In the Capitol Attack, the proud boys were charged with sedition.
Five members of the far-right group, including Enrique Tarrio, the group's former leader, were charged with seditious conspiracy for their roles in the attack on January 6.
Enrique Tarrio, the former leader of the far-right group Proud Boys, and four other members of the group were charged with seditious conspiracy on Monday for their roles in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. These are some of the most serious criminal charges to come out of the Justice Department's wide-ranging investigation of the attack.
The sedition charges were made public in Federal District Court in Washington in an updated indictment. In a previous indictment filed in March, the men were already accused of working together to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election. This happened during a joint session of Congress on January 6, 2021.
With the new indictment, a far-right group was charged with seditious conspiracy for the second time in connection with the attack on January 6. Stewart Rhodes, who started the far-right Oath Keepers militia and was its leader, was arrested in January and charged with the same crime as 10 other people.
The charge of seditious conspiracy is hard to prove and has both legal and political implications. Prosecutors must show that at least two people agreed to use force to overthrow the government or delay the execution of a U.S. law. It can get you as much as 20 years in prison.
It wasn't clear right away what led to the new charges, but the indictment showed how important the Proud Boys were in trying to stop President Donald J. Trump from losing and "oppose the legal transfer of presidential power by force" by storming the Capitol.
Two people who know what the House committee is planning said on Monday that the group and what it did around the Capitol will be a big part of the story they put together about the attack and Mr. Trump's attempts to change the election results.
When the committee holds the first of a series of public hearings this month on Thursday evening, two people said, it plans to show live testimony from Nick Quested, a British documentary filmmaker who had permission to film the group during the riot, and from Caroline Edwards, a Capitol Police officer who was hurt by a rioter who had just been talking to one of the Proud Boys moments before the riot.
During the time after the election, Mr. Quested spent a lot of time filming members of the Proud Boys, including Mr. Tarrio. The committee thinks it's likely that he was there when they planned for Jan. 6. Mr. Quested went with the Proud Boys to pro-Trump rallies in Washington, D.C., in November and December 2020. He was with members of the group on January 6, when some of them played a key role in breaking into the Capitol.
Mr. Quested was also there with a camera crew the day before the attack, when Mr. Tarrio met with a small group of pro-Trump activists, including Mr. Rhodes of the Oath Keepers, in an underground parking garage near the Capitol. Mr. Quested and his crew were with Mr. Tarrio in Baltimore at the end of the day on January 6, filming him as he reacted in real time to news about the riot.
Ms. Edwards, a respected Capitol Police officer, is thought to have been the first person hurt in the attack. During the attack, she got a concussion.
Other officers in the building remember hearing Officer Edwards call for help over the radio. This was one of the first signs that day that the violence from the crowd was starting to get too much for the police to handle. Officer Edwards continued to faint for months after the attack. It was thought that her injuries were to blame.
On Monday, Ms. Edwards did not answer a request for a comment. In December, she sent an email to The New York Times saying, "Capitol Police officers have had a very tough year, but I've seen more resilience in the department than I ever thought possible."
The updated indictment didn't include many new facts. Instead, it mostly just repeated stories from earlier charging documents. One of them was about how one of the people charged with seditious conspiracy, Joseph Biggs, had a short conversation with a man in the crowd just before the violence broke out. The man then walked alone to a barricade outside the Capitol and confronted the police.
This man, Ryan Samsel, has been charged with attacking officers at the barricade, which many people think was the turning point of the riot. Officer Edwards was attacked by this man on video, which led to the charges. Mr. Biggs has said that he did not provoke Mr. Samsel.
In the weeks since Mr. Tarrio's arrest and the last indictment against him and his co-defendants, Mr. Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, and Dominic Pezzola, there have been a number of events that could have helped investigators learn more about how the Proud Boys planned for and moved around on Jan. 6th.
Charles Donohoe, another Proud Boy lieutenant who was charged with the men in the same case, pleaded guilty in April and is helping the government investigate the group.
At the same time that Mr. Tarrio was arrested, federal investigators also searched the homes of three other high-ranking Proud Boys who were unindicted co-conspirators in the case. They also took the phones from those homes. But none of the men, Jeremy Bertino, Aaron Wolkind, or John C. Stewart, have been charged.
When Mr. Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, and 10 of his subordinates were charged with seditious conspiracy in January, prosecutors said they were part of a plan to stop the legal transfer of presidential power by force. They did this by sending men into the Capitol on Jan. 6 and setting up a heavily armed "quick reaction force" outside of Washington that was ready to rush to the aid of their fellow Oath Keepers inside the building.
To prove a charge of seditious conspiracy, prosecutors must show that force was used to either overthrow the government or stop federal law from being carried out.
Mr. Tarrio, on the other hand, was not in Washington on January 6 like Mr. Rhodes. A local judge had told him to leave the city two days before, after he was charged with burning a Black Lives Matter banner at a church during a violent spree that followed another pro-Trump rally in December.
Federal prosecutors have said that even though Mr. Tarrio was not accused of "physically taking part in the breach of the Capitol," he "led the advance planning and stayed in touch with other Proud Boys" during the storming of the building.
For example, prosecutors have said that Mr. Tarrio told members of the group before the attack to leave their usual black-and-yellow polo shirts at home and stay "incognito" when they arrived in Washington on Jan. 6. Prosecutors say that Mr. Tarrio also helped set up a "command and control structure" in a private Telegram group chat called "Ministry of Self Defense."
As the Capitol riot was happening, Mr. Tarrio seemed to take credit for what the Proud Boys were doing. At one point, he wrote on the Telegram group chat, "We did this."
Lawyers for Mr. Tarrio and the other men have said over and over that there is no proof that they planned to storm the Capitol ahead of time. The lawyers said that the Proud Boys just wanted to protect themselves from leftist activists with whom they had fought at other events in Washington. This is why they set up the group chat and took other steps, like buying protective gear.
Still, prosecutors say that one of Mr. Tarrio's girlfriends gave him a document called "1776 Returns" one week before the attack on the Capitol. This document had a detailed plan to watch and storm government buildings near the Capitol on January 6, but not the Capitol itself. People who know the document say that the girlfriend sent Mr. Tarrio texts comparing the plans in the document to the storming of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, which helped start the Russian Revolution in 1917.
In the latest indictment, prosecutors pointed to what seems to be a newly found text exchange between Mr. Tarrio and Mr. Bertino from the evening of Jan. 6, after the attack on the Capitol was over. Mr. Bertino, a well-known Proud Boy from North Carolina, had been stabbed at a pro-Trump rally in December. Like Mr. Tarrio, he was not in Washington on Jan. 6.