Ex-Proud Boys leader says DOJ questioned him over Trump: reports
Government prosecutors questioned Enrique Tarrio over his ties to former President Trump, the former Proud Boys leader has said in recent interviews.
Tarrio told The Washington Post and The New York Times that ahead of his trial, he met with the prosecutors in charge of his case who said they believed he had communicated with Trump ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.
The Proud Boys’s former national chairman said the prosecutors believed he had communicated with an individual who was connected to another person who was connected to Trump, the Post reported. Tarrio said he did not know the person linked to Trump, according to the reports.
“They weren’t trying to get the truth,” Tarrio told the Post. “They were trying to coerce me into signing something that’s not true.”
At trial, prosecutors did not connect Tarrio and the other four Proud Boys charged with seditious conspiracy alongside him to Trump, other than pointing to the former president’s comments at his first 2020 debate against Biden where he urged the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” after being asked to denounce them.
“There is absolutely no connection between me and President Trump,” Tarrio told the Times.
As part of their defense strategy during the four-month trial, Tarrio’s attorneys blamed the former president for inflaming the mob Jan. 6, calling Tarrio the government’s “scapegoat.”
Tarrio was ultimately convicted of seditious conspiracy and sentenced to 22 years in prison last week — the longest sentence handed down to anyone in connection with the riot by four years.
Prosecutors said his “toxic influence over others” made him stand out from his co-defendants. At the sentencing, Judge Timothy Kelly called Tarrio the “ultimate leader of that conspiracy.”
Tarrio refuted that the Proud Boys’s goal Jan. 6 was to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
Nayib Hassan, an attorney for Tarrio, told reporters after the sentencing that they respect Kelly’s sentence but also “respectfully disagree,” adding that the former Proud Boys leader expects to file an appeal “soon.”