Proud Boys trial – live: Police testify to ‘dire’ scene on Jan 6 as far-right group faces sedition charges

A trial for five members of far-right nationalist group the Proud Boys began on Friday with testimony from a US Capitol Police officer and video and radio transmission audio evidence detailing the movements of the crowd during the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January, 2021.

Former leader Enrique Tarrio and members Ethan Nordean, Joe Biggs, Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl are charged with seditious conspiracy for their alleged roles in the riots. If convicted, they face up to 20 years in prison.

Federal prosecutors will try to convince a jury that the defendants conspired to forcefully oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power when a joint session of Congress convened to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The US Department of Justice has argued that the men were among the first rioters to break past barriers on the Capitol grounds that day. In opening arguments, prosecutors said that the five men “took aim at the heart of democracy” by conspiring to storm the Capitol.

Meanwhile, Mr Rehl’s attorney Carmen Hernandez made a bizarre reference to Rudy Giuliani and his infamous hair dye moment. She also argued that the Proud Boys had been marred by “myths” of bigotry.

Key points

  • Federal prosecutor says Proud Boys ‘took aim at heart of democracy'

  • Enrique Tarrio’s lawyer says Trump ‘unleashed the mob’ on January 6

  • Who are the Proud Boys?

  • Why five Proud Boys members are on trial

  • Judge allows prosecutors to use Trump’s ‘stand back and stand by’ remark as evidence

Capitol officer details ‘dire’ scene as Proud Boys led a mob towards the Capitol

15:55 , Alex Woodward

In his testimony, US Capitol Police inspector Thomas Lloyd said he went to Mitch McConnell’s Senate office shortly after the mob breached Capitol barricades aroung 1pm.

There he had a “bird’s-eye view” of the scene, where he could see rioters “beating up my officers,” he said.

Jurors listened to Capitol police radio transmissions and were shown extensive footage of the crowds, including defendants Joseph Biggs and Zachary Rehl at the front of a mob.

Mr Lloyd discussed the use of “less lethal” teams on the ground, while radio transmissions heard from officers describing crowds pushing them and throwing projectiles.

“It was a very dire situation. The level of injuries of the officers,” My Lloyd said.

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US Capitol Police Inspector Thomas Lloyd is first witness

15:06 , Alex Woodward

US Capitol Police Inspector Thomas Lloyd, who has worked for the agency for more than 30 years, is the first witness to testify in the Proud Boys trial.

He wrote a victim impact statement about Eugene Goodman and other Capitol officers in the wake of the attack attached in a court filing last month, telling the court that his colleague averted “bloodshed” in the Capitol.

Officer Goodman famously led a mob up Capitol stairs away from the Senate lobby and has been lauded by the White House and members of Congress for his actions.

“If Officer Goodman had not led the Defendant and the rest of the mob away from the Senate Lobby and an attempt was made to breach those doors, there would have been tremendous bloodshed,” Mr Lloyd wrote.

“Several rioters would have been carried out of the building if not for the quick thinking of Officer Goodman. ... Many of my officers were not as lucky as the Defendant. Several of my officers had to be carried out of the Capitol Building on January 6 due to injuries. Some have returned to a Full Duty Status, others are in a Restricted Duty Status, and a few were not permitted to return to at all due to the severity of their injuries.”

The second day of the Proud Boys trial begins

14:11 , Alex Woodward

Good morning in America.

A second day of the Proud Boys trial for seditious conspiracy charges will begin shortly in US District Court in Washington DC.

Here’s a look at the prosecution’s opening statements from yesterday’s hearing:

Proud Boys rallied to ‘take the f****** Capitol’ before Trump’s speech, trial hears

Proud Boys claim footage from Jan 6 is ‘not guilty video'

14:00 , Rachel Sharp

Dominic Pezzola’s attorney Roger Root’s opening statement included some questionable moments.

He played a video of his client smoking a cigarette in the Capitol near the end of the riot claiming victory, telling the jury that they would soon come to refer to it as the “not guilty video”.

“This is f***ing awesome. I knew we could take this motherf***er if we just tried hard enough. Proud of your motherf***ing boy,” Mr Pezzola says in the footage, a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

Mr Root played the video at least four times as he argued that it makes clear Mr Pezzola’s intention was only to seize the Capitol building, and not to disrupt Congress.

He also claimed the case against the defendants was ultimately over a “six-hour delay of Congress”.

Mr Pezzola is accused of robbery and destroying property for taking a riot shield from a police officer and later using it to smash a window at the Capitol. Mr Root asked the jury if they thought “this looks like a robbery” as footage of both incidents was played in court.

The first clip shows his client tearing the shield away from an officer and leaving with it.

The second video shows another man using a 2x4 to create an initial break in a window of the Capitol, after which Mr Pezzola used the shield to clear out the rest of the glass. Mr Root argued that since the window had already been broken by another rioter, Mr Pezzola had really caused no additional damage to the property.

The Independent’s Graig Graziosi reports from the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse, in Washington DC:

What happened on opening day of the Proud Boys Jan 6 trial?

Proud Boys member’s attorney makes a bizarre reference to Rudy Giuliani in opening arguments

13:30 , Rachel Sharp

During opening arguments on Thursday, Zachary Rehl’s attorney Carmen Hernandez spent a good portion of her opening argument holding her microphone over her head, ensuring that few people outside the courtroom — which included most of the press in an adjacent viewing room at the courthouse — could not hear what she was saying.

At one point she began citing the First Amendment, before moving the mic away from her mouth for an extended period of time.

By the time she brought it back so that her comments were audible, she had somehow worked her way to talking about former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his infamous black hair dye incident.

It remains a mystery how this related to the case.

ICYMI: Defense attorneys argue prosecution’s evidence does not prove conspiracy

13:00 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Attorney Nick Smith, whose client Ethan Nordean is among five men accused of seditious conspiracy for their role in the Capitol attack, said jurors will not see any evidence from federal prosecutors that supports a charge of conspiracy, alleging the prosecution’s evidence is selective and misleading.

The defense so far mirrors other high-profile January 6 cases involving serious charges of conspiracy or other felonies, which have largely relied on arguing that what defendants did was wrong but did not rise to the level of a serious crime, and that the “plot” behind it was nothing more than rhetoric.

ICYMI: Defense attorneys have condemned the Capitol attack. Dominic Pezzola’s lawyer called it ‘one of the lamest’

12:00 , Alex Woodward

In court hearings and documents surrounding the assault on the US Capitol, defense attorneys have largely conceded that January 6 was an embarassment or a vile attack on democracy while asserting that their clients’ actions did not amount to serious crimes or conspiracy against the government.

A defense attorney for Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola – who was filmed breaking a window as a mob breached the building – has claimed that “the entire case is about a six hour delay of Congress.”

Roger Roots said that “the government makes a big deal about this six-hour recess.”

“If [the Capitol riot] was an attack, it might have been one of the lamest attacks one could imagine,” he said in his opening arguments. “The attacks carried few weapons other than megaphones ... Imagine an insurrection in which the insurrections were in complete compliance with DC gun laws.”

Mr Pezzola is accused of using a riot shield taken from an officer to break a window. Mr Pezzola appears to have not initially broken it. Mr Roots argued since damage was already done, Mr Pezzola smashing the remainder of it out with his shield “did not cause additional damage.”

“These are not thousand dollar windows,” he said.

Mic issues, Rudy Giuliani’s hair dye and blaming Trump: How opening day of the Proud Boys trial went down

11:38 , Rachel Sharp

The attorneys defending five members of the Proud Boys against seditious conspiracy charges would have you believe that their actions were simultaneously “disgraceful” and afflicted by “myths” about their bigotry, that they were mere “scapegoats” misled by Donald Trump, and that they regret their actions – even though they stand by the belief that the Capitol riot was little more than a “six hour delay of Congress”.

Former Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio, and four members Zachary Rehl, Ethan Nordean, Joe Biggs, and Dominic Pezzola are accused of conspiring to incite the January 6 Capitol riot in an effort to stop the peaceful transfer of power following the 2020 election.

On Thursday, they all returned to the scene of their alleged crimes as they were brought into the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse, just across the street from the US Capitol grounds, for the start of their trial.

The Independent’s Graig Graziosi reports from the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse, in Washington DC:

Could a new reward solve Jan 6’s biggest mystery?

11:00 , Alex Woodward

Federal law enforcement has made more than 900 arrests over the last two years connected to the Capitol riot.

But one prominent suspect has eluded capture: the person accused of planting pipe bombs that were found the day of the riot.

This month, the FBI upped the reward for information leading to an arrest to $500,000.

The Independent’s Graig Graziosi reports:

Could a new reward solve Jan 6’s biggest mystery? Inside hunt for the DC pipe bomber

ICYMI: Prosecutors says Proud Boys ‘took aim at heart of democracy’

10:00 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

In his opening arguments to kick off the case on 12 January, Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough said members of the Proud Boys “took aim at the heart of our democracy” on January 6, as members breached the halls of Congress after months of discussing an alleged attack.

“They did not stand back. They did not stand by,” he said, referencing Donald Trump’s remarks to the group in a presidential debate in September of 2020.

“They mobilised,” he said.

“The transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden was stopped at the hand of these defendants,” Mr McCullough added. “And before they realised how much trouble they were in, they celebrated their group’s accomplishments.“

He added that former leader Enrique Tarrio told members “make no mistake, we did this”, a glimpse of various text messages to be used as evidence by the prosecution in their case against the five men on trial.

‘Burn that city to ash’: Why five Proud Boys are on trial two years after January 6

09:00 , Alex Woodward

Weeks after jurors found two members of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers guilty of seditious conspiracy against the government, federal prosecutors are now hoping to convict another high-profile group of rioters connected to the January 6 assault.

Members of the far-right nationalist gang the Proud Boys, including its former leader, face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the Capitol attack.

Pulling from evidence and testimony from dozens of members and guilty pleas from more than a dozen others, federal prosecutors will try to convince a jury in US District Court that five men on trial had conspired to forcefully oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power on 6 January, 2021.

‘Burn that city to ash’: Why five Proud Boys are on trial two years after January 6

ICYMI: Proud Boys rallied to ‘take the f****** Capitol’ before Trump’s January 6 speech, prosecutors say

08:00 , Alex Woodward

Members of the far-right nationalist gang the Proud Boys rallied a crowd to “take the f****** Capitol” as a joint session of Congress convened to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election on January 6, 2021.

In opening arguments in a trial for five members of the group charged with seditious conspiracy for their actions leading up to and during the attack, federal prosecutors showed video taken roughly 20 minutes before then-President Donald Trump addressed his supporters at a nearby rally.

Jurors were shown video of defendant Ethan Nordean from 11.41am on January 6, 2021, according to prosecutors. Someone can be heard saying “Ethan, let’s f****** do it”. Moments later, at 11.47am, that person tells the crowd “take the f****** Capitol”.

Proud Boys rallied to ‘take the f****** Capitol’ before Trump’s speech, trial hears

ICYMI: Enrique Tarrio’s attorney blames Trump for ‘unleashing the mob’ on January 6 at Proud Boys sedition trial

07:00 , Alex Woodward

A defence attorney for former longtime Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio blamed former president Donald Trump for “unleashing that mob” on 6 January, 2021, as a crowd of his supporters stormed the US Capitol.

Sabino Jauregui – whose client is charged with seditious conspiracy along with four other members of the far-right nationalist gang – said it was Mr Trump who told his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell,” not Tarrio or members of his group.

“Enrique didn’t say that. He didn’t say anything to anybody on the grounds of the Capitol. He just happens to be the leader of the Proud Boys,” Mr Jauregui said in his opening arguments in US District Court on 12 January.

Enrique Tarrio’s attorney blames Trump for ‘unleashing the mob’ on January 6

From December: Secret Service flagged White House visit by Proud Boys leader ahead of Jan 6

04:00 , Alex Woodward

Transcripts of depositions released by the House January 6 select committee show the Secret Service notified White House leaders after Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was admitted onto the 18-acre complex for a tour.

Mr Tarrio, who is currently on trial for seditious conspiracy, attended a tour of the executive mansion on 12 December 2020 – the same day he vandalised a Black Lives Matter sign by setting it ablaze after stealing it from a Black church.

Secret Service flagged White House visit by Proud Boys leader ahead of Jan 6

This week: Far-right troll Baked Alaska sentenced to 60 days in prison for role in Jan 6 riots

03:00 , Alex Woodward

Far-right internet troll and streaming personality Anthime Gionet, better known as Baked Alaska, has been sentenced to 60 days in prison with two years of probation for his role in the attack on the US Capitol in 2021.

The conspiracy theorist was sentenced in US District Court in Washington DC on 10 January. He also is required to pay a $2,000 fine.

Gionet pleaded guilty on 22 July to one count of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, after he live-streamed himself on the platform DLive for more than 20 minutes from inside the Capitol on 6 January, 2021, including using a phone inside a Senate office.

Far-right troll Baked Alaska sentenced to 60 days in prison for role in Jan 6 riots

What we learned from the seditious conspiracy trial against Stewart Rhodes and the Oath Keepers

02:00 , Alex Woodward

Another high-profile seditious conspiracy case resulted in convictions against two members of the far-right anti-government militia group the Oath Keepers, including its founder and leader Stewart Rhodes.

It was the biggest case yet in a sprawling federal investigation into the Capitol attack, and built with mountains of painstakingly recreated text messages detailing a violent plot to overthrow the government.

“They said it out loud and in writing,” federal prosecutors said in their opening arguments.

How Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes was found guilty of sedition

ICYMI: Enrique Tarrio planned ‘revolt’ in Washington after ‘enraged’ Proud Boys planned to ‘mobilise'

01:00 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Two days before the January 6 insurrection, now-former Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio was arrested by Washington DC police moments after stepping off a plane from Miami.

He was wanted by police after he admitted to tearing down and burning a Black Lives Matter flag outside a historically Black church in the nation’s capital during December riots connected to a protest supporting Donald Trump’s bogus claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

“The arrest of Enrique Tarrio enraged these defendants,” according to Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough’s opening arguments in the seditious conspiracy trial against five members of the far-right gang on 12 January.

His arrest, law enforcement actions in the wake of November and December protests and riots, and Trump’s “be wild” tweet motivated Proud Boys into action for January 6, according to prosecutors.

“The time for standing back and standing by was over,” Mr McCullough added. “It was time to mobilise.”

The purpose of returning to the nation’s capitol after “Stop the Steal” rallies “was clear,” he added.

“They were coming to stop Congress rom certifying the election from Joe Biden,” Mr McCullough said. “As Enrique Tarrio explained in his post on 1 January, ‘lets bring in the new year with one word in mind. Revolt.’”

Trial will resume at 9am ET on Friday

00:00 , Alex Woodward

The second day of opening arguments and testimony will resume on Friday after federal prosecutors and several defense attorneys gave opening statements in the seditious conspiracy trial for members of the Proud Boys.

Jurors will return to court at 9am on Friday.

Attorney for Joe Biggs is allowed to defend client

Thursday 12 January 2023 23:20 , Alex Woodward

An attorney for defendant Joe Biggs who was suspended from practising law in his home state has been allowed to defend his client in the Proud Boys trial.

Norm Pattis previously defended conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in a defamation case brought by parents of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

He was effectively barred from the Proud Boys trial after he was suspended from practising law in his home state of Connecticut for six months.

Mr Pattis previously called his client’s case a “righteous fight” when he joined in June. Justice Department attorneys have tried to keep him out of the Proud Boys trial.

“Defendant Biggs has a right to choose his counsel, but that right is not unbounded,” attorneys for the Justice Department wrote in a filing on 9 January. “Just as a defendant has no Sixth Amendment right to ‘choose’ a counsel he cannot afford, a defendant has no right to ‘choose’ a counsel that does not have a license to practice law.”

Mr Pattis had offered to withdraw from the case but Judge Timothy Kelly has paused the idea while conflicts of interest issues are sorted out with Mr Biggs’s other attorney.

On Thursday, he told the judge that he received a stay of execution of his license.

There was no objection from federal prosecutors.

Proud Boys defendant went to Washington to ‘celebrate our country and participate in our values’, attorney says

Thursday 12 January 2023 22:39 , Alex Woodward

Carmen Hernandez, a defense attorney for Zachary Rehl, said the Philadelphia-area Proud Boy traveled to Washington DC “to celebrate our country and participate in our values”.

He is described in court documents as a Philadelphia chapter leader of the far-right group.

“Hopefully the firing squads are for the traitors that are trying to steal the election from the American people,” he said in the days after the 2020 presidential election, according to a federal indictment.

He also allegedly circulated a document called “1776 Returns” that laid out a plan to breach buildings around the US Capitol, the US Supreme Court and CNN.

In a court filing, Ms Hernandez said the document was “never shared or otherwise discussed with Mr Rehl” and was sent to Enrique Tarrio “by a female acquaintance”.

“Mr Rehl does not know the woman who sent the document and has not had any conversations with her,” she wrote in the filing.

Attorneys are now reviewing Proud Boys lawyer’s slides before she can show them to the jury

Thursday 12 January 2023 22:19 , Alex Woodward

Zachary Rehl’s attorney Carmen Hernandez was prepared to present a slideshow for her opening arguments, but Judge Timothy Kelly stopped her before she could start.

It turns out nobody from the prosecution reviewed the slides beforehand.

The first slide said “Zachary Rehl is innocent”.

“I don’t know what we’re about to experience here,” the judge said.

“The reason we are delayed is because Ms Hernandez did not follow my order. Not because of the government nitpicking,” he added.

Defense repeatedly plays video of Proud Boy declaring victory and smoking a cigar after breaking into Capitol

Thursday 12 January 2023 21:49 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Defense attorney Roger Roots played a video to jurors of his client Dominic Pezzola smoking a cigar inside the Capitol and saying “this is f****** awesome” after breaking a window with an officer’s riot shield.

He played the video five times.

“Victory smoke in the Capitol, boys,” he says in the video. “This is f****** awesome. I knew we could take this motherf***** over [if we] just tried hard enough.”

Mr Roots argued that his “victory” was not the mob’s disruption of Congress but his success in “taking the building”.

He said he wants jurors to think of it as “the not guilty video”.

Pezzola attorney downplays video of client stealing riot shield from police officer

Thursday 12 January 2023 21:42 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Defense attorney Roger Roots showed jurors footage of his client Dominic Pezzola violently taking a riot shield from an officer on January 6, a shield he would later use to bust out a window at the Capitol.

Mr Pezzola was additionally charged with robbery.

Mr Roots argued that video shows his client admonishing an officer because a protester had been hurt.

“This is what they call a robbery,” he said while showing the video.

Enrique Tarrio’s attorney blames Trump for ‘unleashing the mob’ on January 6 at Proud Boys sedition trial

Thursday 12 January 2023 21:32 , Alex Woodward

A defense attorney for former longtime Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio blamed former president Donald Trump for “unleashing that mob” on 6 January, 2021, as a crowd of his supporters stormed the US Capitol.

Sabino Jauregui – whose client is charged with seditious conspiracy along with four other members of the far-right nationalist gang – said it was Mr Trump who told his supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell,” not Tarrio or members of his group.

“Enrique didn’t say that. He didn’t say anything to anybody on the grounds of the Capitol. He just happens to be the leader of the Proud Boys,” Mr Jauregui said in his opening arguments in US District Court on 12 January.

He said federal prosecutors were unable to place blame for the riot on alleged FBI informants or security failures within the administration and law enforcement and its leadership, and “instead they go for the easy target”.

More from the opening statements for the high-profile defendant here:

Enrique Tarrio’s attorney blames Trump for ‘unleashing the mob’ on January 6

Defense attorneys have condemned the Capitol attack. Dominic Pezzola’s lawyer called it ‘one of the lamest’

Thursday 12 January 2023 21:25 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

In court hearings and documents surrounding the assault on the US Capitol, defense attorneys have largely conceded that January 6 was an embarassment or a vile attack on democracy while asserting that their clients’ actions did not amount to serious crimes or conspiracy against the government.

A defense attorney for Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola – who was filmed breaking a window as a mob breached the building – has claimed that “the entire case is about a six hour delay of Congress.”

Roger Roots said that “the government makes a big deal about this six hour recess.”

“If [the Capitol riot] was an attack, it might have been one of the lamest attacks one could imagine,” he said in his opening arguments. “The attacks carried few weapons other than megaphones ... Imagine an insurrection in which the insurrections were in complete compliance with DC gun laws.”

Mr Pezzola is accused of using a riot shield taken from an officer to break a window. Mr Pezzola appears to have not initially broken it. Mr Roots argued since damage was already done, Mr Pezzola smashing the remainder of it out with his shield “did not cause additional damage.”

“These are not thousand dollar windows,” he said.

Enrique Tarrio’s attorney blames Trump for ‘unleashing the mob'

Thursday 12 January 2023 21:03 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Sabino Jauregui said there is no evidence that his client Enrique Tarrio advocated “storming the Capitol” or “planning to storm the Capitol.”

“You’re not going to see it. All you’re going to see in innuendo,” he said.

Discussing a damning “we did this” message on Telegram that Tarrio posted after the riots, he said it was Tarrio’s reply to a message saying “antifa stormed the Capitol,” the attorney said.

“He was replying and saying ‘we did this,’ as not the Proud Boys, but Trump supporters over all. It’s not that he was celebrating what happened,” he added.

Mr Jauregui also blamed Trump for “unleashing that mob” on January 6 “but he’s not on trial here today”.

Enrique Tarrio’s attorney downplays Proud Boys as a ‘drinking club’

Thursday 12 January 2023 20:57 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Enrique Tarrio’s attorney said that the Proud Boys “are not a racist, sexist, homophobic organisation,” calling them a “drinking club.”

Sabino Jauregui cointed to a gay pride flag in a photo being flown by “gay Proud Boys,” before saying it’s an “all inclusive” group which is also “Western chauvinist.”

He claimed that because the Proud Boys hate political correctness, they try to “out offend” each other, explaining away while their Telegram channels are full of “offensive comments.”

“Enrique was the very public face of the Proud Boys,” he said “That’s why he’s the scape goat. If the government takes down Enrique Tarrio, it takes down the whole Proud Boy organisation. That’s why they added him to this case.”

Prosecutors and defense attorneys have stressed to the jury that the group is not on trial, but Mr Jauregui’s comments appear to downplay the group’s behaviours and well-publicised actions and distance members’ affiliation to a far-right nationalist gang designated a terrorist organisation by the Canadian government.

The group, founded in 2016 by Vice co-founder turned far-right commentator Gavin McInnes, has been accused of using an ironic or self-aware veneer of white male aggression to launder white nationalist, antisemitic and anti-LGBT+ tropes.

Across his platforms, Mr McInnes “carved out an ideological space for frustrated young men to rally around” by arguing for the superiority of white western culture and against white liberal “guilt”, feminism, Islam and LGBT+ people, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Over the last several years, the Proud Boys have emerged as a “fascistic, right-wing political bloc” relying on street-level violence in concert with right-wing media and Republican elected officials, according to SPLC senior research analyst Cassie Miller. Recently, members of the group have harrassed drag queen story-telling events at libraries and amplified “groomer” smears aimed at LGBT+ people.

Tarrio’s defense attorney claims his client is a ‘scapegoat’

Thursday 12 January 2023 20:42 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Enrique Tarrio’s attorney Sabino Jauregui claimed her client is a “scapegoat” for the actions on the ground on January 6

“Scapegoat is a word you’re going to be hearing a lot in this trial ... We definitely have a scapegoat in this case. And that’s my client, Henry Enrique Tarrio,” he said.

Tarrio “had zero communication with the people at the Capitol on January 6” and “was nowhere near the Capitol on January 6,” he said.

He said that prosecutors do not have any evidence that shows Tarrio “planned, orchestrated, incited, did anything for that riot to occur on January 6.”

Defense for Enrique Tarrio will make opening statements after short break

Thursday 12 January 2023 20:24 , Alex Woodward

Defense arguments for Enrique Tarrio, a former chair of the Proud Boys who is the only one of the five men on trial who did not enter the Capitol on January 6, are up next.

Tarrio was arrested in Washington DC two days before the assault; he was wanted by police for burning a Black Lives Matter flag outside a historically Black church during street riots in the city after a “Stop the Steal” rally in December of 2020.

During the arrest, police found Tarrio was carrying two high-capacity magazines, compatible with AR-16 and M4 rifles, in his bag. Both were empty.

A judge ordered him out of the city before the the protests and rallies on 6 January, 2021.

Government informants within the Proud Boys can corroborate defense arguments, attorney claims

Thursday 12 January 2023 20:17 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Defense attorney Nick Smith says government informants who were with the Proud Boys on January 6 can corroborate claims that the march was “just for the cameras” and there was no plan to storm the Capitol.

“You’ll hear them testify that Proud Boys told them to avoid law enforcement,” Mr Smith said.

He claims one informant was at the “big bang” event when protesters first jumped the barricades, and that informant claimed in a text that the Proud Boys did not start the push.

Mr Smith also said the Proud Boys didn’t scrub their Telegram channels to destroy evidence but because they feared that there were informants within the group, which was apparently an accurate assessment, Mr Smith said.Defense attorneys have previously said there were as many as eight informants among the Proud Boys at the time. Earlier this week, Mr Smith also called far-right conspiracy theories that the informants were responsible for the riot “slander.”

“In the media there’s a swirling notion that undercover informants instigated January 6,” he told the court on 11 January. “That’s not our belief … I think it’s slander actually.”

Defense claims Proud Boys plan was to ‘go back’ to Trump’s rally

Thursday 12 January 2023 20:06 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Defense attorney Nick Smith continues his opening statement, arguing that jurors will “see evidence the plan was not to stay at the Capitol, but to go back to the [Trump] rally.”

He then showed a photo of the riot, with client Ethan Nordean circled in green. He said Mr Nordean was “stopping an individual from shoving a police officer,” contrary to prosecutors’ claims.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Mr Nordean – aka “Rufio Panman” – marched in Washington with defendant Joe Biggs before entering the Capitol after a group of Proud Boys broke a window, according to government filings. Two days after the mob’s assault, he posted a picture of a Capitol officer using pepper spray with the caption “honorable oath breakers”.

Defense attorney says government witnesses will corroborate claim that there was no plan on January 6

Thursday 12 January 2023 19:50 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Nick Smith, the attorney for defendant Ethan Nordean, claims that testimony from three government witnesses – all convicted Proud Boys who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy last year – will corroborate claims that the five men on trial did not have a plan on 6 January, 2021.

Jeremy Bertino, who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in October, said that “everything that was supposed to happen that day was a peaceful protest,” according to Mr Smith.

Witness Charles Donohoe also said that the “conspiracy stuff isn’t true,” Mr Smith said. A third witness, John Stewart, also told the government that “it was just a protest, that’s what it was supposed to be, just a protest” and was not a preplanned event, according to Mr Smith.

“The plan was to discuss the plan in person on the ground in DC, not before,” Mr Donohoe reportedly testified.

Mr Smith said that evidence will show that “not a single text or Telegram is about storming the Capitol, jumping barricades … plotting any crime, or using force.”

Defense argues Capitol riot and other ‘complex phenomena’ must have a ‘cause bigger than effect'

Thursday 12 January 2023 19:39 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Nick Smith continues his opening statement, arguing that “complex phenomena” like the Capitol riot “or a revolution” must “have a cause that’s as big as the effect,” building an argument that the events of January 6 weren’t any one person’s fault but the collective energy swept up defendants into the chaos.

“When it comes to complex phenomena like this – we assume like a riot or a revolution – must have a cause that’s as big as the effect,” he said. “We also know from our experience that’s true, in chaotic situations that happen in the moment can have tremendously large effects.”

He argued that the government’s case rests on a logical fallacy: “We hear a rooster crow and then the sun rises. We may think that the rooster’s crowing may have some influence on the sun rising. We know it doesn’t work this way.”

Nordean’s attorney claims government evidence does not support conspiracy charge

Thursday 12 January 2023 19:32 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Attorney Nick Smith said jurors will not see any evidence from federal prosecutors that supports a charge of conspiracy, alleging the prosecution’s evidence is selective and misleading.

The defense so far mirrors other high-profile January 6 cases involving serious charges of conspiracy or other felonies, which have largely relied on arguing that what defendants did was wrong but did not rise to the level of a serious crime, and that the “plot” behind it was nothing more than rhetoric.

Defense for Proud Boys Ethan Nordean begins opening statement calling January 6 a ‘disgrace’ and ‘embarrassment’

Thursday 12 January 2023 19:27 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Nick Smith opened his defense argument for his client Ethan Nordean by calling the events of Janaury 6 “a disgrace”.

“An embarrassment to the country, a historic embarrassment,” he said. “It was a crass spectacle in front of the world.”

Mr Smith said jurors “will not hear from a single defendant in this trial they are proud, today, of [the riot].”

“Like thousands of other protesters that day, you’ll see Ethan Nordean walked into the building, broke nothing, had no weapons, accosted no member of office,” he added.

Defense attorneys prepare to make opening arguments as court returns from lunch break

Thursday 12 January 2023 19:14 , Alex Woodward

Defense attorneys for the five Proud Boys members on trial for seditious conspiracy are preparing their opening arguments. Judge Timothy Kelly has returned to the courtroom and the trial will resume shortly.

The men on trial include former chair Enrique Tarrio as well as Ethan Nordean, Joe Biggs, Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl.

About that ‘burn the city to ash’ comment

Thursday 12 January 2023 18:30 , Alex Woodward

Federal prosecutors have argued that rioters who were not connected with the group served as “tools” for the Proud Boys and their alleged plot, which would not have succeeded without “weaponizing the crowd,” prosecutors wrote in court filings.

In a message on Telegram the day of the attack, one group leader wrote “I want to see thousands of normies burn that city to ash today.”

‘Burn that city to ash’: Why five Proud Boys are on trial two years after January 6

Judge Kelly denies defense attorneys’ request for a mistrial after prosecutors close opening arguments

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:56 , Alex Woodward

Judge Timothy Kelly has denied a request from defense attorneys to declare a mistrial after federal prosecutors closed their opening arguments shortly before 1pm on Thursday.

Zachary Rehl’s attorney Carmen Hernandez claimed that the Justice Depamrtment’s opening statement was “misleading and inflammatory” and presented evidence out of context.

“I don’t think the government did anything to warrant a mistrial, so its denied,” Judge Kelly said.

Proud Boys rallied to ‘take the f****** Capitol’ before Trump’s January 6 speech, prosecutors say

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:50 , Alex Woodward

Members of the far-right nationalist gang the Proud Boys rallied a crowd to “take the f****** Capitol” as a joint session of Congress convened to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election on 6 January, 2021.

In opening arguments in a trial for five members of the group charged with seditious conspiracy for their actions leading up to and during the attack, federal prosecutors showed video taken roughly 20 minutes before then-President Donald Trump addressed his supporters at a nearby rally.

Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough said the group did not intend to listen to the president’s speech; they had always planned to lead a crowd to the Capitol to forcibly stop the transfer of presidential power.

“They hoped the ‘normies’ – that is, the civilians – would burn the city to ash,” he told jurors on 12 January.

Our breaking report from today’s opening arguments:

Proud Boys rallied to ‘take the f****** Capitol’ before Trump’s speech, trial hears

‘Let’s f****** do it’: Proud Boys rallied to ‘take the f****** Capitol’ before Trump started rally speech

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:22 , Alex Woodward

Jurors were shown video of defendant Ethan Nordean taken at 11.41am on 6 January, 2021, according to prosecutors.

Someone can be heard saying “Ethan, let’s f****** do it”. Moments later, at 11.47am, he tells the crowd “take the f****** Capitol”.

Donald Trump began his speech to a rally crowd at 11.57am.

Jurors hear recording of Tarrio discussing plans to ‘storm the Capitol'

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:11 , Alex Woodward

Prosecutors played audio of now-former Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio saying “I didn’t hear this until now. You want to storm the Capitol.”

“In some situations in life you have to guess if people mean what they say,” Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough said. “At other times, people do exactly what they say they’re going to do. In this trial, you won’t have to guess.”

Prosecutors: One of Tarrio’s recruits doubted police would stop them on January 6

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:06 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

One of Enrique Tarrio’s so-called “Ministry of Self Defence” recruits openly pondered on 4 January what the police would do if they stormed the Capitol, two days before the attack.

“What would they do if 1 million patriots stormed and took the [Capitol] building. Shoot into the crowd? I think not,” the recruit’s text said, according to Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough.

Prosecutors: Enrique Tarrio’s arrest for BLM flag burning ‘enraged’ defendants

Thursday 12 January 2023 17:03 , Alex Woodward

Two days before the January 6 insurrection, now-former Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio was arrested by Washington DC police moments after stepping off a plane from Miami.

He was wanted by police after he admitted to tearing down and burning a Black Lives Matter flag outside a historically Black church in the nation’s capital during December riots connected to a protest supporting Donald Trump’s bogus claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

“The arrest of Enrique Tarrio enraged these defendants,” according to Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough.

His arrest, law enforcement actions in the wake of November and December protests and riots, and Trump’s “be wild” tweet motivated Proud Boys into action for January 6, according to prosecutors.

“The time for standing back and standing by was over,” Mr McCullough added. “It was time to mobilise.”

The purpose of returning to the nation’s capitol after “Stop the Steal” rallies “was clear,” he added.

“They were coming to stop Congress rom certifying the election from Joe Biden,” Mr McCullough said. “As Enrique Tarrio explained in his post on 1 January, ‘lets bring in the new year with one word in mind. Revolt.’”

Proud Boys called for ‘war’ after 2020 election, prosecutors say

Thursday 12 January 2023 16:56 , Alex Woodward

Federal prosecutors have amassed dozens of messages from members of the Proud Boys as evidence in their seditious conspiracy trial, including several social media posts and messages calling for “war” and rallying members to “kill them all” in the wake of the 2020 presidential eleciton.

Justice Department: So-called ‘lords of war’ worked to stop transfer of presidential power

Thursday 12 January 2023 16:50 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough – in a reference to Enrique Tarrio calling his lieutenants “lords of war” –said that “these lords of war joined together to stop the transfer of presidential power”.

Prosecutors played video of defendant Joe Biggs saying “we’re probably gonna have a civil war now.”

The next day, he posted “it’s time for f***ing war if they steal this s***”.

Trump’s remarks to ‘stand back and stand by’ drew ‘battle lines'

Thursday 12 January 2023 16:47 , Alex Woodward

When Donald Trump refused to condemn the Proud Boys during a presidential debate in September of 2020, “in that moment ... battle lines were drawn,” according to Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough.

“You heard President Trump say ‘somebody has to do something about antifa.’ In that moment, battle lines were drawn,” said Mr McCullough, adding that the moment signalled to members that “Trump was for the Proud Boys and Biden was for antifa.”

Here’s our report from the immediate aftermath of that moment:

Trump's comments 'empower' Proud Boys, as FBI warns election 'flashpoint' for far-right violence

Federal prosecutor says Proud Boys ‘took aim at heart of democracy'

Thursday 12 January 2023 16:45 , Alex Woodward and Graig Graziosi

In opening remarks, Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough said members of the Proud Boys “took aim at the heart of our democracy” on January 6, as members breached the halls of Congress after months of discussing an alleged attack.

“They did not stand back. They did not stand by,” he said, referencing Donald Trump’s remarks to the group in a presidential debate in September of 2020.

“They mobilised,” he said.

“The transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden was stopped at the hand of these defendants,” Mr McCullough added. “And before they realised how much trouble they were in, they celebrated their group’s accomplishments.“

He added that former leader Enrique Tarrio told members “make no mistake, we did this” as federal prosecutors previewed various text messages used as evidence to prosecute the defendants.

Judge and jury return to the courtroom

Thursday 12 January 2023 16:23 , Alex Woodward

US District Judge Timothy Kelly and jurors have returned to the courtroom to begin opening arguments.

Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough will deliver arguments on behalf of the government’s case against the five Proud Boys on trial for seditious conspiracy.

Photos: Maps of the Capitol and police signage brought into federal court for Proud Boys trial

Thursday 12 January 2023 15:50 , Alex Woodward

A map of the US Capitol and and signage used to keep people off the grounds were photographed being carried into federal court on Thursday as prosecutors prepared to deliver opening statements in the seditious conspiracy trial against five members of the far-right nationalist gang the Proud Boys.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Jury has entered courtroom and opening arguments from federal prosecutors to begin shortly

Thursday 12 January 2023 15:34 , Alex Woodward

Jurors have been sworn in after entering US District Court before opening arguments from prosecutors with the US Department of Justice.

“I know this is a process that has taken some time and involved a lot of waiting around for you all,” Judge Timothy Kelly told the jury.

The Independent’s Graig Graziosi is in Washington DC for the proceedings.

The problems with the Proud Boys lawyers, (briefly) explained

Thursday 12 January 2023 14:51 , Alex Woodward

Among the issues delaying opening arguments in the high-profile Proud Boys trial involves lawyers for defendant Joseph Biggs.

One of his attorneys, Dan Hull, had previously represented Enrique Tarrio in his interactions with the House select committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol. He also was set to represent another Proud Boy, Jeremy Bertino, who pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in October.

Now, Bertino is expected to be a key government witness in this trial.

Another lawyer for Mr Biggs, Norm Pattis, had previously defended conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in a defamation case brought by parents of victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.

He was effectively barred from this trial after he was suspended from practising law in his home state for six months.

Mr Pattis previously called his client’s case a “righteous fight” when he joined in June. Justice Department attorneys have tried to keep him out of the Proud Boys trial.

“Defendant Biggs has a right to choose his counsel, but that right is not unbounded,” attorneys for the Justice Department wrote in a filing on 9 January. “Just as a defendant has no Sixth Amendment right to ‘choose’ a counsel he cannot afford, a defendant has no right to ‘choose’ a counsel that does not have a license to practice law.”

Mr Pattis had offered to withdraw from the case but Judge Timothy Kelly has paused the idea while conflicts of interest issues are sorted out with Mr Biggs’s other attorney.

Not even a ‘zombie apocalypse’ will stop Proud Boys from moving forward with trial

Thursday 12 January 2023 14:30 , Alex Woodward

Before opening arguments have started, the Proud Boys trial has been mired in issues surrounding the jury selection, admissable evidence, and conflicts and other problems with defense attorneys, who include an attorney for Alex Jones who was suspended from practicising law in his home state, complicating the trial defense.

An attorney for Ethan Nordean, one of five Proud Boys on trial for seditious conspiracy charges related to the January 6 insurrection, wrote in a filing that Mr Nordean “wants the court to clearly understand his position: he has not moved, nor will he move, for a trial continuance.”

“Nordean has been detained pretrial for nearly two years, since April 2021,” he added in the filing on 10 January. “There is no circumstance that would prompt Nordean to move for, or consent to, a trial continuance, up to and including a zombie apocalypse.”

Rioter who assaulted cops at Capitol gets five years in prison

Thursday 12 January 2023 14:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

A Tennessee man who authorities say came to Washington ahead of the 6 January 2021 riot prepared for violence in a car full of weapons and assaulted officers who were trying to defend the Capitol was sentenced in December to more than five years behind bars.

Ronald Sandlin, 35, of Millington, Tennessee, pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers.

Two other men were separately each sentenced to four years in prison for their actions connected to the riot.

Rioter who assaulted cops at Capitol gets 5 years in prison

Who are the Proud Boys?

Thursday 12 January 2023 13:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

The violent mob of Donald Trump supporters who stormed the US Capitol building on 6 January in a bid to stop Congress from certifying Democrat Joe Biden’s election win included members of a number of far-right fringe groups, notably QAnon and the Proud Boys.

The outgoing president was explicitly invited to condemn both collectives during the election campaign and declined to so, apparently reluctant to risk even the votes of dangerous extremists.

The former is a cult-like group that believes a covert operative is working at the heart of government to root out Satanic pedophiles running the Democratic Party, a mutation of the earlier “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory, and is a relatively recent phenomenon but the latter is somewhat more established.

Read more here.

Who are the Proud Boys, the hate group Trump told to ‘stand by’?

Secret Service flagged White House visit by Proud Boys leader

Thursday 12 January 2023 12:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Transcripts of depositions released by the House January 6 select committee show the Secret Service notified White House leaders after Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was admitted onto the 18-acre complex for a tour.

Mr Tarrio, who is currently on trial for seditious conspiracy related to his group’s alleged role in the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814, attended a tour of the executive mansion on 12 December 2020, the same day he vandalised a Black Lives Matter sign by setting it ablaze after stealing it from a Black church.

At the time, his status as chairman of the pro-Trump extremist group was widely known, and a House January 6 committee transcript of an interview with ex-White House deputy chief of staff Tony Ornato shows his entry onto the White House grounds was noted and relayed to agents on then-president Donald Trump’s protective detail by the Secret Service Protective Intelligence Division.

Andrew Feinberg has more.

Secret Service flagged White House visit by Proud Boys leader ahead of Jan 6

Defence lawyer cries juror discrimination at Proud Boys trial

Thursday 12 January 2023 11:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

A defence lawyer for one of the Proud Boys members is crying discrimination, claiming that several potential jurors at the trial were rejected by prosecutors because they were white and Republican.

Nicholas Smith, attorney for Ethan Nordean — who is facing more than a dozen charges — challenged the government’s use of peremptory challenges in the jury selection process.

The lawyer argued that the prosecution’s decision to cut multiple “white, male Republican[s],” as well as a Roman Catholic priest, from the panel amounted to discrimination, according to Law and Crime.

“None of these jurors expressed any sympathy for rioters or Donald Trump,” Mr Smith said, adding: “There is no possible explanation that I can think of for cutting these jurors except for prohibited characteristics.”

US district judge Timothy Kelly ruled that removing the priest from the pool wasn’t discrimination since it was done because of a concern about his professional experience and the claims about white or male jurors didn’t hold weight as both demographic groups are still represented on the panel.

Prosecutors allowed to use Trump’s ‘stand back and stand by’ remark

Thursday 12 January 2023 10:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that prosecutors can use video of former president Donald Trump telling the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” in the trial against five members of the far-right group.

District judge Timothy Kelly said that the former president’s comments showed “an additional motive to advocate for Mr Trump (and) engage in the charged conspiracy” to keep him in power, according to CNN.

Earlier in 2020 during a presidential debate, Mr Trump was asked if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups. Then Democratic candidate Joe Biden mentioned the Proud Boys.

“Proud Boys – stand back and stand by,” Mr Trump responded.

Jury finalised after 10 days to hear sedition trial

Thursday 12 January 2023 09:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

A jury has been chosen for the seditious conspiracy trial of former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four other members of the far-right group charged with plotting to stop the transfer of presidential power.

Jury selection took 10 days of questioning as many potential jurors expressed negative views about the Proud Boys. The panel ultimately chosen Monday includes seven men and nine women, WUSA-TV reported.

Jurors are expected to hear attorneys’ opening statements in Washington’s federal court after the panel is sworn in.

Read more here.

Jury chosen to hear Proud Boys Jan. 6 sedition trial

Why five Proud Boys are on trial two years after January 6

Thursday 12 January 2023 08:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Two days before the attack on the US Capitol, the now-former chairman of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys gang was arrested in Washington DC moments after stepping off a plane from Miami.

Enrique Tarrio was wanted by police after he admitted to tearing down and burning a Black Lives Matter flag outside a historically Black church in the nation’s capital during December riots connected to a protest supporting Donald Trump’s bogus claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him.

On 6 January 2021, Tarrio watched the insurrection unfold from a hotel in Baltimore. Two years later, he is among five members of the self-described “Western chauvinist” gang charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the mob’s assault.

After jurors found two members of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers guilty of seditious conspiracy against the government in November, federal prosecutors are now hoping to convict another high-profile group of rioters connected to the January 6 assault.

Alex Woodward reports.

‘Burn that city to ash’: Why five Proud Boys are on trial two years after January 6

Five Proud Boys members to go on trial today

Thursday 12 January 2023 07:02 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Five members of the far-right nationalist Proud Boys group charged with seditious conspiracy will go on trial today.

The defendants are former group leader Enrique Tarrio, members Ethan “Rufio Panman” Nordean, Joe Biggs, Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl.

The US justice department has argued that the men were among the first rioters to break past barriers on the Capitol grounds before 1pm.

In addition to seditious conspiracy related to the , they have been charged with eight other crimes including obstructing law enforcement and destruction of government property.

The men face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Thursday 12 January 2023 06:00 , Alisha Rahaman Sarkar

Welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of the trial of five members of the far-right group Proud Boys.