Oath Keeper charged with conspiracy in U.S. Capitol attack

FILE PHOTO: Chansley protests following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, in Phoenix
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By Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An Oath Keeper on Tuesday became the latest member of the right-wing group charged with conspiracy for his alleged role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, as more than 535 people have now been arrested for joining in that deadly violence.

The FBI said about 40 people, including members of the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys and Three Percenters, face conspiracy charges related to the Jan. 6 riot, when hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Congress from certifying his election defeat.

Tuesday marked six months since the assault, which the FBI said has also led to more than 165 arrests of people on charges of assaulting, resisting or impeding police officers and other employees of the Capitol, including 50 charged with using a deadly weapon or seriously injuring a police officer.

Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died in the violence.

Federal prosecutors said David Moerschel, a 43-year-old alleged Oath Keeper from Punta Gorda, Florida, had been arrested and charged with federal crimes including conspiracy and obstruction of an official proceeding.

Separately, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth rejected a bid to release accused rioter Jacob Chansley, nicknamed the "QAnon Shaman," saying his defense attorney had not provided any evidence that he should not be detained as he awaits trial.

Chansley is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation by the Bureau of Prisons to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Chansley was famously photographed inside the U.S. Senate Chamber wearing a horned hat, and is known for supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory that casts Trump as a savior figure and elite Democrats as a cabal of Satanist pedophiles and cannibals.

He faces six criminal charges, including violent entry.

"For better or worse, Mr. Chansley has become an iconic image of Jan. 6, akin to Nike’s swoosh. An optics-driven world does not always yield justice," his defense attorney, Albert Watkins, told Reuters.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch and Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Scott Malone and Matthew Lewis)