US jury urged to convict Oath Keepers

A prosecutor has urged jurors to convict Stewart Rhodes, founder of the right-wing Oath Keepers militia group, and four associates, saying they "threw their bodies to the cause" on the day of the US Capitol attack to try to block Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory over then-president Donald Trump.

Prosecution and defence lawyers gave closing arguments to the jury in federal court in Washington in an eight-week trial that has included testimony from 50 witnesses and video of the January 6, 2021, rampage by Trump supporters at the Capitol.

The defence will complete its closing arguments on Monday before jurors begin deliberations.

The defendants, their lawyers told the jury, went to Washington that day to protest the election and provide security to high-profile speakers at political rallies, and had no plan to storm the Capitol, nor were they ordered to do so.

Rhodes and co-defendants Thomas Caldwell, Jessica Watkins, Kenneth Harrelson and Kelly Meggs are charged with multiple felonies in connection with the Capitol attack including seditious conspiracy, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

"These defendants banded together and agreed to do whatever was necessary, up to and including using force and violence, to stop the election result from becoming finalised, and then on January 6, they struck," prosecutor Kathryn Rakoczy told the jury on Friday.

The Capitol attack followed false claims by Trump, a Republican, and his allies that the November 2020 presidential election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud. Biden, a Democrat, took office two weeks later.

The rioters attacked police and sent lawmakers, staff and even Trump's own vice-president, Mike Pence, fleeing for safety.

Prosecutors presented video of the riots, text messages, audio recordings, surveillance footage and excerpts from the testimony of confessed co-conspirators.

Three of the five defendants - Rhodes, Caldwell and Watkins - also took the witness stand in their own defence.

As Rakoczy recapped the evidence on Friday, she sought to convince the jury that the defendants' inflammatory banter about the 2020 election was more than just bluster.

The prosecution has said members of the Oath Keepers conspired to use force to keep Trump in power by stopping Congress from certifying Biden's election victory.

The defence painted a different picture.

"There was no meeting of the minds. There was no plan," James Lee Bright, one of Rhodes' attorneys, told jurors.