Donald Trump’s Proud Boys army guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy

Jan. 6 seditious conspirators’ intent on keeping Donald Trump in power through violence. including former Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and three other leaders of the far-right extremist group, were found guilty Thursday of seditious conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

A jury deliberated for seven days in Washington before finding Tarrio, 39, and other defendants guilty on 31 of 46 counts.

The jury returned not-guilty verdicts on five counts — including acquitting one member, Dominic Pezzola, of seditious conspiracy — and deadlocked on 10 others.

The result marked the third victory for the Justice Department in three seditious conspiracy trials held after what it called a historic act of domestic terrorism to prevent the peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 presidential election.

So far, no federal sedition charges have been leveled against Trump —who incited the attack on the Capitol with a fiery speech outside the White House—or any members of his inner who plotted to bring his mob of supporters to Washington DC on the day when Congress certified the Electoral College results.

Tarrio, dressed in blue suit and vest, gazed at his relatives in the courtroom gallery as the verdict was read. The other men fixed their eyes on the jury foreman, and one gently clapped Pezzola on the back when his acquittal was read.

“If the worst happens … we’re standing on principle,” Tarrio had said in a jail call shared on social media after closing arguments April 25, making his first extended public comments since his March 2022 indictment.

Tarrio did not testify at trial, but he contradicted his defense team’s argument to jurors that he was being made “a scapegoat for Donald Trump and those in power.”

Instead, Tarrio embraced hard-line Trump backers’ claims that he was being used as “the next steppingstone” to “get to” Trump, who is running again for president. “They’re trying to get to the top and they’re trying to manipulate the 2024 election,” he said in the jail call.

U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly told the parties that he expected to impose sentences in August.

Legal analysts said the convictions on the historically rare and politically weighty crime of seditious conspiracy sent a necessary signal of deterrence to anyone who might seek to repeat or draw inspiration from that day’s political violence.

The verdict also could carry implications for the former president.

Special counsel Jack Smith is investigating whether Trump or those around him broke the law in seeking to hold on to power by fanning false and incendiary claims that the election was stolen, pressuring state and federal officials to assist the effort, and sending thousands of supporters who heard him speak at a Jan. 6 rally to march to the Capitol.

After the verdict, Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke at the Justice Department and said the jury’s decision made it clear “that the Justice Department will do everything in its power to defend the American people and American democracy.” Garland noted that one of the country’s largest criminal investigations ever has secured more than 600 convictions.

“Our work will continue,” Garland said. “The Justice Department will never stop working to defend the democracy to which all Americans are entitled.”

New York University law professor Ryan Goodman said the verdict empowers the special counsel to bring indictments for efforts to overturn the election.

“It underscores the enormous stakes in mobilizing Americans to believe the ‘big lie’ and directing an armed crowd to interfere with the congressional proceedings,” Goodman said.

The convictions mark a milestone on the journey to accountability for the perpetrators of the Capitol attack, “showing that political violence and attacks on our democratic institutions will be taken seriously by our justice system and will not be tolerated by the American people,” said Lindsay Schubiner, director of programs at Western States Center, a Portland-based civil rights group that monitors anti-democracy movements nationwide.

Over nearly 15 weeks of proceedings, prosecutors alleged that the Proud Boys on trial saw themselves as Trump’s “army.”

Inspired by his directive to “stand by” during a September 2020 presidential debate and mobilized by his December 2020 call for a “wild” protest, prosecutors said, the men sought to keep Trump in power through violence on the day that Congress met to certify the presidential election results.

Defense attorneys for Tarrio fought back by blaming the former president, saying prosecutors were punishing the Proud Boys for their political beliefs, for an unplanned riot triggered by Trump’s incitement of angry supporters, and for law enforcement failures.

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