Newly released chat logs show chaos and fear within the Proud Boys in the weeks following the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
The chat logs, released by lawyers for a Washington-based leader in the group, Ethan Nordean, paint a picture of a street gang buckling under the pressure of federal charges.
“I mean fuck,” one unidentified individual said in recordings obtained by prosecutors from Nordean’s phone. They then referred to anti-fascists, or “antifa”: “‘Tifa looks like professionals compared to us… It’s completely fucked.”
In other audio files from the same day, unidentified speakers worried openly about federal charges. One person mused that authorities don’t prosecute unless they have a “completely locked case.”
“We are fucked,” another person said. “They are coming for us.”
The records, dated Feb. 1, came from an April review by investigators of the contents of Nordean’s phone. Nordean’s attorney entered an investigators’ report on the recordings into his case docket Tuesday.
It’s not clear whether the individuals quoted were all communicating in the same channel. The investigator’s report said they reviewed audio files labeled “telegram-cloud-documents” from Nordean’s phone — audio files which included discussions relevant to Jan. 6 and “some general banter between members within the telegram chat(s).” The messaging app Telegram allows users to send each other audio files.
In an accompanying court filing, the The Proud Boy leader’s lawyer alleged that the chat logs constituted “additional evidence the government withheld from the defense and the Court until after the Court revoked his release order.” Nordean and another Proud Boy leader, Joe Biggs, were ordered back to jail on April 19.
Several messages, including from Nordean, concerned Proud Boys’ rallies, including the disastrous and ultimately criminal events of Jan. 6. At one point, Nordean noted that he has a good reputation for planning rallies in the Pacific Northwest, “but that he didn’t plan the national rallies,” according to the investigators’ notes. “Ethan Nordean comments that he openly stated that they should stop rallying,” another entry noted.
“You should be lucky I was there,” Nordean said at one point, as quoted by the investigator. “You know, I’m the guy that you want leading guys because I actually know how to do it and keep people in line versus if I wasn’t there guys would probably be running off doing their own thing.”
Nordean is one of several Proud Boys facing conspiracy charges for their actions on Jan. 6, which included allegedly encouraging people to travel to D.C., obtaining paramilitary gear and supplies for the attack, scheming to evade law enforcement by ditching the Proud Boys typical black-and-yellow colors and dismantling police barricades before storming the Capitol.
Another investigator’s note seems to sum up the mood: “Individual comments to Ethan that he was mentioned in the Biggs indictment and mentioned others that were arrested/indicted. He doesn’t believe it went well.”
“I understand where we’re at in the frat,” Nordean said in another recording. “I understand that we’ve taken some risks that we shouldn’t have taken. We’ve done some things we shouldn’t have done. Ok but they’ve been done and we need to learn from em.”
Nordean claimed to no longer be a Trump supporter, according to the investigators’ notes, which described him talking about fighting for “some secret plan that didn’t come to fruition.”
Then, another unidentified individual commented that Nordean got “lost in the sauce” and should step down.