and other Oath Keepers tried to conceal their identities, using burner phones and changing their appearances.

The maximum penalty for seditious conspiracy is 20 years in prison, three years of  supervised release, and a $250,000 fine, ABC News reports. The judge will take into consideration James' plea deal and cooperation at his sentencing.