Former “Proud Boys” leader Enrique Tarrio and three other members of that far-right group were found guilty Thursday of plotting a violent assault on the United States Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep then-President Donald Trump in power after he he lost the 2020 election to Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
A jury in Washington, DC, found Tarrio guilty of seditious conspiracy after listening to a large number of witnesses for more than three months, in one of the most serious cases stemming from the jaw-dropping assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.
It is an important milestone for the Justice Department, which has now obtained seditious conspiracy convictions against the leaders of two major extremist groups accused of preventing Biden from assuming the presidency at all costs. The charge carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
Tarrio, who has been jailed since his arrest in March 2022, showed no emotion when the verdict was announced. He hugged one of his lawyers and shook hands with the other before leaving court. Some people sitting near him wiped away their tears.
The verdict is given after a judgment which lasted more than twice as long as anticipated and was plagued by disputes, calls for annulment and reports that government informants were among the group. The ruling against Tarrio, a high-profile far-right who was not present during the assault itself, could buoy the Justice Department as a special counsel investigates Trump, including aspects of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In recent weeks, special counsel Jack Smith has sought the testimony of several people close to Trump. Among them is former Vice President Mike Pence, who testified last week before a grand jury, likely giving prosecutors a personal account of conversations and events leading up to the insurrection.
Tarrio was one of the main targets of what has become one of the Justice Department’s largest investigations. He was leading the neo-fascist group — notorious for its street fights against left-wing activists — when Trump, in his first debate with Biden, told the Proud Boys to “stand aside and wait.”
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