The House select committee investigating the 6 January insurrection has issued subpoenas to Stewart Rhodes and Enrique Tarrio, the leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. Both organisations are pro-Trump extremist groups which played significant roles in the worst attack on the Capitol since 1814.
The subpoena also demands documents and testimony from the groups themselves, as well as the 1st Amendment Praetorian group and its’ leader Robert Patrick Lewis.
Members of both the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were among the participants in the violence in and around the Capitol on 6 January. Several Oath Keepers were filmed moving up a Capitol stairway clad in body armour while in a “stack” formation, and a number of Proud Boys were among the first rioters to break into the Capitol itself.
In a statement, Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson said the committee is now “seeking information from individuals and organizations reportedly involved with planning the attack, with the violent mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6th, or with efforts to overturn the results of the election”.
“We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack,” Mr Thompson said. “The Select Committee is moving swiftly to uncover the facts of what happened on that day and we expect every witness to comply with the law and cooperate so we can get answers to the American people”.
Mr Rhodes, a Yale-educated attorney and former congressional staffer, was referred to as “Person One” in an indictment alleging a conspiracy to attack the Capitol organized by members of his group, some of whom were pictured providing security for Trumpworld figures who played prominent roles in former president Donald Trump’s push to overturn the results of last year’s presidential election.
“The indictment explains that you were in direct contact with several of these members before, during, and shortly after the attack on the Capitol. Moments after the attack, you gathered approximately 100 feet from the Capitol with the Oath Keepers members who had just breached the building,” Mr Thompson wrote in a letter accompanying the subpoena to Mr Rhodes. “In written and spoken remarks delivered prior to January 6, 2021, you repeatedly suggested that the Oath Keepers should, or were prepared to, engage in violence to ensure their preferred election outcome”.
In a similar letter to Mr Tarrio, Mr Thompson said the committee “is investigating the facts, circumstances, and causes of the January 6th attack and issues relating to the peaceful transfer of power, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend to the House and its relevant committees corrective laws, politics, procedures, rules, or regulations,” including an “examination of how various individuals and entities coordinated their activities leading up to the events of January 6, 2021, as well as the influencing factors that fomented such an attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process”.
“The investigation and public accounts have revealed obtained credible evidence of your involvement, and the involvement of the Proud Boys, in the events within the scope of the Select Committee’s inquiry,” Mr Thompson added.
Mr Tarrio, who is currently in federal custody while serving a six month sentence for stealing and vandalising a Washington, DC church’s “Black Lives Matter” flag, was unavailable for comment.
Mr Lewis and his group are alleged to have provided security for a number of figures associated with the attempts to keep Mr Trump in office despite his having lost the election, including “Stop the Steal” organiser Ali Akbar (also known as Ali Alexander) and Michael Flynn, the disgraced former Trump national security adviser who reportedly pushed a Defence Department official to seize ballots and take other extralegal actions after it became clear that Mr Trump had lost.
The committee expects all recipients of this round of subpoenas to return responsive documents by 7 December. Messrs Rhodes and Tarrio are also expected to appear for depositions on 14 and 15 December, respectively. Mr Lewis is also expected to appear for a deposition on 16 December.