Oath Keepers leader to appear in court Friday on seditious conspiracy charges
(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 will make their first appearance in court Friday.
The Justice Department on Thursday unveiled its case against Stewart Rhodes and Edward Vallejo, who were both arrested Thursday in Texas and Arizona, respectively.
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,Rhodes -- the leader of the far-right Oath Keepers -- will appear before Magistrate Judge Kimberly Priest Johnson in Plano, Texas, 2:30 pm CT on Friday.
Vallejo -- who prosecutors accuse of transporting weapons and coordinating with Rhodes a so-called "quick reaction force" team for January 6 -- will appear virtually in a Phoenix hearing at 12:30 pm MT, before Magistrate Judge Deborah Fine.
The hearings are what is known as a first appearance hearing, and it is not expected that the two defendants will enter their pleas.
Instead, the hearings will concern their pretrial release and potential bail conditions.
Prosecutors' decision to bring the charge seditious conspiracy carries symbolic and political weight; the relevant statute dates back to the Civil War-era.
Of particular note are the accusations in the new filings that Rhodes, Vallejo and other defendants continued plotting even after the riot to disrupt 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 Mehta recently rejected the request by several Oath Keeper defendants that he throw that charge out, and its use has been upheld by other judges presiding over separate January 6 cases.
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.