- A DC judge is weighing ex-Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio’s bid to be let out of jail pending trial on Jan. 6 conspiracy charges.
- At a hearing Wednesday, the judge said Tarrio’s ‘We did this’ boast is ‘strong’ evidence for keeping him jailed.
- Tarrio is accused of leading the far-right extremist group’s attack on the Capitol; more than 40 members are charged.
Ex-Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio hopes to be released on $1 million bail as he awaits trial on his January 6, 2021, conspiracy case — but a DC judge said Wednesday that the former extremist group leader’s “We did this” boast is strong evidence for keeping him jailed.
Tarrio had made the boast to his top Proud Boys lieutenants on an encrypted chat channel, minutes after Rochester, New York, chapter leader Dominic Pezzola allegedly broke the first Capitol window with a riot shield forcibly stolen from an officer.
“Take Mr. Tarrio at his own words,” a federal prosecutor, Jason McCullough, argued Wednesday in opposing Tarrio’s bid for bail.
“At 2:24 [p.m.], he says, ‘Make no mistake. We did this,'” McCullough told Judge Timothy Kelly in DC District Court.
“Later, in the 4 o’clock hour, he says — when he’s asked what should we do — he says, ‘Do it again.'”
The prosecutor pointed out that the day before the Capitol breach, Tarrio was released on bail for burning a BLM banner stolen from a historic DC church.
As a condition of that bail, Tarrio had to stay out of DC on January 6, 2021. But prosecutors contend that he directed his Proud Boys troops anyway, from a hotel room in Baltimore.
And Tarrio’s men “were the tip of the spear on January 6th,” the prosecutor told the judge of the successful effort to disrupt Congress as it certified Joe Biden’s presidential win.
“Mr. Tarrio is in celebration of it publicly and most importantly in private, taking responsibility for it,” the prosecutor said.
“As rioters are 11 minutes into the building, Mr. Tarrio is on private encrypted chat with that same group saying, ‘Make no mistake. We did this.’ He’s asked also, in the same chat, ‘Are we a militia yet?’ To which he responds, ‘Yup.’
“Mr. Tarrio is exercising control over these men,” even from Baltimore, the prosecutor said. “And he is aware of what they have done.”
Defense lawyer Nayib Hassan argued that Tarrio always respected bail conditions when released after two previous arrests and is not a flight risk now.
Tarrio’s entire family lives in South Florida and is ready to post a $1 million bond secured by the homes of his grandfather and aunt, and would agree to home confinement at his mother’s house in Miami, his lawyer said.
“It goes without words that Mr. Tarrio has renounced his position as chairman of the Proud Boys. I think that’s common knowledge,” the lawyer noted.
“He is not chairman of the Proud Boys anymore,” the lawyer added. “He hasn’t done anything whatsoever, communicated whatsoever, with the Proud Boys since January 6.”
And as for the Proud Boys, Hassan insisted it was “just a group of friends that talk and discuss but never planned anything per se.”
The two sides also gave opposing accounts of a January 5, 2021, meeting, in a DC parking garage, between Tarrio and Stewart Rhodes, the now-indicted leader of the Oath Keepers.
Hassan said Tarrio’s only purpose in going to the garage was to meet with a lawyer, Kellye SoRelle, who represented Oath Keepers and Latinos for Trump.
Tarrio was interested in SoRelle representing him, Hassan said, and in fact, can be heard in video filmed prior to the meeting saying “I just need to talk to her.”
McCullough countered that Tarrio’s agenda upon being released from bail went beyond an innocent legal consultation and that Tarrio, whose phone had been confiscated by law enforcement, can be heard in the same tape saying, “I need a communication device” and “I need access to my Telegram.”
His co-defendants, meanwhile, were communicating themselves about Tarrio and his “plan” for the riot, prosecutors said.
“The fundamental point here is that Mr. Tarrio on release was focused on and engaged in regaining control and regaining communication for the command and control structure that he had put in place for January 6,” the prosecutor said.
The judge did not say when he would rule on Tarrio’s bail request, only that it would be “shortly.” All five Proud Boy conspiracy defendants are back before the judge on Thursday.
Of his bail decision, the judge said, “I think it comes down largely to the strength of the evidence,” rather than anything to do with the garage meeting, or Tarrio’s criminal record and community ties.
“And I take many of your points, Mr. Hassan, that there’s a lot of circumstantial evidence,” the judge continued.
“There’s a lot of evidence here, and some of it connects to your client stronger — like when he directly said, ‘Make no mistake. We did this.’ And some of it connects to your client very deeply. And I will sort it all out.”