Capitol riot probe turns to extremist groups linked to attack

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol has subpoenaed leaders of militia groups linked to the riot.

The subpoenas announced Tuesday were issued to Oath Keepers founder Elmer Stewart Rhodes, a former Army paratrooper and Yale Law graduate; Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, who was chairman of the Proud Boys at the time; and Robert Patrick Lewis, chairman of a group that calls itself 1st Amendment Praetorian.

The committee also seeks records in the Lewis subpoena from his group, while two other subpoenas seek documents from the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys International, LLC.

“We believe the individuals and organizations we subpoenaed today have relevant information about how violence erupted at the Capitol and the preparation leading up to this violent attack,” committee Chair Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said in a statement.

The Jan. 6 panel has previously said it wanted to explore whether there was coordination or financial ties between organizers of rallies held on Jan. 6 and extremist groups.

Some members of those groups dressed in tactical military gear such as vests and helmets as they gathered with die-hard supporters of former President Donald Trump and forcibly entered the Capitol, seeking to stop Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.

The committee said that 18 members of the Oath Keepers have been indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly planning a coordinated attack on the Capitol, including by traveling to Washington with paramilitary gear and supplies. The committee said Rhodes “repeatedly suggested the Oath Keepers should engage in violence to ensure their preferred election outcome,” and that he was in contact with some of those charged in the violence before, during and after the Capitol siege.

At least 34 people affiliated with the Proud Boys have been indicted by the Justice Department, according to the panel. Tarrio is serving a five-month term in the Washington jail in connection with a separate violent protest shortly after Trump lost the election. Tarrio was prevented from entering the city on Jan. 6 but allegedly was involved in the group’s preparations, according to the committee.

The panel said Lewis was listed as a speaker at a rally held a day before the riot and that on Jan. 6 he tweeted: “Today is the day that true battles begin.”

The subpoenas instruct the three men, the Oath Keepers organization and the Proud Boys group to produce documentation for the committee by Dec. 7. Rhodes has been told to appear for a deposition on Dec. 14, Tarrio on Dec. 15 and Lewis on Dec. 16.

The subpoenas Tuesday represent a new front in the congressional probe intended to get a clearer picture of the events surrounding the attack, which so far publicly has focused mostly on the actions of former President Trump and his aides and backers.

Committee members say they and their staff already have interviewed more than 200 witnesses, many under subpoena, including other Trump allies and former aides. Little has been revealed about what the committee has learned.

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