THE RINGLEADER’S LAST(?) CIRCUS: Observations from inside the Proud Boys Seditious Conspiracy Trial

There was an occasion when I sat inside the courtroom for the Proud Boys seditious conspiracy trial where I caught Proud Boys ringleader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio’s eye.

Most days, due to rules at the Prettyman courthouse prohibiting recording devices and electronics in the courtroom itself, I reported from the media room with the rest of the press where I could watch proceedings on a closed circuit feed as I tweeted them out in real-time. 

But a few times, so I could put eyes on the jury or the defendants, I would leave the windowless room to sit in the thick of it and take notes the old-fashioned way in court with my notebook balancing on my crossed knee.  

We didn’t look at each other for very long. 

Tarrio looked into my face and I into his. His eyes went slightly wide and searching for a moment as he, I suspect, worked out that I was press in short order. Not many reporters were covering the trial to begin with and it was very sparsely attended by the public so a new face was likely to stand out. And of course, I always come into a courtroom bearing a notebook and pen, so the dots, I presume, were pretty easy to connect. 

But the look on his face that day is something I’ve thought a lot about recently and in particular, since he and fellow Proud Boys Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, and Zachary Rehl were convicted of seditious conspiracy and a multitude of other charges for their roles in Jan. 6.

It was roughly midway through the four-month-long trial. The prosecution’s daily pace was stilted with defense objections on a near-constant basis. It seemed proceedings were getting terribly bogged down and I wondered how much of a witness’s testimony the jury could actually remember at the end of every day given the incessant interruptions and sidebars. Turns out they did just fine. 

At this point, Tarrio’s co-defendants Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola had not yet testified. It wasn’t clear at the time if they would. But it seemed nonetheless the defense was intent on putting up a fight every step of the way on grounds meritorious or not. With the defense willing to swing so big, I imagined, if I were a defendant in this trial, and swinging for the fences is pretty much all I’ve got, I’d suppose I would be happy to see my lawyers do it. 

And considering all of this, when his eyes met mine that first time, there wasn’t a trace of anxiety on Tarrio’s face. In fact, it was the easiness in it that struck me. There’s an assertiveness that shades a person’s face when they have experience dealing with “delicate” situations but this was not just the look of experience with tough times writ large on his face. 

There was pride. The look struck me as ego. It was confidence, baldly. I wished everyone paying attention to the trial could have seen his face in that moment so they could understand exactly what I mean. 

I’ve been racking my brain as to where and when I’ve seen this look specifically before and what it reminded me of. 

And then it came to me. 

Tarrio looked at me that day in the same way I had seen politicians look when I covered Congress: It is the look of a person who knows they are selling something or they really want to sell something and there’s a lot of pressure behind their eyes for me to buy it or believe it. 

Tarrio had nothing to say to the jury at trial, as is his right. And he decided that before Rehl or Pezzola would make their (ultimately tortured) appearances. But ahead of the jury’s deliberations, and without a federal prosecutor to face, Tarrio had plenty to say during a “Spaces” event held on Twitter and hosted by the right-wing Jan. 6 conspiracy theory peddling Gateway Pundit. 

In so many words, Tarrio defended his decision against testifying and it largely sounded like he was griping about the strength of the government’s case against him. More directly, he claimed prosecutors would misconstrue his words or bring out old statements unrelated to Jan. 6 to hurt him if he took the stand.

Before the verdict came down, Tarrio said he would respect the jury’s decision and that he felt he and his co-defendants were “in a good place.” 

And that’s the tricky thing with someone like Tarrio. If your public persona has largely revolved around attempting to manipulate the press for your benefit, what is said or done in the press sort of rings hollow once you know what his game is.

Now all things being fair, perhaps he really believes he’s innocent. Or perhaps he knows he is guilty in his bones. I ask, even if Tarrio himself stated these positions publicly, how does one trust him? 

Perhaps for his supplicants, friends, lovers, foot soldiers and the lawyers paid to serve him, it is easier.

But for the rest? For the rest of America that believes the jury rendered a fair verdict and found him guilty of orchestrating a seditious conspiracy—what basis do they have to trust a word Tarrio or his ilk utter about Jan. 6 ever again? 

He’s not playing to the American public at large. He knows his audience. But I write this piece offering a window into a person I observed for 60 days because I realize most Americans don’t know who Tarrio is at all. That seems imbalanced to me given the liberties Tarrio and his co-defendants attempted to forcibly take with their fellow American’s votes in a presidential election.

(I wish more people could have seen the trial in action but even I, who champion transparency, go back and forth on whether cameras in every courtroom would be truly beneficial or if it would turn every defendant into an aspiring reality-tv star.)

At trial, Tarrio was closely focused, regularly taking or passing notes, especially during witness testimony. He didn’t slouch moodily in his chair or seem out of sorts when tensions ran high between U.S. District Judge Tim Kelly and his co-defendants’ attorneys.

I watched him whisper to people at a crowded table populated by his co-defendants and their attorneys. The stakes so high, he was an ever-active party to his own case. 

Rehl sat to Tarrio’s left. Ethan Nordean to his right. They were nearly shoulder to shoulder. Joseph Biggs and Pezzola sat furthest away from Tarrio though along the same side of the table. Many defense attorneys were squeezed onto the opposite side or at the ends of the table though Tarrio’s attorneys often sat at another long one just adjacent to him. He was most talkative outside of the jury’s presence though their presence didn’t stop him, really. 

He was always “on” it seemed. I watched him exchange what looked like very friendly words with a young female paralegal sitting just across from him on occasion. I watched him pour her a glass of water and another time, I watched as he accepted a piece of gum or a mint she offered with her smile broad and eyes tender. He mouthed ‘thank you’ at her, grinning back as he did before passing another sticky note to a lawyer at the table. 

Tarrio’s confidence may have also come from knowing that he had at least one person watching in the pews from time to time who wrote for the Gateway Pundit. This individual once professed to me in the hallways of Prettyman that she was a “friend of the defendants.” She also said she respected how I covered the trial even if she disagreed with me politically. The truth is, she doesn’t know my politics beyond what she presumes of course, and more importantly and this may be a concept unfamiliar to some, but my politics don’t determine my reportage. The point wasn’t one I felt like making so I thanked her politely and went about my work. 

Meanwhile, I spent weeks watching Tarrio elicit more than one or two laughs or smiles from U.S. marshals when they would engage him in passing chit-chat on breaks or at the start of a trial day.

A real charmer that Tarrio fancies himself, I would think to myself as I watched him in court whether in person or from the media room. 

Tarrio’s smiles came easily in that courtroom. 

Though I welcome levity in its various forms, even yes, in a federal courtroom, his consistent lightness stood out in such stark contrast to the moment. To the grueling pace of the trial. For someone potentially facing 20 years in prison plus and squaring off with federal prosecutors that had been building a case again him for over a year, Tarrio exuded what seemed like an unfounded optimism in the eventual outcome. Online since the trial, he’s expressed his frustration of being kept in isolation in detention for 23 of 24 hours a day. He has lamented a weaponized Justice Department. It’s the same song jurors heard in the Oath Keepers case to some degree or another. It’s the core argument by J6ers to fundraise. 

Back on April 26, before jurors went into deliberations, Tarrio said: “I’m going to be dead honest: If you walked in the building, you know, I agree, maybe you should get hit with trespass. If you assaulted a police officer, fine, get hit with assault on a police officer. If you broke something, if you stole something, get charged that way…What we’re seeing here with a lot of these cases is they’re overcharging these cases, they want to give multiple years, decades, in some of these cases.”

But I ask, again, who can trust Tarrio’s assessment? The jury couldn’t. Not on the topmost charge anyway. Yet Tarrio said before the conviction, he got a fair trial. Yet later, another message that appears as “forwarded to the Proud Boys,” from Tarrio’s Telegram account stated: “The fight isn’t over. This is just the beginning.” 

On the day I looked into his face, that was the face of Henry “Make it a Spectacle” Tarrio. 

I think back to what his own lawyer Nayib Hassan, asked of one Proud Boy witness at trial, George Meza aka Ash Barkoziba. Did Meza understand Tarrio liked to “razzle-dazzle” people and the media? Did he understand Tarrio was more a “showboater” than a “showman?” Whatever difference between those two labels Hassan was trying to make was unclear and an objection to relevance on the question was sustained by Judge Kelly. Hassan left it alone. And I suppose for good reason—is Tarrio about spectacle or is Tarrio leadership? Does he, in fact, believe he is leading a (fascist) movement? An answer to either one of those questions in a courtroom could be damaging because it begs another: so, does Tarrio engage in criminal conduct because it’s fun and he is an agent of chaos or does he genuinely believe it is his imperative to “save” America, the rest of his fellow Americans views on that be damned. 

After the verdict dropped, Tarrio went on Telegram and shared a 2001 quote from Nelson Mandela: “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

Drawing on Nelson Mandela for inspiration is understandable but let’s be clear: Tarrio is no Mandela. 

Where Mandela helped lead a nation out of apartheid at great personal sacrifice and imprisonment and helped create a multi-racial democracy, Tarrio, a jury of his peers has decided, conspired with a group of men to stop a democratic process by brute force. 

And Tarrio did that by overseeing a network of men who spoke of “fash[ing] out,” as they espoused bigoted and racist views that allowed their anger or bloodlust or some combination of both to remain at a constant simmer.  And unlike Mandela, who condemned prejudice and hatred, no evidence emerged at trial of Tarrio condemning violence or hatred. No, in fact, and instead, Tarrio’s lawyers worked overtime to keep out details that could have revealed Tarrio’s true colors, like when he burned a Black Lives Matter flag outside of a historic Black church in December 2020.

Mandela and Tarrio really only share one quality and it is in a very general sense. They were both leaders of other people in the typical understanding of the word. But that’s it. As a leader, Mandela pursued peace and equality for subjugated human beings. Tarrio pursued a narrow, deeply selfish vision of a country subjugated by views held by the Proud Boys and their supporters. 

After considering the overwhelming evidence and testimony of fellow Proud Boys both for and against the defense, the jury convicted Tarrio, Nordean, Rehl, and Biggs of seditious conspiracy as well as conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, and obstruction of an official proceeding. Only Pezzola, who wrestled a police riot shield away from an officer before using it to bash open a window and let rioters stream inside the Capitol, was deemed “too stupid,” by the jury to commit seditious conspiracy.

The charges start to lose some of their everyday meaning when you read them enough times in their cloying legalese. But stripped down, it is vital to understand the simple concept here. A jury found, save for one man of five, that the Proud Boys on Jan. 6, led by Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, decided their will should overtake the free will of millions of Americans who already cast their ballot against a candidate that Proud Boys preferred. 

At trial, jurors heard testimony and reviewed evidence showing how many Proud Boys believed the election was stolen. Many of them bought into the bogus lie that Trump and his sycophants in Congress and in the right-wing mediasphere repeated for months. 

And yet, it was never made perfectly clear: did Tarrio believe Trump’s Big Lie or was he too in on Trump’s grift? 

Proud Boys didn’t come to D.C. to merely protest, a jury has agreed. They came to DC to commit acts of violence against the U.S. government and law enforcement. Proud Boys intended to stop Congress from doing its work so they might have another shot, even though it was far too late, to install their loser of the 2020 election into the White House. 

Tarrio’s recent reference to Mandela reminds me of one of my own favorites: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Tarrio respected and enhanced no one’s freedom on Jan. 6, least of all and perhaps most ironically, his own.

When Oath Keeper founder Stewart Rhodes was on trial for seditious conspiracy last year, he appeared on InfoWars and referenced Nelson Mandela too in the sort of self-aggrandizing way he did with much else when he—unlike Tarrio—testified at his own trial. 

On InfoWars Rhodes said, before jurors had deliberated: “You need to be willing to go to jail. I think Americans need to lose their fear of being indicted or put in prison. When you have a dictatorship you’re going to have dissidents. And if you’re going to have anybody standing up for freedom, some of you are going to go to jail and some of you are going to go to prison. But just like Nelson Mandela was willing to go to jail for life, he did 20 years, you have to be willing to do that. You have to be willing to take the hit if you’re a person who’s a freedom fighter and is standing up for rights. Because if you don’t, then what you become is a slave.” 

It was evocative of the end-all-be-all, good vs. evil talk that he invoked in his draft letters to Trump beseeching him to invoke the Insurrection Act, raise Oath Keepers to aid him, and if necessary, help overturn the 2020 election results since they both knew they were “fraudulent.” 

That both Tarrio and Rhodes cite Nelson Mandela would seem to speak volumes about how they internalize their conduct and their crimes. Or maybe just perhaps how they propagandize them.

In the past, I covered a trial involving an American terrorist sympathizer who provided material support to ISIS: Mohammed Khweis, the first American convicted by a U.S. jury of joining the Islamic State. 

I watched Khweis deny strongly supported allegations against him on direct and I watched him crumble under cross. I watched him lie on the witness stand when his family was watching from the pews, some unable to hold back tears. I watched him nearly burst into tears himself when it was clear prosecutors had him in a lie. I recall, outside of the jury’s presence, a defense attorney asking the presiding judge if it may be a good idea to pull his family member out of the courtroom so Khweis would answer more freely.

After his trial, Khweis was sentenced to 20 years for providing material support to terrorists and for a weapons charge. Last year, after a successful appeal, he had his sentence reduced to 14 years after the weapons charge was dropped.

In an interview in 2022, Khweis said: “It’s still mind-boggling to me that I made this terrible decision.” After watching him in court in 2017 absolutely beside himself with anxiety, here in 2023 I would wager a guess that he probably means that. 

To compare, Tarrio has expressed no such remorse to date. He’s offered a lot of thin excuses for his conduct, little real apology. Before jurors, his team painted him as a scapegoat for Donald Trump, blamed for Jan. 6  because Trump could not possibly be held to account. Before the jury began deliberating, Tarrio went on social media and called himself a “stepping stone” on a road that effectively ends with the death of the First Amendment. 

The racist, misogynist, virulent, anti-Semitic, and anti-democratic rhetoric (and actions) expressed by Proud Boys were always defended at trial as “locker room talk” or part and parcel of their rollicking discussions about “self-defense” against leftists, antifa, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. 

It was just talk! It was always in good fun! How dare the government criminalize free speech!

This was, boiled down, the argument often delivered unsuccessfully at trial by Norm Pattis, a defense attorney for Joe Biggs. Pattis also represents Alex Jones. Maybe Pattis was at his wit’s end on the long side of a four-month trial or maybe it was an inside joke or maybe he did it to “taunt” the press he knows watches from the media room, but one day after returning from a break and before jurors had reentered chambers, Pattis took a moment to ham it up and perhaps unwittingly encapsulate just how unserious the defense thinks their clients conduct was on Jan. 6. I don’t know. But he leaned into a microphone and offered a short, guttural, “uhuru,” the Proud Boys mantra/chant invoked at their rallies, sometimes as a type of call and response. 

He chuckled as he took his seat.

Tarrio had called the violent language of the Proud Boys “simple fun” in his media spot late last month. He even teased Lawfare reporter Roger Parloff, who, like me, covered the trial gavel-to-gavel, when Parloff recently mentioned Tarrio’s suit choice. 

Ever the jokester, that Tarrio. A real laugh-riot. 

Whoever Tarrio is or isn’t, whoever he speaks for, or proposes to speak for, this most immediate chapter in his life is now written thanks to a jury of his peers who represent checks in a greater system that he sought to tear asunder. Now, he and his co-defendants face what could be very lengthy prison sentences.

Tarrio has said his “fight isn’t over.”

Neither is the Justice Department’s.


57 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Tarrio quoting Mandela is like the way many GOP politicians quote MLK’s single “I have a dream . . .” line from one speech. They may know those few words, but they don’t know the people they are quoting, and don’t have a clue about the meaning of the word “justice.”

    • John Paul Jones says:

      They never cite the passage in that MLK speech about how America has written a check (for freedom, for equality) that they don’t have, or won’t provide, the funds to cover. The speech ends on hope and on light on the distant hills of the future. But the only way that has resonance is because of the darkness evoked, in humble, everyday metaphors, at the beginning.

      And many many thanks to Brandi for her sharp and insightful coverage. I too, look forward to the book, should there be one.

  2. greenbird says:


    thank you for hanging on, and for letting me find you at Courthouse News, long ago.


  3. Savage Librarian says:


    Vaingloriously vicious,
    Proud Boys were so pernicious,
    their verdict rendered them seditious.

    Even if inauspicious,
    the thugs’ conspiracy was ambitious,
    predatory and surreptitious.

    Trump’s mobsters are malicious:
    Barr’s MO, more than suspicious,
    his pretexts for Stone & Flynn, fictitious.

    • Kick the Darkness says:

      Ahh…that was great, but how I’ve got “ious” words running through my head. Must…get…rid…of…them.

      The day-to-day grind of the trial, tendentious and likely egregious
      Day-to-day dining at the courthouse, repetitious and possibly not nutritious
      But the day-to-day reporting, salubrious and definitively delicious.

  4. jgcOCANADA says:

    Thank you for covering the Proud Boys trial; looking forward to you covering the sentencing of the Oathkeepers for emptywheel!

    Do you have any detailed courtroom observations on Zach Rehl, as well? I am a Philly area reader. Rehl came as a counter-“protester” to a nighttime Indivisible rally outside exFBI Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick’s office in Bucks County in Dec 2019 (concerning Fitzpatrick’s vote against Trump’s 1st impeachment). Local police who were there at the request of Indivisible offered to escort the Indivisible members (who were not even aware of the Proud Boys) back to their cars after the event, because they saw them as a threatening presence. Also, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick wrote a letter to then-AG Bill Barr and the DOJ in July 2019 asking that they declare “Antifa” a “domestic terrorist organization”. This was at the same time that Ted Cruz (who had been photographed with Tarrio) introduced legislation in the Senate to do the same designation of “Antifa”. Just weeks before Cruz and Fitzpatrick weighed in on this, Enrique Tarrio had filed a petition on the White House website, asking for people to sign for making Antifa a domestic terrorist organization (Tarrio’s petition failed to get the minimum number of signatures within 30 days to trigger an official WH response) Fitzpatrick posted his Bill Barr letter request again a year later, in late May 2020, after the George Floyd murder and the BLM protests.

    [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. This, “JGC,” is your second user name; you commented as “jgcOCANADA” back in January. Your first name was compliant with our 8-letter minimum for usernames. I am revising your username here this once. Thanks. /~Rayne]

  5. Norskeflamthrower says:

    Beautifully and powerfully put together, thank you. Your work during this trial is an act of citizenship and courage. Because EW provided you the space to carry truth to us, I am contributing and hope that we hear more from you on this platform.

    • Brandi Buchman says:

      that makes me really happy! it has been a real privilege to write for ew and the readers here. honestly! thank you.

  6. Savage Librarian says:

    Brandi, I love the consistently cinematic quality of your writing. In terms of language and progression, your posts always flow like a well constructed film, even when there are no photos embedded. But when you do include photos, it is clear that you have an exceptional eye for choosing ones that enhance the entire post. Thanks for sharing your gifts with us!

  7. Fancy Chicken says:

    Thank you so much for your time covering the trial and your analysis. Before you came to Empty Wheel I found most all coverage of the Jan 6 trials to be rather meh. However, your reporting and analysis has been gripping reading and quite helpful in understanding the trial.

    You have been a real gift here. Now I hope you get to take a little self care time and then get back at it!

  8. wasD4v1d says:

    Locker room talk. I remember not liking locker room talk, so I took my 95 mph fastball and went home.

    • Brandi Buchman says:

      there are a few phrases i would like to retire from the English language and this is one of them. thanks for reading.

  9. Peregrine says:

    Heaping more plaudits on the esteemed Ms Buchman.

    And, also, a note of clarification for the puzzled. The “uhuru” thing is a misappropriation of the pan-Africanist movement slogan. As you can probably gather, it’s just more lib-pwning. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of sitting through an “Uhuru” song/ rap composes by some PB’s that I invested a few un-get-backable minutes of my one wild & precious life. I still regret my choices.

    • Brandi Buchman says:

      Thanks for reading and yes, they made much at trial about how it is the Swahili word for freedom. this appropriation was meant to be a reflection of their acceptance of diversity of some type as well as their profound love of liberty blah blah blah

      • Peregrine says:

        It’s the insult to your intelligence that gets you mad, but then again you remember that they’re probably going to prison this summer, while you’re going to the beach!

  10. Midtowngirl says:

    Brandi! Fantastic writing, as usual! Your talent for narrative makes for compelling reading – can’t wait to see more of your work in the future. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. Sending my appreciation via CashApp, and will be first in line for any book you publish!

  11. PeteT0323 says:

    Your commentary on looking into Tarrio’s eyes reminded me of the phrase – probably munged up by me here – that the “eyes are the window to the soul”.

    Variously , correctly or not, attributed to Bible verse which perhaps Peter is best to comment on.

    And maybe also a Shakespeare play for others to comment on.

    But, it is yet another “skill” that it looks like you have and one that will hopefully pay dividend to the lucky enterprise that will take you on – or maybe just you at large.

    Whatever, this you have endured is worth a book. Look forward to it.


  12. GSSH-FullyReduced says:

    Thanks Brandi.

    Seems like Tarrio shares a lot through the eyes of Roger Stone, someone MW calls a RatF*****.

    • Rayne says:

      Marcy may use the term of art but it goes back to Roger Stone’s salad days preceding and during the Nixon campaign and administration.

      The Proud Boys were blunt objects; it was the folks who manipulated them and the other aspects of the attempted autogolpe who were ratfucking. The fake electors was a ratfucking operation.

      • capitolhunters says:

        The Proud Boys aren’t all the same; they had different levels of understanding.

        Enrique Tarrio views himself as a junior Roger Stone, not a blunt object. He’s a user, not a tool to be used. And was savvy enough to get himself out of DC and let others be used.

        • ExRacerX says:

          “Savvy” enough to be arrested and convicted, you mean? Yeah, he’s a real fucking genius.

        • Rayne says:

          We’ll agree to disagree. Tarrio was used though he allowed himself willingly to be used as co-conspirator – he didn’t just show up at the White House on December 12, 2020 on a whim. The proof of concept about using white nationalist militia groups and sympathetic normies was April/May 2020, particularly the armed protest at Michigan’s state capitol. The crowd there was used by the DeVoses who funded organization of that rally.

          Nice to see you at emptywheel.

  13. Christopher Blanchard says:

    This is a very telling essay, and thank you Brandi. What occurs to me is that fascist action only really becomes dangerous when fascist leaders have the appropriate oratorical skills. Complications – First, that fascism is a crude hodge-podge of ideological bits and pieces, so their success doesn’t depend on coherence or rationality. Second, that appropriate oratory changes with the media, so that Karl Lueger could make un-microphoned speeches and start riots, Mussolini was a journalist first, and Hitler was a genius with the radio. That doesn’t change the essential point, which is that all of them had the kind of mad and persuasive self belief you seem to be describing in Tarrio, and that reminds me that the people we should fear are are those who’s self belief and access to currently effective media make them effective. That doesn’t mean Tarrio, but your description suggests the kinds of things we should be looking at.

  14. BobBobCon says:

    This is great stuff, and I think this is a particularly telling bit:

    “Not many reporters were covering the trial to begin with”

    At the end of the day, reporters don’t decide what they cover. Editors, producers, and execs do. And they’ve decided that allocating resources to add 0.01% more to the coverage of Trump leaving Florida to appear before Bragg was more important than covering this trial.

    Never mind that getting two seconds of a slightly different angle of a plane on a runway adds nothing to bottom line. That’s what they choose over gripping, substantial coverage that might actually build the corporate brand.

  15. David F. Snyder says:

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Brandi. Tarrio is playing politics. We can’t believe what he says is what he thinks; it’s mostly a calculation. Hence the “charm”, also just a tool for his persona. Everybody thought Ted Bundy was charming, too.

    As the Allen, Texas mall mass shooting shows, it’s a very fine line between “locker room talk” and madness.

    Moreover the Mandela angle shows the true world-view he’s addressing: the entitled “victim”hood of the neofascists as they feel the world shift beneath their feet. Tarrio can still be a dangerous person to our Constitutional government, even behind bars.

    Excellent reporting, Brandi.

  16. Clare Kelly says:

    Brandi Buchman wrote:

    “The charges start to lose some of their everyday meaning when you read them enough times in their cloying legalese. But stripped down, it is vital to understand the simple concept here. A jury found, save for one man of five, that the Proud Boys on Jan. 6, led by Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, decided their will should overtake the free will of millions of Americans who already cast their ballot against a candidate that Proud Boys preferred.”

    Like others here, I’m grateful for your powerful, visceral reportage which put us ‘in the room’.

    You’ve more than met the import and chilling nature of this moment in U.S. history: You’ve safely escorted us home.

    Thank you.

  17. Ravenclaw says:

    Beautifully written, thoughtful piece & one only you (as witness) could have written. Thanks.

    Personal opinion: Whether he calls it fascism or not, he knows that’s what he’s supporting. He knows he is ‘guilty’ of the conspiracy but does not accept the concept of guilt. The goal is power. There is no distinction, for him, between establishing a fascist regime and getting to raise hell, hurt people, etc. That’s the point of a fascist regime for a stormtrooper; you get to beat people up and live off the grift.

    I had a somewhat chilling moment reading his statement about how, in a dictatorship, some people are going to go to jail, etc. The thing inverted, and he was speaking of What Will Be when his people come to power, as in after winning the next election. Some of us will go to jail; the rest will be, not slaves exactly, but sheep in earnest. And the locker room boys will march.

  18. PieIsDamnGood says:

    I hope you’re working on a noir crime novel!

    I know it doesn’t really matter, but I desperately want to know what these guys actually believe. The difference between true believer and opportunistic narcist feels really important but is probably unknowable. Maybe even to themselves.

  19. David B Pittard says:

    I add to the praise of others – I like your writing style, thoughtful, meditative, reflective, and this one, also, decisive.

  20. Peter Blanche says:

    She is such a wonderful writer, each phrase more captivating than the next. Can’t wait to hear what is next for Brandi.

  21. StillHopeful says:

    As an outsider, I always try to carefully read analyses from those who witness the moment.

    I think back to my days as a post WWII kid reading Berlin Diary by William Shirer.

    Some years in the future, thanks to your reporting; a la Mr. Shirer, we may be able to reflect and understand this moment in the war between fascism and the concept of a Democratic Republic.

    Thank you for your endurance to take all this in and put into the words that allow us to picture in our minds the proceedings and associated activities.

    From your reporting, I somehow conclude that Mr Tarrio has consumed the cool-aid that allows him to think that when TFG wins in 2024 he will be pardoned and become elite.

    Hope I am wrong……..

  22. bgThenNow says:

    I’ll just add to the accolades, Brandi. Your skill in telling the tale as it unfolded, and the attention here to what might have otherwise been just a casual moment, his eyes (not a gaze), is not just compelling. Searching memories of a repertoire of personal history over time to center the feeling conveyed, is instructive. What does he believe vs: the pitch or pitches he makes for the sale. It is really hard for me to understand the grip TFG has over his minions, on display again the other night. I just don’t understand how the hucksterism plays. It is different for the Tarrios who may have other agendas, but the gullibility of the audience is astonishing after all this. Thank you for your work and for joining the stellar cast here.

  23. e.a. foster says:

    That is amazing. don’t think I’ve read anything this good in over 30 years. Thank you for writing this! The insight you provide is vitail for those of us who aren’t there. This post has given me a real insight to the defendant. Again thank you.

  24. Vinnie Gambone says:

    Interested in hearing your take (anyone’s) on the likelihood there will be a Hotel Willard trial. Will there every be one?

    If not these convictions, while necessary, are meaningless.

    Thanks for reporting.

    • Rayne says:

      What a crock. Who are you to determine the meaning or its absence in any conviction?

      Did these persons break the laws according to the indictment? A grand jury found there was sufficient evidence of criminal behavior and a jury found there was. That’s all that’s necessary for meaning.

      The Special Counsel is not yet done with their job which likely includes conspiracies which ran through the Willard. Find your patience and wait it out.

    • Clare Kelly says:

      “We build investigations by laying a foundation. We resolve more straightforward cases first because they provide the evidentiary foundation for more complex cases.”
      ~AG Garland
      January 5, 2022

      “We do not do our investigations in public. This is the most wide-ranging investigation and the most important investigation that the Justice Department has ever entered into…We have to get this right.”
      ~AG Garland
      July 20, 2022

      PB Seditious Conspiracy convictions are a very “meaningful” aspect of reckoning for me.

      I view your ‘if-then clause’, however ubiquitous, as mocking both logic and the diligent work carried on by journalists, analysts, and

      I am somewhat surprised, however, that any regular reader of emptywheel could genuinely posit:
      “If not these convictions, while necessary, are meaningless.”

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