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- Jury selection in the DC seditious-conspiracy trial of five Proud Boys leaders wrapped Friday.
- Also Friday, the trial judge rejected the defendants’ last-ditch efforts to get the case tossed.
- US District Judge Timothy J. Kelly said he found no government conduct that warranted dismissal.
Enrique Tarrio and three other top Proud Boys lost a last-ditch effort to dismiss their seditious-conspiracy case on Friday, as jury selection in the high-profile prosecution wrapped its second week in federal court in Washington, DC.
A full jury is expected to be seated Monday, with opening statements scheduled for Tuesday.
The four who had sought to get the case tossed had argued that their defense efforts are irreparably hampered because too many of the witnesses they’d like to call would plead the Fifth due to their own ongoing interactions with the Justice Department.
Two potential Proud Boys defense witnesses were also “intimidated” into silence when the federal government threatened prosecution, one of the four, Ethan Nordean, had argued.
The defendants had asked US District Judge Timothy J. Kelly to order the federal government to grant immunity to their potential defense witnesses, and to dismiss the indictment if the government refused.
In his decision, the judge said he did not find the government’s conduct warranted dismissal of the indictment that a total of five co-defendants are being tried on.
The indictment alleges that Tarrio, Nordean, and three other then-Proud Boys leaders conspired to violently storm the Capitol on January 6, 2021 to block Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 Presidential election.
Tarrio, then the group’s national chairman, was not on Capitol grounds that day, but planned and led the efforts of some 200 members of the extremist group who took part in the attack under the false belief that the election had been “stolen” from then-President Donald Trump, federal prosecutors allege.
Days before the attack, a Secret Service email warned that the Proud Boys planned to “literally kill people,” it was revealed during an October hearing of the House Select Committee that investigated the Capitol attack.
The Proud Boys are considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center; the Anti-Defamation League calls them a violent, right-wing extremist group. These and other extremism watchdog groups say misogynistic, Islamaphobic, transphobic, and anti-immigration rhetoric is common among Proud Boys members.
“With no evidence of threats, harassment, intimidation, or other misconduct, the Court will not second-guess the Government’s investigative or prosecutorial decisions,” the judge wrote Friday in denying the defendants’ latest bid to get the indictment tossed.
Likewise, the judge found no justification for giving the government the ultimatum requested by the defendants, who had asked him to either immunize defense witnesses or dismiss the indictment.
“Tarrio suggests that the Court should infer nefarious activity simply from the number of potential defense witnesses who have claimed privilege,” the judge also wrote.
“The Court has no grounds to do so. To the contrary it is hardly surprising that these witnesses — who are represented by counsel, after all— might believe that they could face criminal exposure.”