WASHINGTON — Lawyers for the Proud Boys blamed the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol on Donald Trump during closing arguments in his seditious conspiracy trial Tuesday.
A lawyer for Enrique Tarrio said federal prosecutors were trying to make the Proud Boys a «scapegoat for Donald J. Trump and those in power.» An attorney for Joe Biggs said the defendants went to DC because their «commander in chief» told them it would be «crazy,» referencing Trump’s infamous December 19, 2020 tweet, which called on supporters to go to DC on January 6.
“’Being there, it’s going to be wild,’ said the commanding officer. And so they did,» Norm Pattis, Biggs’ lawyer, told the jury, adding that «their commanding officer sold them a lie.»
Tarrio, Biggs and fellow Proud Boys Ethan Nordean, Dominic Pezzola and Zach Rehl each face at least nine charges, including seditious conspiracy, a rarely used Civil War-era law. The trial has been underway for more than three months and jury selection in the case began in December 2020. The government said during closing arguments Monday that the Proud Boys wanted to be «Donald Trump’s army» and were » thirsty for violence and organization». for Action” before the January 6 attack.
Defense attorneys concluded their closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, and the Justice Department presented its rebuttal argument later in the day. Jurors will begin deliberating on Wednesday.
Two defendants testified during the trial: Rehl and Pezzola. Just before Rehl was questioned, detectives online showed videos that appeared to show Rehl deploying a pepper spray canister on the officers. Pezzola raged on the stand, citing conspiracy theories about another Jan. 6 contestant, Ray Epps, and ranting about the «bogus» charges and «bogus» trial.
Biggs’ attorney, Pattis, told jurors that «January 6 was a perfect storm» and that Trump played a significant role. If «America’s case against Donald J. Trump» is ever made, Pattis said, the «fight like hell» quote would be «evidence one.» But Trump was not on trial, she said.
Defense attorney Nayib Hassan, who is representing Tarrio, also pointed a finger at Trump, saying the former president’s anger caused what happened on January 6 and reminded the jury that Trump said «fight like hell» or his supporters. they are not «going to have a fight.» country never again.»
Hassan even partially blamed Trump for the Proud Boys’ membership, saying that Trump’s call for the group to «stand back and wait» brought new attention to the Proud Boys and they grew so quickly that «investigation became difficult.»
Hassan said Tarrio could not have known what was going to happen on Capitol Hill from a «hotel in Baltimore» where he was holed up on Jan. 6 (unlike his co-defendants, Tarrio did not go to Capitol Hill on Jan. 6). after being expelled from Washington, DC, the day before). Tarrio could not have predicted the future, Hassan said, holding up a photo of Nostradamus.
He reminded the jury that Tarrio was in communication with a Metropolitan Police officer in the months leading up to January 6, even telling the MPD officer where he would be staying while in DC. Why, Hassan asked, would Tarrio give him that information to an officer if he was going to commit sedition, one of the most serious crimes against the United States?
“Henry was an entertainer, a lover, and a dazzling dazzler,” Hassan argued.
Assistant US Attorney Nadia Moore, during the government’s rebuttal, said it was more than just words.
«Enrique Tarrio is not being ‘scapegoated’ for January 6th, he is being held accountable for the crimes he committed,» Moore said after showing a video posted on Parler in which Tarrio stood in front of the Capitol building wearing a mask. . «Premonition,» he titled the video.