“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.””
“Occupying the office without credibility will not lead to obedience. Chinese officials are very skilled at disobeying without getting caught. There is a Chinese saying, “There are policies from the top, and there are countermeasures at the bottom.” They have various ways to handle it. When others do not have faith in you, when you have no credibility and receive no acceptance, you are in big trouble. Your orders might not be carried out at all. Others might have ways to have your orders vanish into thin air.”
“The high-tech surveillance Xi Jinping employs to control society does lead to the belief that it is increasingly difficult, even impossible, to overthrow the regime using traditional tactics. But the problem is that high tech is not only accessible to Xi Jinping. The masses can master it, too. Resisters can also make use of these high tech means. Both sides enjoy equal opportunities. The key is whether there is enough confidence to take actions to overthrow the Communist Party. But of course Cai Xia and some other friends don’t always share the same opinions. They are anti-Xi, but not anti-communism. They oppose Xi Jinping, but not the Communist Party. They think such a stance can be accepted by more people. But I believe we not only need to oppose Xi Jinping, but also the Communist Party. If we could get rid of Xi Jinping, the Communist Party won’t last long either, the end will be near. At least, when it comes to that, the Communist Party might reform itself, thus creating an opportunity for democracy. I am still relatively optimistic. I don’t believe Xi Jinping could control everything. Especially when no one trusts you and you still need people to manage the surveillance system, would they be loyal to you? So, I think there are still opportunities.”
“The past 20-some years have proved that an open tyranny is even better at deceiving. During these 20-some years, major Western businesses have invested in China and painted a pretty picture of China for the outside world. A lot of the American people have come to believe it, thus letting down their guard against China. A lot of academics are also advocating for China. China’s infiltration of the U.S. has led to problems in the health of the American system. Now Americans are starting to realize how serious the infiltration is. It is close to taking control of our regime, our thinking. This situation, this is exactly the result of Deng Xiaoping’s open tyranny.
On the contrary, as Xi Jinping closes up the country, more and more people might be able to see the true face of the authoritarian regime, the danger it poses to the U.S. and its neighboring countries. Also, without the support of the people, it might grow increasingly weak, and it’s paradoxically not as dangerous as that of the open society under Deng Xiaoping. Therefore right now is the best opportunity for the people to confront the Communist Party.”
“I believe the overseas democracy movement has paramount importance. Mobilizing international pressure gives domestic dissidents some room to maneuver. The Communist Party fears global public opinion. They always have, right from the beginning. The party talks about how it fears nothing on the international stage, but it is terrified. This is a “merit” of the Communist Party — it knows it cannot alienate the whole world. So an important job for us overseas is to mobilize the international community to put pressure on the Communist Party.
Another important job is to facilitate the flow of information to the domestic audience, such as what democracy in America looks like, and why it is good. We utilize all channels. There are more and more channels nowadays, including social media. I have hundreds of thousands followers on my Twitter, and half of them are using Twitter through a VPN. They send their greetings so I know they come from within China. This is how we communicate information and discuss problems with people inside China, how we explain issues that they find perplexing. I think this is also very important to the future democratization. Because democracy in China can only be established by the people in China. It cannot depend on people overseas. The majority of those overseas are never able to return. The more the people in China know, the smoother the process of establishing democracy will be. So, this is an important part of our work. These two are our main tasks.”