Proud Boys riot trial postponed due to committee hearings

A federal judge on Wednesday agreed to postpone a trial of the former leader of the Proud Boys and other members of the extremist group accused of attack on the US Capitol to prevent Congress from confirming President Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly postponed the start of the trial from August 8 to December 12 after lawyers for some of the men argued that their clients could not get a fair trial by an impartial jury amid televised hearings by the House committee. investigation into the attack on the Capitol. They are also waiting for the commission to share documents that could become evidence.

Former national president of the Proud Boys, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other men are charged with seditious conspiracy to commit what authorities say was a plot to forcibly oppose the lawful transfer of presidential power during the joint session of the Proud Boys. Congress on January 6, 2021.

Tarrio, 38, of Miami, and his co-defendants — Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola — have been in federal custody for months.

Their trial is expected to take four to six weeks, until next year.

Biggs, Pezzola and Rehl asked for the trial to be adjourned. Biggs’ attorney, J. Daniel Hull, noted that the House committee isn’t expected to release hundreds of testimony and interview transcripts until after a trial is said to begin in August.

“The transcripts are indispensable for the preparation of the trial,” Hull wrote.

Justice Department prosecutors approved the delay. They said the House Committee’s failure to share the statement and the transcripts of the interviews also hinders their ability to investigate and prosecute the Jan. 6 defendants.

Tarrio was against delaying the trial.

“Tarrio believes an impartial jury will never be reached in Washington, DC, whether the trial is in August, December or next year,” his lawyers wrote.

Nordean’s lawyers objected to delaying the trial for months while the Proud Boys leaders were held in police custody.

Police arrested Tarrio in Washington two days before the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot and charged him with vandalizing a Black Lives Matter banner at a historic black church during a December 2020 protest. Tarrio was not in Washington when the riots broke out, but authorities say he helped spark the violence that prevented Congress from confirming Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.

The seditious conspiracy charge alleges that the Proud Boys held meetings and communicated via encrypted messages to plan the attack in the days leading up to January 6. On the day of the riots, members of the Proud Boys staged a coordinated plot to storm past the police. barricade and attack the building with a gang of Trump supporters, the indictment said.

Nordean, 31, of Auburn, Washington, chaired the Proud Boys chapter. Biggs, 38, of Ormond Beach, Florida, was a self-described Proud Boys organizer. Rehl, 36, was president of the Proud Boys Division in Philadelphia. Pezzola, 44, was a Proud Boys member from Rochester, New York.

Two other members of the Proud Boys — Matthew Greene of Syracuse, New York and Charles Donohoe of Kernersville, North Carolina — have pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with the Department of Justice.

Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice Media, which founded the Proud Boys in 2016, sued the Southern Poverty Law Center for calling it a hate group. Proud Boys members call it a politically incorrect men’s club for “western chauvinists.” They have often fought with anti-fascist activists at rallies and protests.

About 40 leaders, members or associates of Proud Boys have been indicted during the January 6 siege. More than 800 people have been charged with federal crimes related to the riots.

Also on Wednesday, prosecutors in the seditious conspiracy case against members of another extremist group – the Oath Keepers – asked the judge to investigate whether the payment of at least some of the defense attorneys by an organization controlled by attorney Sidney Powell violates court rules.

Prosecutors pointed to articles Mother Jones and BuzzFeed that said Powell’s group, Defending the Republic, pays some attorneys’ fees. Powell was part of Trump’s legal team that promulgated baseless conspiracy theories alleging voter fraud in an effort to keep the Republican president in office after the 2020 election.

Prosecutors say such an arrangement could violate a rule that states that attorneys cannot take money to represent a client from anyone other than the client unless three conditions are met, including that “there is no interference with the independence of the lawyer of professional judgment or with the client-lawyer relationship.”

Associated Press reporter Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this report from Boston.

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