Five elements of the far-right group Proud Boys, accused of having tried to prevent the transition of power in the United States during the invasion of the Capitol, on January 6, 2021, admit to asking the Department of Justice to subpoena the former US President , Donald Trump, testifying as a witness at his trial.
“President Trump told these people that the election had been stolen, and he was the one who sent the crowd towards the Capitol,” said lawyer Sabino Jauregui, one of the representatives of Enrique Tarrio – the president of the Proud Boys and one of the five members of the group accused of seditious conspiracy.
It is not the first time that Trump has been subpoenaed to testify as a witness in a trial of people who participated in the invasion of the Capitol, but previous attempts have not been successful and it is very difficult for the judge in the Proud Boys case to decide differently.
So far, judges in the various cases have said that the advantages of Trump’s eventual appearance at trial as a witness outweigh the disadvantages – with emphasis on the risk that the processes become even slower and more complex.
In February 2022, a judge turned down a similar request made on behalf of another defendant, Dustin Thomson.
At that time, the judge said that any testimony from the former US President would not serve to excuse Thomson’s actions on January 6, 2021. Last November, Thomson – a defendant who based his defense on the idea that he invaded the Capitol in compliance with an order by Trump — was sentenced to three years in prison.
In the case of the Proud Boys, and as happened last year, the judge is unlikely to accept Trump’s subpoena; and it is equally unlikely that the Justice Department will want to collaborate with the defendants’ attorneys in a subpoena process, because of the risk that the trial will drag on for many months.
Even if the subpoena is served, Trump has several options for opposing the order on the basis of executive privilege or separation of powers; and he may also remain silent if he is forced to appear in court, citing the risk of self-incrimination at a time when he is being investigated, by the Department of Justice, in separate lawsuits related to the invasion of the Capitol.
At stake are a series of public statements by Trump and thousands of private messages that were exchanged between elements of the Proud Boys – before, during and after the invasion of the Capitol. Unlike hundreds of other Trump supporters who participated in the attack, the Proud Boys were in contact with members of the former US President’s team after the 2020 presidential election.
On September 30, 2020, during the first televised debate with the Democratic Party candidate, Joe Biden, Trump addressed the Proud Boys directly when he was asked to denounce the support he had received from far-right groups: “Proud Boys , fall back and be ready.”
In the minutes and hours that followed, the Proud Boys’ message groups were filled with expressions of delight for Trump’s words, which were understood as a statement of support for the group, according to an investigation by the New York Times.
Weeks later, on December 19, 2020, the then President of the USA announced, on the social network Twitter, the holding of a demonstration in Washington DC, scheduled for the day when the two chambers of Congress would meet for the count ceremony. of the presidential election votes: “Big demonstration in DC on January 6th. Don’t miss it, it’s going to be crazy!”