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Attorney for Oath Keepers charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

Following the arrest of the extremist militia group's founder nine months ago, lawyer Kellye SoRelle declared herself president of the Oath Keepers.

GRANBURY, Texas (CN) — An attorney for the Oath Keepers, an extremist right-wing militia group that tried to overthrow the U.S. government last year, was arrested on Thursday and charged with conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.

Kellye SoRelle was taken into custody this morning in Junction, Texas, after prosecutors unsealed a grand jury indictment Wednesday charging her with conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and tampering with evidence in the Department of Justice’s grand jury investigation into the Capitol riot.

The 43-year-old Granbury attorney describes herself as general counsel for the Oath Keepers. She volunteered for Lawyers for Trump during the 2020 election and was involved in litigation seeking to overturn the election results.

Prosecutors accuse SoRelle of trying to corruptly persuade people to withhold or damage evidence that could be used in the grand jury investigation of the riot, though their 3-page indictment offers few details.

“SoRelle did corruptly persuade and attempt to corruptly persuade other persons with intent to cause and induce such persons to (A) withhold records, documents, and other objects from an official proceeding, that is, the Grand Jury investigation into the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, and (B) alter, destroy, mutilate, and conceal objects with intent to impair the objects’ integrity and availability for use in such a Grand Jury investigation,” the indictment states.

Prosecutors say SoRelle began conspiring to obstruct Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s victory in December 2020, one month before the Capitol attack. Come Jan. 6, they continue, SoRelle obstructed Congress’ ceremony and aided and abetted others “within the District of Columbia and elsewhere … to do the same.” It was one day after the riot that SoRelle allegedly tried to convince people to tamper with evidence.

The FBI seized SoRelle’s iPhone in September 2021 as part of an investigation into seditious conspiracy and other charges. SoRelle told HuffPost at the time that she talked with FBI agents for four hours at a coffee shop and said they either think she is the “mastermind or they wanted a free dig through everything — either way it is unethical.”

SoRelle has close ties with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who was among 11 members charged in January with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Capitol riot. After Rhodes’ arrest, SoRelle declared herself as president of the Oath Keepers.

In July, SoRelle told NBC that Rhodes asked her for contacts for former President Donald Trump’s team in the weeks leading up to the Jan. 6 attack. She says she declined.

She also testified this year before the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Attack.

The indictment charges her with three felonies — conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of an official proceeding and obstruction of justice for tampering with documents — and one misdemeanor: entering and remaining in a restricted building and grounds.

SoRelle is set to make her initial appearance on Thursday afternoon in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Meanwhile, the federal trial for the 11 Oath Keepers’ facing seditious conspiracy and other Capitol riot charges is set to begin on Sept. 27 in Washington.

Three Oath Keepers’ members who are charged with seditious conspiracy — Joshua James, Brian Ulrich and William Todd Wilson — have already pleaded guilty.

The Justice Department has so far charged more than 860 people in connection with the Capitol riot. As of last month, about 283 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors, 70 have pleaded guilty to felonies, and at least 18 people have been sentenced to prison. 

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