WASHINGTON — Hours before a jury was set to begin deliberating the fate of five Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the attack on the US Capitol. 6 defendants, echoing a defense used by Donald Trump during the campaign 2016 presidential
«What they were trying to do, what people are trying to do, and this is in general, again, I’m speaking in general, what they’re trying to do is manipulate the way we talk to each other in the locker room.» said Tarrio, speaking Tuesday night from jail at a Twitter Spaces event hosted by far-right website The Gateway Pundit. «It’s not fair, it really isn’t… It’s just not right. It’s not the justice system we grew up learning about in civics class.»
Tarrio said going through the three-month trial has opened his eyes to the overreach of the criminal justice system. Tarrio, along with Joe Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Dominic Pezzola and Zachary Rehl, face nine charges, including the rare charge of seditious conspiracy for his actions on January 6.
Tarrio was initially arrested on separate charges just before the Jan. 6 attack and spent the day at a hotel in Baltimore. Tarrio and the other four Proud Boys were indicted on seditious conspiracy charges in 2022, and a member of the organization who testified during the trial, Jeremy Bertino, pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy in October 2022.
Tarrio said late Tuesday that he believes the Justice Department has been «armed» against the January 6 defendants, and that the criminal conspiracy charges against some January 6 defendants were overreached.
«I’m going to be absolutely honest: if you walked into the building, you know, I’m okay with it, maybe you should get hit with trespassing. If you assaulted a police officer, okay, get hit with assault on a police officer. If you broke into something, if you stole something, they charge you that way,» Tarrio said. «What we’re seeing here with a lot of these cases is that they’re overcharging these cases, they want to give several years, decades, in some of these cases.»
During closing arguments Tuesday, Tarrio’s attorney blamed the attack on Trump, while federal prosecutors told jury Monday that the Proud Boys wanted to serve as Trump’s «army» and were «thirsting for violence and organizing for the action» before the attack.
Asked by NBC News if he agreed with his defense attorney to blame Trump for Jan. 6, Tarrio demurred, saying he didn’t want to discuss trial strategy but said he could «convince my lawyers by what they said.» .
Tarrio said he wouldn’t be able to answer some questions Tuesday night because the trial was ongoing and said he thought the jury might be «very fair.» He said the Proud Boys were imprisoned «not for the actions we have taken, but for the words we have spoken.»
Tarrio said that the Proud Boys were «standing on principle, and we haven’t given up on each other, and we’re not going to give up on each other, ever.» He said he expected Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who leads a House committee on the «weaponization» of the federal government that has focused on the Justice Department, to call the defendants on Jan. 6. to testify about their experiences.
Tarrio said he ultimately did not testify at trial because his defense team was concerned that the prosecution would use his past words against him.
«Everything I said, you know, from 2015, 2016, 2017 is fair and it has nothing to do with January 6,» Tarrio said. “We were afraid that they were going to use statements, old statements and just try to muddy the waters.”
Tarrio said the biggest surprise to him over the course of the trial was seeing how the criminal justice system works, as well as how much the government was able to argue on the rebuttal, the last word jurors heard before deliberations began.
“I think a lot of Americans don’t know how court procedures work, and I’ll be honest with you, I was one of those people,” Tarrio said.
Despite spending more than a year in pretrial detention since January 6, Tarrio said he still supports the former president and wants him to be president again.
“I hope it’s Donald Trump,” Tarrio said.
Tarrio said he hopes for a position in the Trump administration: inspector general of the Department of Justice.