Washington – Twelve Washington, D.C. residents have been selected from among dozens as jurors in the most high-profile trial to date in the Justice Department’s investigation into January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

A jury was selected by prosecutors and attorneys for the five defendants in the case; members of Art Oath keepers the group is accused of violently resisting the peaceful transfer of power from former President Donald Trump to President Joe Biden during a joint session of Congress being held to confirm the results of the 2020 election.

The high-profile trial, which resumes Monday with opening statements, will be a test for the Justice Department after charging Oath Keepers founder Stuart Rhodes and his associates in a seditious conspiracy, the most serious charge brought in the attack on the Capitol on January 6.

Rhodes and Florida residents Kelly Maggs and Kenneth Harrelson; Jessica Watkins of Ohio; and Thomas Caldwell of Virginia, all accused of planning the attack with other Oath Keepers in the months leading up to Jan. 6, including allegedly stockpiling weapons in a Washington, D.C., hotel room and coordinating movements both in and around the Capitol him. rebellion All five have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges.

Capitol Riot Oath Keepers
Members of the Oath Keepers organization on the east front of the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington.

Manuel Balche Seneta / AP

A federal court in Washington, D.C., was also under pressure as the trial began jury selection, tasked with finding a newly appointed panel of twelve jurors plus four alternates to serve as fair arbitrators in a politically motivated trial expected to last more than a month. .

For three days, Judge Amit Mehta and lawyers investigated the backgrounds of residents randomly selected as potential jurors in the case.

They were asked about their views on the January 6 attack – most said it was alarming or disappointing – and whether they were familiar with the Oath Keepers group that described as a loosely organized group of right-wing, anti-government extremists. The lawyers also pressed people about their views on Trump and his supporters.

Jurors did not have to hold neutral views about the attack or have prior knowledge of the militia group to be qualified. Instead, the court pressed them on whether they could dispel any preconceived notions and remain neutral about the evidence presented at trial, a job some said they found too difficult given their views on Trump, Jan. 6 or themselves. the accused.

And in some cases, attorneys questioned residents about their social media habits, presenting to the court excerpts from a person’s social media posts found online during questioning.

The potential jurors who faced questioning held a variety of positions in and around the public service, from a USAID employee to a lawyer who worked for the Department of Labor. Many were connected to the Capitol itself through friends or neighbors, and in one case even had a college internship.

And while the consensus among the group was that the events of January 6 were “very troubling,” some said they received little, if any, news that day, and were not interested in the coverage. The news, said one juror who was later acquitted, was “sad even for old people.”

Ultimately, the panel was whittled down to a final 12 jurors, made up of people who have participated in women’s rights rallies in the nation’s capital, work for the TSA or the State Department, and have relatives who serve in law enforcement.

Some of them are the fathers of children, and some of them have a father who was a prosecutor in another state.

Despite the diversity, each of those selected told Mehta they felt they could be fair in evaluating the evidence at the trial, which is set to begin Monday.

Prosecutors said their opening arguments will last more than an hour, after which each defendant’s team will have a chance to respond.

The government contends, and will have to prove to this jury beyond a reasonable doubt, that the group’s planning, communication, and coordination were vital components of the chaos that occurred that day, and were intended to impede both the lawful business of Congress and the peaceful transition of power. . Lawyers said they would argue that the jurors present on Jan. 6 were not rioting or resisting Mr. Biden’s presidency, but were protecting and providing first aid to protesters and those who spoke at rallies in support of Trump. Other lawyers asked the court to allow them to invoke the Sedition Act as a defense, arguing that their clients had been waiting for the former president to call on police teams to take action, a call that never came.

Before dismissing the newly selected jury for the day Thursday, Mehta said he’s sure they didn’t expect at the start of the week that they would face such a trial. After the jury returns its verdict – whatever it is – Mehta and the courthouse will restart the entire process as four more alleged oath keepers charged with the seditious conspiracy will stand trial.