“Tarrio’s sentence closes a significant chapter in the investigation of the Jan. 6 attack. His 22-year sentence is likely to remain the lengthiest for anyone charged in connection with the attack itself — a mark that exceeds the 18-year sentences handed down to Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and Tarrio’s ally Ethan Nordean.
Prosecutors portrayed Tarrio as a uniquely influential figure who singularly organized a group of hardened Proud Boys members and aimed them at the Capitol on Jan. 6. They said his sentence had to serve as a deterrent to anyone who might target America’s system of government in the future.
“He was on a tier of his own,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Conor Mulroe. “This was a calculated act of terrorism.””
“Tarrio also apologized to police officers, lawmakers and D.C. residents for the carnage of Jan. 6.
“I had the choice multiple times to calm things out and I didn’t. I persisted when I should have calmed,” he said.”
““That day broke our tradition of peacefully transferring power,” said U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Kelly as he delivered Biggs’ sentence. “The mob brought an entire branch of government to heel.””
“Kelly, an appointee of Donald Trump, agreed with prosecutors that the crimes committed by Biggs and Rehl amounted to an act of terrorism aimed at influencing the government. In Jan. 6 cases, that distinction had until Thursday been applied only to members of the Oath Keepers who were similarly convicted of seditious conspiracy or obstruction.
Kelly spoke at length about his decision to apply the terrorism label and how the Jan. 6 attack compared to other, more stereotypical acts of terrorism that involve mass casualties or bombings.
“While blowing up a building in some city somewhere is a very bad act, the nature of the constitutional moment we were in that day is something that is so sensitive that it deserves a significant sentence,” Kelly said.
The judge, however, did not use the terrorism designation to sharply increase his sentences for Biggs and Rehl. Doing so, he said, would result in an overly harsh punishment because the terrorism enhancement is primarily geared to actions with an “intent to kill” — which he did not attribute to Biggs or Rehl.
The sentences are an important marker in the fraught aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack. Prosecutors, who had asked for a 33-year sentence for Biggs and 30 years for Rehl, said they and their co-conspirators were the driving force behind the violence that unfolded that day, facilitating breaches at multiple police lines and helping the crowd advance into the building itself. A jury convicted the five Proud Boys of multiple conspiracies in June, after a four-month trial that recounted their actions in painstaking detail.
Prosecutors urged Kelly to severely punish Biggs and Rehl as a way to deter others who might consider similar actions in the future aimed at disrupting the government.”
“Prosecutors say the group amassed a force of 200 hand-selected Proud Boys and marched them to the Capitol, where many of them skirmished with police or removed barriers intended to keep the crowd at bay. Nordean and Biggs were convicted of dismantling a black metal fence that was one of police’s last obstacles before the crowd reached the building.”
“When Trump told supporters on Dec. 19, 2020, to amass in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, Tarrio and the Proud Boys leaders quickly responded and began assembling a new chapter that they described as a group of more disciplined and obedient men who would follow their orders. That group, which they dubbed the “Ministry of Self-Defense,” became the core of the group that descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6.”
“During Rehl’s sentencing, Pattis more squarely put the blame for the riot on Trump, saying many in the crowd were simply following his instructions and had no reason to doubt their commander in chief. Pattis mused that it seemed unfair for Rehl to be charged with seditious conspiracy while Trump was not.”
“the notion that Biden or Garland was somehow determined to prosecute Trump relies on a serious distortion of the public record. Indeed, that record vexed some observers, including me, who repeatedly expressed frustration over how the two men seemed to be going out of their way for most of the first two years of the administration to avoid investigating and potentially prosecuting Trump.
The best explanation at the moment — the one that most neatly fits the available facts and a robust body of credible reporting — is that the work of the Jan. 6 select committee spurred the Justice Department to action.
The committee’s investigation uncovered new and important information that was impossible to ignore, and their hearings last summer generated intense and legitimate political and public pressure on DOJ and Garland. Ultimately, it appears that they no longer had a choice but to shift course”
“As the hearings unfolded, there was testimony from former Attorney General Bill Barr, Trump 2020 campaign manager Bill Stepien and other Trump administration officials and campaign advisers indicating that Trump knew he had lost the 2020 election even as he began his monthslong campaign to overturn the results. There was firsthand testimony about the legally baseless effort to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to throw the election to Trump that featured White House lawyers and Pence advisers. There was also a hearing, among others, devoted to Trump’s personal efforts to pressure — or threaten — state officials to swing their election results to him.
Given the one-sided nature of the committee’s presentation, there were reasons to question whether all of the testimony provided the full picture of the underlying events. Still, it quickly became apparent that the committee had exposed some glaring shortcomings at the Justice Department. A series of stories last summer in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported that senior officials at the Justice Department were not aware of critical evidence that the committee had obtained, and in fact had been trying to avoid directly confronting Trump and his potential criminal liability. Meanwhile, some of us were complaining (again) that the department seemed to be falling short of its duty to the country, and members of the media and the public began asking much harder questions about the department’s actions — or lack thereof.”
“The Enforcement Acts, one of which was known also as the Ku Klux Klan Act, given its prime target, criminalized widespread attempts by former Confederates to deny Black Southerners their right to vote, to have their votes counted and hold office — rights they enjoyed under the Reconstruction Act of 1867, the 14th Amendment and soon, the 15th Amendment. Coming at a time when American democracy teetered on the edge, these laws gave teeth to the federal government’s insistence that no eligible voter could be denied the right to vote and have his vote counted. (At the time, only men could exercise the franchise.) The laws were a direct response to Southern Democrats’ efforts to abrogate the practical effects of the Civil War and nullify Black political participation and representation.
Today, American democracy stands once again at a crossroads. The refusal of many Republican officeholders to accept the outcome of a free and fair election, and Trump’s outright appeal to fraud and violence in an effort to overturn that election, are precisely the kinds of antidemocratic practices the Enforcement Acts were intended to criminalize and punish.”
“In the days to come, Trumps’ defenders may claim that the 1870 Enforcement Act is antiquated and obsolete or, as the National Review argued, irrelevant to the case in hand.
In fact, as the Washington Post recently documented, while the act was precipitated by Klan violence in the 1860s, throughout the 20th century and even in more recent times, “Section 241 has also been used to prosecute a wider range of election subversion, including threatening or intimidating voters, impersonating voters, destroying ballots and preventing the official count of ballots.” That includes its use to prosecute white people who terrorized civil rights volunteers during the 1964 Freedom Summer in Mississippi and in cases involving election interference in states like Oklahoma, Tennessee and Kentucky. In other words, it is hardly what legal observers call a “strange law,” or a law still on the books but no longer relevant or enforceable.
Moreover, the acts of which Trump stands accused of committing are precisely what the Enforcement Act was intended to combat. Nullifying the votes of citizens. Fraudulently submitting fake elector slates. Attempting to intimidate state officials into falsifying returns. Bullying a vice president into discarding the official election count. And yes, inciting violence in the furtherance of overturning a free and fair election.
Our system presumes that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty. It is now incumbent upon the Department of Justice to make its case. But the shameful events of late 2020 and early 2021 only reinforce the lasting relevance and importance of the 1870 Enforcement Act, a law constructed to meet challenges that, a century and a half later, still hang over America’s fragile democracy.”
“At times, GOP lawmakers insist they’re uninterested in relitigating an attack that is political poison for the party outside of deep-red areas. But at other times, some Republicans have stoked narratives that falsely pin blame for the attack on police, Democrats or far-left agitators — or downplay the violence at the Capitol. The latter approach has seen a noticeable uptick of late.
And it’s not just far-right conservatives who fall in that group — some House GOP leaders and key committee chiefs have shown they’re willing to flirt with the fringe without an outright embrace. Speaker Kevin McCarthy has shared security video of that day with far-right media figures who have minimized or fed inaccurate portrayals of the attack.
Yet they’re also batting down some of those same false conspiracy theories and preparing to focus on at least one area of bipartisan concern: Capitol security vulnerabilities, many of which remain unresolved since the attack. Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who faced scrutiny from the Jan. 6 select committee for a Capitol complex tour he gave on Jan. 5, 2021, is warning allies against automatically accepting certain claims.”
“As part of the case against Rhodes, prosecutors emphasized that the Oath Keepers repeatedly urged the blocking of the election certification, brought small arms to the DC area, and planned to defend Trump’s election claims with violence if necessary. Rhodes’s defense has said the Oath Keepers were only in DC to protect prominent Trump supporters attending the “Stop the Steal” rally.”
“Thus far, multiple members of the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys have been convicted of seditious conspiracy, and will face their respective sentencings later this year. So far, courts have sentenced more than 500 people involved in the insurrection, and the longest sentence, of 14 years, had previously gone to a person who attacked police officers with pepper spray and a chair.”
“A Jan. 6 defendant wanted on misdemeanor charges opened fire at sheriff’s deputies..as they checked on him ahead of his expected arrest, leading to a lengthy standoff”https://www.politico.com/news/2023/04/20/jan-6-defendant-fired-on-deputies-00093158
” “President Trump was wrong,” Pence said during remarks at the annual white-tie Gridiron Dinner attended by politicians and journalists. “I had no right to overturn the election. And his reckless words endangered my family and everyone at the Capitol that day, and I know history will hold Donald Trump accountable.””
“Four more members of the Oath Keepers were convicted..of conspiracy to obstruct Congress’ Jan. 6 proceedings, bringing the number of members of the group found guilty by juries of felonies related to the Capitol attack to more than a dozen.”
“The four were also found guilty of several other charges they faced, including destruction of government property.
The convictions add to a growing roster of Oath Keepers who are facing lengthy prison terms for their role in the events on Jan. 6. Stewart Rhodes, the group’s national leader was convicted in November of seditious conspiracy, along with Kelly Meggs — husband of Connie Meggs. In a second trial, four other Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy”
“A top lieutenant of the Proud Boys’ chairman, Enrique Tarrio, described on Wednesday a growing desperation among the group’s leaders as Jan. 6, 2021, approached and then-President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results sputtered.
That’s when the group’s thoughts turned to “all-out revolution,” according to Jeremy Bertino, the Justice Department’s star witness in the seditious conspiracy trial of Tarrio and four other Proud Boys leaders, who are charged with orchestrating a violent attempt to derail the transfer of power from Trump to Joe Biden.
Bertino, who pleaded guilty to his own seditious conspiracy charge last year, gave jurors an insider’s view of the Proud Boys’ leadership as Jan. 6 approached and the group became increasingly convinced that the Biden presidency posed an existential threat. Those views, prodded along at times by Trump’s own efforts to subvert his defeat, intensified after Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4, 2021, upon arriving in Washington.
Now, the group’s leaders — Tarrio and Joe Biggs of Florida, Ethan Nordean of Seattle, Zachary Rehl of Philadelphia and Dominic Pezzola of New York — are facing the gravest charges to emerge from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”
““I thought I was watching history,” Bertino recalled. “I thought it was historical. I thought it was a revolution starting.”
When one member of the group informed others that then-Vice President Mike Pence had resisted Trump’s entreaties to overturn the election on his own, Bertino assured them: “Don’t worry, boys. America’s taking care of it right now.”
Bertino’s jubilance turned into fury after Trump told rioters to go home and law enforcement cleared the Capitol.
“We failed,” he told other Proud Boys in various Telegram chats, after Congress had returned to continue certifying Biden’s victory. He lamented that the rioters caused mayhem simply to “take selfies in Pelosi’s office.”
That sentiment continued into Jan. 7.”
“Bertino also clarified an odd text to Tarrio that read “They need to get peloton.” It was an autocorrect for Pelosi, Bertino said.
“She was the target, as far as the one who had been pushing the information [about the election],” Bertino recalled thinking. “She was the talking head of the opposition. And they needed to remove her from power.””