Proud Boys leadership charged with seditious conspiracy in Capitol riot plot as House hearings loom

Enrique Tarrio and four others involved with far-right gang face charges of sedition in growing Justice Department investigation

Trump brags about the size of his rally on January 6

The former longtime leader of the Proud Boys far-right nationalist gang and four others involved with the group were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of seditious conspiracy in connection with the attack on the US Capitol last January.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other men – Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola – previously were charged with conspiring to obstruct the certification of Joe Biden’s presidency when a pro-Trump mob stormed the halls of Congress during a joint session on 6 January, 2021.

The amended 10-count indictment was unsealed in US District Court on 6 June, adding a more-serious charge of sedition, alleging that the men knowingly conspired to use force to oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power. It also adds another charge of conspiracy to prevent an officer from discharging any duties. They pleaded not guilty to charges in earlier indictments.

All defendants face a total of nine charges, while Mr Pezzola faces an additional robbery charge. They are scheduled to appear in court on 9 June.

In January, one year after the attack, federal prosecutors targeted members of the far-right so-called militia group the Oath Keepers with the historically rare charge of sedition; in the following months, at least three defendants have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with the US Department of Justice.

An additional set of sedition charges suggests the Justice Department’s ongoing investigations into the Capitol attacks – for which dozens of people have been arrested and charged – is widening, while a House committee investigating the attack and the Trump administration’s response is set to begin public hearings this week.

Though Mr Tarrio was not in Washington DC that day, he is alleged to have coordinated the actions of Proud Boys members, who conspired “to prevent, hinder and delay” the certification of the electoral college vote in Congress and “to oppose by force the authority of the government of the United States”, according to prosecutors.

The indictment includes messages shared among members beginning in December of 2020 in which they allegedly plotted their response to the presidential election and protest in Washington DC, including travel plans, positioning, and reminders to delete their messages. A timeline constructed by prosecutors also includes transcriptions of members’ videos from the day of the attack along with the messages they allegedly shared.

On the day of the attack, the defendants “directed, mobilised, and led members of the crowd onto the Capitol grounds and into the Capitol”, while taking credit for the violence and chaos on social media and in message threads with other members.

“We did this,” Mr Tarrio wrote in a Telegram group chat.

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