As the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol continues to dig ever deeper into the circumstances that led up to that violent rioting, Reuters is now reporting that the FBI is now taking a close look at a meeting that took place the day before the events of that day to determine whether right-wing extremist groups engaged in coordination and conspiracy in planning the incursion into Congress.
The meeting reportedly took place in a Washington DC garage adjacent to the Phoenix Park Hotel on January 5th, 2021, and among those in attendance were then-Proud Boys Chairman Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.
The encounter between the two leaders of notorious right-wing extremist militia groups on the day before the violent insurrection has led to speculation that the level of cooperation and planning between the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and other radical militia groups like the Three Percenters amounted to a seditious conspiracy to disrupt the certification of the electoral vote count that handed Joe Biden his legitimate victory in the 2020 presidential election.
Both Tarrio and Rhodes acknowledge having met each other in the garage, but deny that the meeting had any nefarious purpose or that they had any conversations that could be construed as coordinated advance planning for the events of January 6th.
According to Reuters:
“Tarrio told Reuters last June that his meeting at the garage with Rhodes was unplanned and not significant. “By coincidence,” Tarrio said, “he was inside … that parking garage.” He said he shook hands with Rhodes solely to be polite. “He’s here, I’m not going to not shake somebody’s hand.” He has denied any Proud Boys planning ahead of January 6.”
An attorney for Stewart Rhodes — who is already facing charges of seditious conspiracy due to his activities surrounding the insurrection — emailed Reuters with a statement claiming that “there was no coordination” between the Oath Keepers leader and his Proud Boy counterpart.
Michael Simmons, an associate of Rhodes who spent much of January 6th with him, expressed surprise when Reuters told him of the previous day’s encounter.
Simmons claims that Rhodes was no fan of the Proud Boys, having expressed criticism of both Tarrio and the organization he led.
“Why would you meet Enrique in a fucking parking garage?” Simmons said. “It just blows my mind. That’s crazy!”
Still, evidence of coordination between the two groups and other goon squads has surfaced previously.
Prosecutors investigating another member of the Oath Keepers indicted for his participation in the insurrection came across a Facebook post that described a separate gathering before the Stop the Steal riots.
“This week I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida 3%ers, and Proud Boys,” the post read according to a court filing in his case.
Enrique Tarrio himself never made it to the Capitol on January 6th because immediately before the meeting in the parking garage he had been ordered by a judge to leave Washington DC until his next court appearance in a case that had led him to spend the previous evening in a city jail on charges of burning a BLM flag in a previous demonstration weeks earlier.
Tarrio — who faced criticism in extremist circles when it was revealed that he had been an FBI informant and who has reportedly stepped down from his position as chairman of The Proud Boys earlier this year — eventually served almost six months in prison for the flag burning and weapons charges.
Tarrio should consider himself lucky that his banishment from Washington DC on January 6th kept him from doing anything that could have led to further indictments and prison sentences, at least so far.
With federal prosecutors pouring over Stewart Rhodes’ subpoenaed electronic communications for his seditious conspiracy trial, any further evidence of coordination between the Oath Keepers and other militant groups is likely to soon be uncovered.
If Enrique Tarrio did conspire with the Oath Keepers, he should be held as accountable as the other seditionists responsible for the insurrection.
Original reporting by Aram Roston at Reuters.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.