Jan. 6 hearing spotlights role of Roger Stone as crucial link between Proud Boys and Trump

The seventh hearing of the January 6th Committee on Tuesday highlighted the role of political consultant Roger Stone, a longtime confidant of Donald Trump, as a link between the former president and the two leading extremist groups that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) noted that President Trump pardoned Stone, along with retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, in the weeks between the Nov. 3, 2020 election and Jan. 6. During the same period, Raskin said, “Stone communicated with both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers regularly.”

Raskin reported that the committee obtained encrypted chats from a private message group called “Friends of Stone,” or “FOS,” that included Stone, Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander that “focused on various pro-Trump events in November and December of 2020, as well as January 6th.”

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In one chat shared by the committee, Rhodes urged chat members who couldn’t make it to Washington, DC for a Nov. 14 Million MAGA March to attend local events to support the effort to overturn the election.

“Good point,” Rhodes wrote. “Anyone who won’t be in DC needs to be at their state Capitol.”

Grant Smith, an attorney who represents Stone, downplayed his client’s participation in the chat.

“Mr. Stone was included in the group chat by whomever established it at the time,” Smith said in an email to Raw Story. “Mr. Stone did not participate in any discussions in the chat and has no recollection of ever posting anything in the chat. If there had been any postings by Mr. Stone, the committee would have included them in the evidence presented, [and] there was nothing presented. Mr. Stone engaged in only legally protected, First Amendment activities.”

Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have since been indicted in separate seditious conspiracy cases, stemming from their activity on Jan. 6.

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The committee presented video showing that during the period when the “Friends of Stone” chat was active, Rhodes called on Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, and the Proud Boys became increasingly antagonistic towards the police.

“He needs to know from you that you are with him, that if he does not do it now while he is commander in chief, we’re going to have to do it later in a much more desperate, much more bloody war,” Rhodes said, addressing a crowd at the Jericho March in DC on Dec. 12. “Let’s get it on now, while he is still the commander in chief.”

In a separate video shown to the committee, Proud Boys angered at being prevented from assaulting leftwing counter-protesters can be seen taunting police, with one member named “Swamp Cracker” shouting, “Oath breakers! Do your f***ing job! Give us one hour.”

The committee also presented videotaped testimony from Kellye SoRelle, a Texas lawyer who serves as general counsel for the Oath Keepers, that pointed to Stone as one of the key figures, alongside Alexander and InfoWars host Alex Jones, in the rallies that built momentum for Jan. 6.

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“You mentioned that Mr. Stone wanted to start the Stop the Steal rallies,” the investigator said. “Who did you consider the leader of these rallies? It sounds like, from what you just said, it was Mr. Stone, Mr. Jones and Mr. Ali Alexander. Is that correct?”

“Those are the ones that became like the center point for everything,” SoRelle responded.

Beyond the “Friends of Stone” encrypted chat, Stone also appeared in public with Proud Boys leaders in the months leading up to the Jan. 6 attack.

A video from the night before the Dec. 12 rally, first reported by Just Security, shows Stone flanked by Tarrio and Nordean, both of whom would become top-tier leaders in the Ministry of Self-Defense group set up as a planning committee for Jan. 6 and now face seditious conspiracy charges. Introduced by Owen Schroyer, an InfoWars media performer who is charged with entering a restricted building or grounds for his activities on Jan. 6, Stone addressed an energetic crowd outside a DC hotel.

“We will fight to the bitter end for an honest recount of the 2020 election,” Stone said. “Never give up, never quit, never surrender, and fight for America!”

As Shroyer introduces him, Stone can be seen giving a friendly nod to Tarrio. Later, as Stone speaks, Nordean appears to place his hand on Stone’s shoulder.

Stone’s relationship with the Proud Boys goes back more than five years. As noted in a report prepared for the January 6th Committee by the Khalifa Ihler Institute, Stone was recorded reciting the “Proud Boys Fraternity Creed” in May 2017, which means he is considered a “1st degree” member according to the group’s custom.

So close were Stone and Tarrio that the Proud Boys national chairman had access to Stone’s phone in early 2019. When Stone got in trouble for tweeting an image of the federal judge presiding over his case next to an image of gun crosshairs, he reportedly disclosed to the court that he had been sent images by multiple volunteers, naming Tarrio alongside Florida Proud Boys founder Tyler Ziolkowski, and InfoWars reporter Jacob Engels. Stone reportedly disclosed to the court that Tarrio and Engels had spent time at his house.

Ties between the Proud Boys and Trump are more nebulous, but the extremist group was galvanized by Trump’s presidential debate statement, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” in response to a call for him to denounce extremists.

Proud Boys predictably responded ecstatically.

“Standing by sir,” Tarrio wrote on Parler.

Joe Biggs, who would also become a top-tier leader of the Ministry of Self-Defense and lead the Proud Boys to the Capitol along with Nordean, wrote, “Trump basically said to go f*** [antifa] up! This makes me so happy!”

On the day after the debate, Trump attempted to distance himself, telling reporters: “I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. You’ll have to give me a definition because I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work.”

Other reporting has suggested Trump and his inner circle were more aware of the Proud Boys than they publicly acknowledged.

When Proud Boys marched outside a venue during Trump’s reelection campaign launch in Orlando, Fla. in June 2019, New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel tweeted: “From a disillusioned GOP operative: ‘The Trump campaign is well aware of the organized participation of Proud Boys rallies merging into Trump events. They don’t care. Staff are treating it like a coalition they can’t talk about.”

On Dec. 12, 2020, before Proud Boys clashed with counter-protesters, Tarrio and Latinos for Trump president Biana Gracia received a tour of the White House.

“Last minute invite to an undisclosed location,” Tarrio wrote on Parler, displaying photos of the White House steps, according to a report in USA Today.

Tarrio’s host hinted at special access, but Gracia told reporter Will Carless that “the tour was arranged through channels open to anyone by applying via a member of Congress.” But she also hinted that she received an assist to ensure that the tour took place when they were in town for the pro-Trump rally.

“We received a little help from people,” she told the newspaper.

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