Five Proud Boys plan to subpoena former President Donald Trump as they face seditious conspiracy charges for their role in 2021′s Jan. 6 insurrection, a New York Times journalist reported this week.
The defendants — including Enrique Tarrio, the far-right group’s longtime chairman — “intend to subpoena Donald Trump as a witness at the trial,” tweeted reporter Alan Feuer.
It’s not immediately clear why they want Trump on the witness stand. Other Jan. 6 defendants, however, have said they stormed the U.S. Capitol because they thought it was what Trump wanted, which they believed may have legitimized the riot.
But a request for Trump to be subpoenaed hasn’t been granted in other Jan. 6 trials, noted Feuer.
A judge in the current Proud Boys case, however, has already ruled that prosecutors can play a video at the trial of Trump telling the group to “stand back and stand by” during a televised debate with then-presidential candidate Joe Biden in 2020. The startling comment was widely regarded as a message for the Proud Boys to be ready to take action if called to do so by Trump.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly is allowing the video because he said the former president’s comments showed “an additional motive” for the Proud Boys to “advocate for Mr. Trump [and] engage in the charged conspiracy” to keep him in power.
Sabino Jauregui, an attorney representing Tarrio, alleged that the true culprit of the insurrection was Trump, but said that it’s “too hard to blame” him since any charges would be battled by an “army of lawyers,” The Guardian reported Sunday.
“It’s easier to blame … the Proud Boys,” Jauregui said, describing Tarrio and other defendants as mere “scapegoats.”
On Monday, four members of the right-wing Oath Keepers were convicted of seditious conspiracy for their roles in the insurrection. They could face up to 20 years in prison when sentenced.
Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes, meanwhile, was convicted in November of seditious conspiracy.
The Proud Boys have all pleaded not guilty to the same charge.