Oath Keepers attorney Kellye SoRelle to plead guilty in Jan. 6 case (2024)

An attorney for the Oath Keepers charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol will plead guilty after being charged with conspiring with the right-wing group’s founder to obstruct Congress’s certification of the results of the 2020 election, her attorney and federal prosecutors said.

In separate court filings Monday, Kellye SoRelle’s federal defender and a prosecutor wrote that SoRelle is set to enter a guilty plea on July 17 after entering into a deal with the government. Assistant Federal Defender Maureen Scott Franco said her client is indigent and asked a federal judge in an unopposed motion to order the Justice Department to pay for SoRelle’s travel between her home in Texas and D.C.

Neither Franco nor Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn L. Rakoczy elaborated on the details of what charges would be included in the plea, which is not final until accepted by a judge.

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Franco did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in D.C. declined to comment.

A volunteer for Lawyers for Trump, SoRelle became Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes’s girlfriend and a key post-2020 election contact with pro-Trump, GOP and “Stop the Steal” groups.

The filing paves the way for the resolution of charges against SoRelle, 44, who was one of the last members of the Oath Keepers to be charged in late August 2022.

Rhodes and five co-defendants were the first to be accused of and convicted of seditious conspiracy in the massive Jan. 6 investigation. He was one of the highest-profile figures to face trial in connection with rioting by angry Trump supporters who injured scores of law enforcement officers, ransacked offices and forced lawmakers to evacuate the U.S. Capitol.

Rhodes was sentenced to 18 years in prison for leading the group that stashed weapons outside Washington and whose members forced entry into the Capitol while wearing military-style gear, hoping that President Donald Trump would call on militia groups to take up arms to keep him in office.

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SoRelle was not accused of attempting to use force to oppose the peaceful transfer of presidential power between Trump and Joe Biden. But a four-count indictment said she joined Rhodes outside the Capitol that day in a shared plan to intimidate and thwart lawmakers’ work. The indictment accused her of conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding, tampering with evidence by directing co-conspirators to erase their phones, and misdemeanor trespassing in a restricted building or grounds.

SoRelle initially pleaded not guilty, but her case was frozen when a judge found her mentally incompetent in June 2023, one month before she was set to stand trial. U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta did not specify any reason, but found that both government and defense experts reported that she was suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering her unable to understand the proceedings or assist in her defense.

SoRelle’s competence was restored earlier this year after a 2½-month evaluation while confined by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, according to court filings. She was set to face rescheduling for trial next week.

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On June 28, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that U.S. prosecutors could not broadly apply to Jan. 6 defendants a statute that makes it a crime to corruptly obstruct or impede an official proceeding — the basis of two of SoRelle’s four counts. The high court overturned lower courts that said the law could be applied to interfering with Congress’s election certification session, finding instead that it could only be used to charge the corrupt impairment or destruction of evidence such as records or documents.

The obstruction and conspiracy counts that could be dropped against SoRelle are each punishable by up to 20 years in prison, although the average sentence for Jan. 6 defendants convicted of no other felonies who are first offenders has been slightly more than two years. The evidence-tampering count faced by SoRelle also carries a maximum 20-year punishment, while the misdemeanor count carries a one-year maximum.

SoRelle emerged as an intriguing figure in Rhodes’s trial and in Congress’s investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. Rhodes said he had designated her as his liaison to the pro-Trump, GOP and “Stop the Steal” campaigns, and she became a point of contact with Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio. Rhodes also ordered followers to destroy evidence through SoRelle, according to court evidence.

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In a July 2022 hearing, the House Jan. 6 committee played a snippet of SoRelle’s deposition with investigators earlier that year. She said that Trump political confidant Roger Stone, Infowars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Stop the Steal coordinator Ali Alexander became “the center point” for Trump’s post-2020 election protests leading up to the Jan. 6 riot that forced the evacuation of Congress.

Five people died in or immediately after the Jan. 6 violence, which left more than 100 police officers injured and caused about $3 million in damage. Trump supporters inflamed by his false claims that the election had been stolen stormed the building, ransacked offices, and shouted that they were searching for lawmakers and Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, who refused to overturn the results.

On the day SoRelle was arrested, Trump, now the presumptive Republican nominee for president in 2024, announced that he would issue full pardons and a government apology to Capitol riot defendants if he were to win. Trump similarly spoke out in defense of Jan. 6 defendants in January 2022 at an Arizona rally days after Rhodes was indicted, attacking what he called the Justice Department’s “appalling persecution of political prisoners.”

More than 1,400 people have been federally charged in the Jan. 6 attack, including more than 500 charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding police. More than 130 allegedly used weapons or caused serious bodily injury that day. About 1,000 have pleaded or been found guilty at trial, a third of them for felonies and two-thirds for misdemeanors.

Oath Keepers attorney Kellye SoRelle to plead guilty in Jan. 6 case (2024)
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