Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Far-Right Groups

The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and their founders received demands from the panel.
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 6: Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of Pre... WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 6: Pro-Trump protesters gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation's capital to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. A pro-Trump mob later stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. Five people died as a result. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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November 23, 2021 3:01 p.m.

The House January 6 Committee sent subpoenas on Tuesday to a series of far-right groups and their leaders whose members were involved in either the Capitol insurrection or the rallies beforehand.

The Proud Boys, its leader Enrique Tarrio, and the Oath Keepers and its leader Stewart Rhodes all received House subpoenas.

The panel also issued a subpoena to First Amendment Praetorian and its founder, Robert Patrick Lewis. First Amendment Praetorian provided security for a rally on Jan. 5 at Freedom Plaza, according to a permit for the event and its organizer, Cindy Chafian.

The subpoenas come one day after the panel signaled that its investigation into the rally on the White House ellipse on Jan. 6 had expanded, with demands for documents and interviews going to far-right provocateurs Alex Jones and Roger Stone, but also to people involved in organizing the rally behind the scenes.

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In the subpoena to Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader, the panel notes that a member of the group was charged with crimes relating to the assault on the Capitol. Investigators also say that they want Rhodes’s records and testimony in part because he “suggested that the Oath Keepers should, or were prepared to, engage in violence to ensure their preferred election outcome.”

The demand suggests that the panel views the Oath Keepers’ involvement as part of a larger conspiracy to subvert the 2020 election, with the subpoena referencing stated attempts to have Oath Keepers patrol voting booths in November 2020, and statements from Rhodes after the results were finalized opining that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act to stay in power.

For Tarrio, the Proud Boys leader who is currently incarcerated, the panel wants to know about potential coordination among Proud Boys members on the day of the attack.

Video from the day has shown Proud Boys members instigating several acts of violence in and around the Capitol.

The panel says that the Proud Boys “advanced pointed, specific calls to violence related to the November 3, 2020 election leading up to January 6, 2021.” Thirty-four Proud Boys members have been charged in connection with the attack, the subpoena says.

Taken together, the subpoenas show that the panel is looking at the muscle behind the attack – two far-right organizations whose members have shown themselves willing to use violence, and who were committed to the idea that the 2020 election result was illegitimate and needed to be undone.

But the third group — 1st Amendment Praetorian — is far less known.

Founded by author Robert Patrick Lewis in September 2020, the group describes itself as composed of veterans and former law enforcement and intelligence officials, and says it is aimed at “providing intelligence and security services to grassroots events.”

According to the House subpoena to the group and its founder, 1st Amendment Praetorian provided security for Michael Flynn, far-right provocateur Ali Alexander, and for a number of events held to contest the 2020 election results.

Two days before the insurrection, the subpoena notes, the group’s Twitter account posted a message saying that “there may be some young National Guard Captains facing some very, very tough choices in the next 48 hours. Pray with every fiber of your being that their choices are Wise, Just, and Fearless.”

None of the three individuals subpoenaed breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 or appeared to have played any physical role in the insurrection attempt.

Tarrio was arrested on Jan. 4 on charges that he burned a Black Lives Matter flag stolen from a D.C. church during a December 2020 protest.

That effectively banned him from D.C., but not his fellow proud Boys.

Rhodes purportedly stayed in touch with Oath Keepers as they breached the Capitol, prosecutors said this year. Texts released by prosecutors showed Rhodes communicating with group members as they breached Congress, with the leader dropping an image in a group chat captioned: “Trump better do his damn duty.”

Lewis’s whereabouts on the day are less clear, though he blamed the attack in a video afterwards on unnamed agitators.

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