Proud Boy lawyer questions whether Congress certifying the presidential election counts as an 'official proceeding'

Many of the perpetrators of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol have been charged with the federal crime of "obstructing an official proceeding" of Congress because their attack was intended to disrupt the counting of electors to confirm the victory of President Joe Biden.

But according to the Seattle Times, the attorney for one of the attackers, Seattle-area Proud Boy Ethan Nordean, is trying a novel approach by questioning whether the counting of electors really counts as an "official proceeding."

"During a nearly two-hour hearing Tuesday before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, a lawyer for Ethan Nordean argued to Judge Timothy J. Kelly that government prosecutors have misapplied criminal charges against Nordean and three co-defendants under a part of federal criminal law aimed to protect 'official proceedings' from interference," reported Lewis Kamb. "Congress's act to certify Electoral College votes from a presidential election doesn't qualify as an 'official proceeding,' attorney Nicholas Smith argued, because a bevy of case law has defined such proceedings as events involving an investigative purpose or truth-finding inquiry."

Kelly was not convinced by this argument, noting that an official proceeding can be anything "where you have a presiding official gaveling in," the houses of Congress.

Nordean, who was placed under house arrest earlier this year after allegedly leading a swarm of Proud Boys through Washington, D.C. to the Capitol, has reportedly been reduced to raising money online as he struggles "making ends meet."

The Proud Boys, a self-styled "Western Chauvinist" group with ties to white supremacy, played a key role in the Capitol riot, with several members being charged for their involvement.