Two individuals associated with the Trump White House were in contact with a far-right nationalist group just days before its members prepared to storm the U.S. Capitol.
Late Friday, The New York Times reported that Enrique Tarrio, a leader of the Proud Boys, called Trump associate Roger Stone less than a week before the attack.
The flamboyant Stone, pardoned by then-President Trump during his last month in office, has extensive ties to extremist groups; the revelation that he connected with Tarrio is consistent with a long history of unsavory rabble-rousing. But The Times reports that a second Trump associate was in contact with the Proud Boys as they planned to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election. The Justice Department has charged more than a dozen members of the Proud Boys with crimes related to the Capitol insurrection.
According to The Times, law enforcement agencies have obtained cell phone records proving the additional link between the Trump White House and the Proud Boys. The Times did not report which Trump associate communicated with the far-right nationalist group or what was discussed.
But Tarrio has described his contact with Stone in detail. While at a protest in front of Sen. Marco Rubio’s house, the Proud Boy leader called Stone and put him on speakerphone to address the crowd. Tarrio was arrested days later for burning a Black Lives Matter flag at a historic Black church in Washington D.C.
Stone was convicted of multiple charges related to the Mueller investigation before being pardoned by his long-time client Donald Trump. In recent months, Stone has received personal protection from the Oath Keepers, a militia group primarily comprised of former law enforcement and military veterans.
The Times adds that telecommunication and technology companies are cooperating with investigators as they try to piece together who planned the Capitol insurrection, who participated in it, and if organizers received assistance from members of Congress or members of the Trump administration.
From The Times article:
Although investigators have found no contact between the rioters and members of Congress during the attack, those records have shown evidence in the days leading up to Jan. 6 of communications between far-right extremists and lawmakers who were planning to appear at the rally featuring Mr. Trump that occurred just before the assault, according to one of the officials.
The Justice Department is examining those communications, but it has not opened investigations into any members, the official said. A department spokesman declined to comment.
On Thursday, the FBI arrested a State Department official, appointed to the position after working for the Trump campaign in 2016, for participating in the January 6th violence.