Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio said he was open to cutting a deal with prosecutors for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, but they were not “trying to get the truth.”
Instead, Tarrio said they were more focused on trying to get him to flip on former President Donald Trump.
According to The Washington Post, Tarrio, 39, had been through the federal criminal system before, for selling stolen medical supplies in Florida, and knew that those who cut a deal and plead guilty can receive significantly less prison time than those who stand trial.
“I was looking and seeking what the plea offer would look like, right?” Tarrio said in a phone interview with the Post from the D.C. jail.
“They didn’t want to give me a number,” he said, referring to the length of a possible prison sentence. “I need a number. To me the most important thing is when I get home to my family.”
Prosecutors were more interested in pushing him to implicate Trump in the Proud Boys’ attack of the Capitol, Tarrio said. Accompanied by FBI agents, prosecutors visited the Miami jail where Tarrio was being held at the time and showed him messages he exchanged with a second person, he told the Post. That person was connected to a third person, who was connected to Trump.
Tarrio told investigators he did not know the third person and refused to provide names of the people prosecutors said allegedly linked him to the former president.
“They weren’t trying to get the truth,” Tarrio said. “They were trying to coerce me into signing something that’s not true.”
The almost five-month trial failed to connect the Proud Boys and Trump, beyond a comment the then-president made during a presidential debate in 2020, in which he told the group to “stand back and stand by.”
Trump has not been charged with inciting the events of Jan. 6 and has denied any involvement with the attack.
In his interview with the Post, Tarrio said he should not have been charged with or convicted of leading “the tip of the spear,” as one judge said, in which one of the group’s members was filmed smashing a Capitol window with a police shield.
“I don’t think what Dominic Pezzola did was right,” Tarrio said of his co-defendant, who received a 10-year sentence partly for damaging the window. “I think it’s terrible what happened that day.”
When he arrived in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 4, 2021, the Proud Boys leader said he was arrested for previously burning a Black Lives Matter banner and was ordered not to enter the city. Tarrio told the Post that police confiscated his phone at that time and he bought a burner phone Jan. 5 after being released from jail, but was not able to activate it. He said he was at a hotel in Baltimore on Jan. 6.
Tarrio said he believed there was simply going to be a rally Jan. 6 and said he did not know “what instructions I would give somebody at that point … I’m not speaking. I have no function.”
He said there was “no communication,” but did post on Parler while the Proud Boys were inside the Capitol building, writing “Don’t f****** leave.” District Judge Timothy Kelly reminded Tarrio of his social media post multiple times during his sentencing last week.
If he were there, the Proud Boys would not have entered the Capitol that day, Tarrio told the Post, adding he was willing to support his members, though he did not believe the election had been stolen.
Tarrio and three of his lieutenants were ultimately convicted of seditious conspiracy and obstructing an official proceeding. Tarrio was sentenced to 22 years, the longest sentence yet imposed on any of the Jan. 6 defendants.
Nicole Wells ✉
Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.
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