Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes tests positive for Covid-19, delaying trial at least a day


The seditious conspiracy trial against members of the right-wing militia group Oath Keepers has been delayed after the group’s leader, Stewart Rhodes, has tested positive for Covid.

Judge Amit Mehta told prosecutors and defense lawyers that they would reconvene Tuesday to further discuss the trial schedule. Mehta noted that the trial could be delayed until Rhodes, who is currently in jail, has tested negative or is no longer presenting symptoms.

“By now I’m sure everyone has heard the unwelcome news about Mr. Rhodes,” Mehta said in court on Monday. “The bottom line is that he’s not available to be here today and won’t be for at least the next five days.”

The delay will push back the Justice Department’s case – which was originally scheduled to conclude by the end of this week – by at least a week if not longer and could create scheduling issues with two other high-profile trials Mehta has scheduled in November.

Rhodes’s lawyers said he is in “total isolation” in jail and have not yet been able to speak to him over the phone. Attorney Phillip Linder told Mehta that they are hopeful that Rhodes could attend court proceedings via Zoom, but it is not clear if the jail can accommodate that request.

According to his attorneys, Rhodes was not feeling well over the weekend and tested positive Monday morning. Everyone in the courtroom has been required to wear masks during the trial, except for those testifying or lawyers questioning a witness.

Last week, a member of the jury was dismissed after contracting Covid. Mehta said at the time that court staff would make tests available for the jurors and lawyers every day.