The lawyer for an arrested top leader of the extremist Proud Boys stated in a court filing Monday that Donald Trump “egged on” U.S. Capitol rioters last month.
The statement was filed the day before Trump’s Senate trial on “incitement of insurrection” on behalf of Seattle bodybuilder Ethan Nordean, the self-described “sergeant at arms” of the violent gang.
Another court filing Monday in a separate case on behalf of alleged insurrectionist Patrick McCaughey of Connecticut described Trump as a “de facto unindicted co-conspirator” in the Capitol riots that claimed five lives.
The FBI has accused Nordean — also known as Rufio Panman — of allegedly plotting with other Proud Boys to storm the Capitol.
Nordean has been charged with attempting to obstruct Congress’s certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He was also charged with aiding and abetting, knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
“Mr. Nordean’s beliefs, as set out in the Complaint and the memorandum, were not unique,” Nordean’s public defender, Corey Endo, stated in the pretrial filing in U.S. District Court in Seattle seeking his release.
“Thousands of people descended on Washington, D.C., on January 6 to protest the result of the 2020 presidential election. Egged on by Donald Trump, other politicians, his legal advocates, and the news media these people believed the election had been stolen,” the defense added. “Hundreds, if not thousands, of people entered the Capitol building as Mr. Nordean is alleged to have done.”
Nordean remained in custody Monday evening pending his trial after the Department of Justice appealed a judge’s earlier decision to release him.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jehiel Baer had pointed out Friday that in the days before the riot, Nordean boasted on social media: “Let them remember the day they decided to make war with us,” adding: “Fight we will.”
“There is no reason to believe that Defendant, or any of his Proud Boy associates, are any more interested in ‘complacency,’ or any less interested in fomenting rebellion,” Baer argued in a court memo.
Nordean was videotaped with his hand on the shoulder of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone during an inflammatory “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington in December. Also on stage was Proud Boys head Enrique Tarrio.
“Never give up, never quit, never surrender and fight for America!” Stone told the crowd then.
In a keynote speech in Freedom Plaza the night before the storming of the Capitol, Stone called the battle against American voters’ choice for president an “epic struggle for the future of this country … between the godly and the godless.”
Stone was able to be out on the street revving up protesters because Trump granted clemency to Stone and eventually pardoned him last year after he was convicted of seven felonies, including lying in congressional testimony and witness tampering in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russia in the 2016 election.
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