Republicans like Sen. Ron “RonAnon” Johnson of Wisconsin are attempting to rewrite the facts about the deadly Jan. 6 insurrectionist riot at the U.S. Capitol. They’re now saying that those who marched up Constitution Avenue that day were just a group of “mostly jovial” overweight, frail and elderly patriots. Federal prosecutors beg to differ.
On Monday they revealed details of the elaborate plot developed and executed by the far-right group Proud Boys to overwhelm police, breach the Capitol and derail the Electoral College vote certification. They allege that a Washington state leader of the Proud Boys, Ethan Nordean, was nominated by members of the group to lead and coordinate the assault. Prosecutors asked a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to keep Nordean, who was arrested Feb. 3, in jail pending trial. He is charged with aiding and abetting the destruction of government property, obstructing an official proceeding, trespassing and disorderly conduct on restricted Capitol grounds. Those charges include an offense of violence and a charge defined as a federal crime of terrorism, destroying property to intimidate or coerce the government. The offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Prosecutors allege that Nordean was “nominated from within to have ‘war powers'” to lead group’s activities at the Capitol. They say he planned and led the group by stationing Proud Boys members at an entrance to the Capitol that was guarded by only a handful of Capitol Police officers. He also allegedly directed them to different locations on the Capitol grounds to avoid arousing police attention and equipped them with military-style gear and encrypted two-way Chinese-made Baofeng radios.
“By blending in and spreading out, Defendant and those following him on January 6 made it more likely that either a Proud Boy — or a suitably-inspired ‘normie’ [nonmilitant Trump supporter] — would be able to storm the Capitol and its ground in such a way that would interrupt [Congress’s] Certification of the Electoral College vote,” prosecutors said.
Another of Nordean’s leadership activities, prosecutors said, was communicating online to gather tactical vests, armored plates, bear spray and donations to pay for the gear.
The prosecutors also asserted that Nordean led the group by positioning Proud Boys members — carrying encrypted two-way Chinese-made Baofeng radios and wearing military-style gear — at an entrance to the Capitol grounds that was guarded by only a handful of Capitol Police officers and spreading out others to different locations to avoid triggering police interest.