Enrique Tarrio Really Doesn’t Want the FBI to Search His Laptop

While there has been a close focus on the federal charges against the terrorists who mobbed the Capitol on January 6, there has been less focus on the lawfare Proud Boy leader Enrique Tarrio has been waging in his DC case.

Tarrio likely avoided federal charges like those filed against Proud Boy leaders Joe Biggs and Ethan Nordean by getting arrested two days earlier on charges associated with vandalizing a Black church and possession of a firearm. But Tarrio is complaining that his bail conditions — which prohibit him from entering DC except for reasons related to his prosecution — violate his First Amendment.

Thus, undersigned counsel invites the government to explain, at a hearing before the Court, what reasonable and credible justification it can offer for barring from the District of Columbia a person who is accused of a possessory felony offense (that does not even involve possession of bullets or a gun) and misdemeanor destruction of a Black Lives Matter flag.


This ban is especially harsh in Mr. Tarrio’s case, as: (1) he is an activist who needs to be in the District from time to time to organize and protest; (2) many American citizens are concerned about the policies of the Biden administration and thus have a right to redress by appearing at protests in the District; and (3) trials are extremely delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning that the “temporary” ban from the District will likely, in effect, result in a long-term ban if this Court does not modify it.

More interesting still, Tarrio moved to require the court to have a hearing before granting a warrant to search the phone or laptop that were seized from Tarrio when he was arrested (and he’s particularly interested in getting his laptop returned to him if and when the DC cops image it in response to a warrant).

Given the privacy interests at stake and the important legal issues at play, Mr. Tarrio requests that any execution, or issuance, of a warrant be temporarily halted to provide undersigned counsel the opportunity to respond. Further, defense counsel should be notified of, and be allowed to attend, any government/police request/application for a search warrant of Mr. Tarrio’s electronic devices (including his cell phone and laptop computer), online accounts, or any other item in which Mr. Tarrio has a privacy interest.

The DC Superior court rejected both requests (Tarrio is appealing the bail motion). In the latter case, Judge Robert Okun did so because the court has not issued a warrant, and Tarrio has no right to make a pre-emptive challenge in any case.

If I understand the posture of the request, however, nothing happening in the DC Superior court would prevent the DC US Attorney’s office from asking the DC District Court for a warrant to serve on the DC police — which is where they’d go if they were seeking the contents of the laptop as part of its January 6 investigation.

When Tarrio assaulted the Asbury United Methodist Church in December, he did so knowing it would create a cause among the far right. The same may be true of his decision to bring two magazines to DC — it may have been deliberate provocation in an attempt to bring a Second Amendment challenge.

So that may be all that’s going on here — an attempt to play the victim.

That said, given first the WaPo and now a NYT report that the DC US Attorney’s office is considering opening an investigation into the role that Tarrio’s buddy Roger Stone played in the insurrection — conveniently timed leaks that will ensure this comes up in Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing tomorrow — I wonder whether Tarrio was stupid enough to bring a laptop to his insurrection with something genuinely sensitive on it.

19 replies
  1. Joseph Andrews says:

    Thanks again for your work.

    I don’t (does anyone?!) follow this stuff the way you do, Ms. Wheeler. I was thinking about Roger Stone…

    And found it necessary to google ‘roger stone laptop cellphone evidence’…which led to this:


    …and searching within emptywheel.net reveals this:


    Both of which, while interesting reads…didn’t answer my question–so I’ll ask it here.

    Have previous investigations of Roger Stone’s electronic devices proven fruitful as far as connecting whatever dots exist between Stone’s (troublemaking) brain and other ‘co-conspirators’?

    Thanks for reading.

  2. Bay State Librul says:

    Merrick Garland is on tap this week for a meet and greet.
    Should be an easy lay up.
    Once he is installed will indictments flow?

  3. bmaz says:

    In fairness to Tarrio, NOBODY should ever want the FBI to search their laptop. Never. And it should always be fought.

    • PeterS says:

      Yes. I try to imagine someone arrested in Portland in a similar situation. (I hope I can say that without being accused of equating BLM protests with an insurrection)

    • ThoughtMail says:

      I’m compelled to agree that nobody should ever want “authorities” to search their laptop or cell phone.

      This still happens with persons presenting themselves and their possessions at a border crossing or airport, without any rational connection or cause to investigate their devices. In this case, arguendo, there IS reasonable cause to inspect his devices.

      Still, none of this has been litigated to satisfaction.

  4. BobCon says:

    Would the urgency he feels to get the laptop returned be a sign of financial straits?

    I’m awfully curious about who was paying for these guys to go on extended trips and how the cash flow has changed when the arrests started. I know that a lot of mob was self-funded Realtors and car salesmen and the like, and that a number of the Oath Keepers were guys living off of pensions or had a lot of home equity, but the Proud Boys seem to be composed of a lot of guys living much closer to the edge.

    • Vinnie Gambone says:

      Where did Alex Jones get $50k to plop down for a speaking spot? Where DOES the money come from ? What you won’t see is any organization Trump’s associated with paying legal fees for anybody.

      At CPAC are we going to see Teleprompter Trump, or free wheeling Trump? McConnell probably knows it’s only a matter of time before the feds find the the goods on Trump. Or, knows there’s good chance he’s convicted on NY charges. Smart money donors will start turning towards McConnel Cheney crowd. Ditto, the military sector. All Trump has to offer now is trouble and instability. Who does that benefit?

  5. William Verick says:

    Tarrio is litigating like Trump, i.e., like someone who thinks he’s a billionaire. Contesting everything. Each motion, such as the one to require a hearing in order to get a warrant, costs on the order of 40K to 60K. Who is funding this litigation strategy? Is Tarrio rich?

    • bmaz says:

      Lol, where do you come up with that? The appearance is in the DC Superior Court by a real, but certainly not world class, local law firm. That motion work cost nowhere near that much. And, assuming it did, do you think that others cannot support a criminal defendant? Seriously, people are out of their minds over all this.

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