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Two more Proud Boys indicted for Capitol riot as prosecutors detail evidence of planning

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Four leaders among the Proud Boys have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, for conspiracy and other charges related to the siege of the US Capitol, as prosecutors reveal more of what they’ve learned about the pro-Trump extremist group’s encrypted communications and their attempts to avoid detection.

The indictment adds two defendants to a criminal case already open against Proud Boys Seattle leader Ethan Nordean and Florida Proud Boys event organizer Joseph Biggs.

The conspiracy indictment alleges Zachary Rehl, 35, of Philadelphia, and Charles Donohoe, 33, of North Carolina, worked as local Proud Boys chapter leaders alongside Biggs and Nordean to prepare paramilitary and high-tech communications equipment, raise funds and encourage their right-wing group members to come to Washington.

The prosecutors say they also switched channels for encrypted messaging among themselves leading up to the pro-Trump rally and storming of the Capitol, and that the four men each posted on social media and in encrypted chats about their pride in taking part in the siege afterward.

“I’m proud as f**k what we accomplished yesterday, but we need to start planning and we are starting planning, for a Biden presidency,” Rehl said in a message after the siege, prosecutors say.

Further court proceedings for Nordean and Donohoe are set for next week. Nordean and Biggs were released from jail pending trial, but prosecutors are now asking a federal judge to send the two back to jail because they face additional allegations of leading a January 6 conspiracy among the group.

Prosecutors say that in addition to the conspiracy charge, the pair removed a metal barrier to lead their crew onto the Capitol grounds during the riot, according to new court filings.

The judge in Washington, DC, has yet to respond to the request as of Saturday afternoon.

Judges had found previously that the Justice Department’s initial arguments against Nordean and Biggs weren’t enough to cross the high bar needed to keep a defendant in jail before trial.

More than a dozen Proud Boys — including several other leaders among the group — have now been charged in various conspiracy and riot-related cases following the insurrection.

The Justice Department has made clear that unraveling the group’s coordination and disrupting possible politically motivated violence in the future is a priority in the nearly unprecedented domestic terrorism probe.

Prosecutors, in the new indictment made public on Friday, document defiant posts about Biden’s Electoral College win from Rehl and others in the weeks leading up to January 6.

Prosecutors say the Proud Boys gathered $5,500 in crowd-sourced donations between December 30 and January 4.

The indictment also notes a co-conspirator who hasn’t been indicted discussing teams of Proud Boys the week of the 6th, and a Proud Boys communication channel that mentions a “plan” on the day of the pro-Trump rally and violent march to the Capitol.

What prosecutors know about the Proud Boys’ chairman

The new indictment builds out what prosecutors have learned about the group’s actions to reorganize their ranks the week of January 6, following the arrest of Proud Boys chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio on January 4.

Donohoe tried to move the group’s members onto a different encrypted messaging two days before the riot, out of fear the group’s communications would be exposed, prosecutors alleged in the indictment made public Friday.

The detail by the Justice Department to illustrate how the group worked to allegedly execute a sophisticated push into the Capitol during the chaos.

Previously, prosecutors said in court they believed the Proud Boys wanted Nordean to assume “war powers” in Tarrio’s absence.

Tarrio was arrested two days before the siege when he arrived in DC, for allegedly burning a church’s Black Lives Matter banner at a previous gathering in the city, and on weapons charges. His arrest took him off the street, with a court order to stay away from DC on January 6 and later. He has pleaded not guilty.

Following his arrest, Donohoe “expressed concern” that investigators would have access to Tarrio’s phone, prosecutors say. So he created a new encrypted messaging channel for him and other prominent Proud Boys members to use, “and took steps to destroy or ‘nuke’ the earlier channel,” prosecutors wrote.

“Everything is compromised and we can be looking at Gang charges,” Donohoe also wrote on encrypted message channels, according to the new indictment. “Stop everything immediately,” and, “This comes from top,” prosecutors say he wrote.

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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