As Proud Boys Trial Begins, Defense Points to Trump

He was 'the prime mover that whipped up the crowd,' says attorney
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2023 5:10 PM CST
Key Points in Proud Boys Trial's Opening Arguments
Proud Boys leader Henry "Enrique" Tarrio during a rally in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 26, 2020.   (AP Photo/Allison Dinner, File)

Opening statements in one of the biggest trials related to the Capitol riot got underway Thursday in DC, as onetime Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio and four associates attempt to fend off charges of seditious conspiracy. In Thursday's opening arguments:

  • Prosecution: Tarrio and his men led a coordinated attack on “the heart of our democracy” in their attempt to keep Donald Trump in office, said Assistant US Attorney Jason McCullough, per the AP. “These men did not stand back. They did not stand by. Instead, they mobilized,” he said. The reference is to Trump telling the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by" during a presidential debate, a clip that was played in the courtroom.
  • Prosecution, II: “You will see the private communications, you will see the public statements, you will see their coordinated actions, you will see the celebration of the group’s activities, they will attempt to cover their tracks,” McCullough said, per the Washington Post. “You will know by the way they took direct aim at the certification of the election results, this is the direct result of their actions.” To them, the election "was a fraud," he added, per USA Today, "and they were there to stop it."

  • Defense: Attorney Nicholas D. Smith, who is representing defendant Ethan Nordean, told jurors that prosecutors want them “to find guilt based on your dislike of these people.” Instead, he asked jurors to “set aside feelings, emotions, anger, politics and make something like a scientific diagnosis.” He said that no riot was planned and that the Proud Boys have been made into a "scapegoat" for what transpired spontaneously.
  • Defense, II: Without actually naming Trump, Smith cast blame on the former president for inciting the violence. "You will hear from witnesses who they understood was responsible for this," he said. "Who they understood was the prime mover that whipped up the crowd at his rally, that urged them onto the Capitol at his rally on Jan. 6.”
(More Proud Boys stories.)

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