Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio was convicted on Thursday of orchestrating a plot for members of his far-right extremist group to attack the U.S. Capitol in a desperate bid to keep Donald Trump in power after the Republican lost the 2020 presidential election.
A jury in Washington, DC, found Tarrio guilty of seditious conspiracy after hearing from dozens of witnesses over more than three months in one of the most serious cases brought in the stunning attack that unfolded on 6 January 2021, as the world watched on live TV.
It’s a significant milestone for the Justice Department, which has now secured seditious conspiracy convictions against the leaders of two major extremist groups prosecutors say were intent on keeping Democrat Joe Biden out of the White House at all costs. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Tarrio was a top target of what has become the largest Justice Department investigation in American history. He led the neo-fascist group - known for street fights with left-wing activists - when Trump infamously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during his first debate with Biden.
Tarrio wasn’t in Washington on 6 January because he had been arrested two days earlier in a separate case and ordered out of the capital city. But prosecutors said he organized and directed the attack by Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol that day.
Prosecutors told jurors the group viewed itself as “Trump’s army” and was prepared for “all-out war” to stop Biden from becoming president.
The Proud Boys were “lined up behind Donald Trump and willing to commit violence on his behalf,” prosecutor Conor Mulroe said in his closing argument.
The backbone of the government’s case was hundreds of messages exchanged by Proud Boys in the days leading up to 6 January that show the far-right extremist group peddling Trump’s false claims of a stolen election and trading fears over what would happen when Biden took office.
Our journalists are working on this story and will update it as soon as more information becomes available.