Former Proud Voice leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of the far-right extremist group were charged on Thursday with a plot to attack the US Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican Party lost the 2020 presidential election. was convicted.
A Washington, DC jury found Tarrio guilty of treasonous conspiracy after hearing testimony from dozens of eyewitnesses over three months in one of the most serious cases to emerge from the surprise attack that unfolded on January 6, 2021, as the world watched. Justice done. Live telecast.
The case is a significant milestone for the Justice Department, which has found guilty of seditious conspiracy against the leaders of two major extremist groups that prosecutors said were intent on ousting Democratic President Joe Biden from the White House at all costs. Is. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Tario, who has been in jail since his arrest in March 2022, showed no emotion as the verdict was read out. He hugged one lawyer and shook hands with another before leaving the courtroom. As the verdict was announced, several people sitting among the relatives of the accused wiped away tears.
The decision came after a trial that took more than twice as long as originally expected because of infighting, bad decisions, and disclosures by government informants within the group. As the special prosecutor investigating Trump, including key aspects of the January 6 riots, securing a conviction for Tarrio, a senior leader who did not participate in the riots himself, could embolden the Justice Department.
In recent weeks, special prosecutor Jack Smith has sought testimony from several people close to Trump. That includes former Vice President Mike Pence, who testified before a grand jury last week and potentially provided prosecutors with key first-person accounts of some of the conversations and events prior to the riots.
Torrio was the top target in the largest Justice Department investigation in US history. He led a neo-fascist group known for street fighting with left-wing activists after Trump maligned the Proud Boys for “standing back and waiting” during his first debate with Biden.
Tarrio was not in Washington on 6 January. Because he was arrested two days earlier in a separate incident and ordered to leave the capital. But prosecutors said he organized and directed the attack by the Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol that day.
In addition to Tarrio, a Miami resident, three other Proud Boys were convicted of seditious conspiracy: Ethan Nordian, Joseph Biggs, and Zachary Rehl.
The jury has yet to reach a unanimous verdict on the treason charge against the fifth defendant, Dominic Pezzola. A new member who did not speak to the other accused until after the charges were filed. However, Pezzola was indicted on other more serious charges.
Tario, Nordian, Biggs and Rehl were also indicted on two other counts: conspiracy to obstruct Congressional certification of Biden’s election victory and obstruction of law enforcement. All four were cleared of assault charges by Pezzola for stealing police riot shields.
The judge told the jury to continue deliberating on several remaining counts in which they failed to reach a consensus.
Rehl’s attorney, Carmen Hernandez, said that her client “continues to maintain his innocence”. Lawyers for Biggs and Pezzola declined to comment. Tarrio’s attorney declined to comment.
Prosecutors told jurors the group considered itself “Trump’s army” and was preparing for an “all-out war” to prevent Biden from becoming president.
Prosecutor Conor Merlo said in closing arguments, “The Proud Boys stand behind Donald Trump and are willing to commit violence on his behalf.”
The basis of the government case was hundreds of messages exchanged by the Proud Boys in the days leading up to January 6 about what would happen if an extreme-right extremist group debunked Trump’s false claims of fraudulent elections and Biden took office. Shows fear of trading. ,
As the Proud Boys filled the Capitol, Tarrio cheered them on from afar, writing on social media, “Do what you gotta do.” Later that day, in a Proud Boys encrypted group chat, someone asked what to do next. Tarrio replied, “Do it again.”
“make no mistake.” Tarrio wrote in another message. “We did it.”
The defense team denied there was any plot to attack the Capitol or to block congressional certification of Biden’s victory. An attorney for Tarrio tried to pin the blame on Trump, claiming the former president had incited the attack by a pro-Trump mob when he urged the crowd near the White House to “fight like hell”.