Former President Donald Trump offered the Proud Boys another “call to arms” during his rally in Texas in February, according to a member of the House committee probing the Capitol insurgency. It’s coming out again due to the J6 hearings.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) was questioned on CNN whether Trump’s offer of pardons for Capitol rioters was “just bluster” or “witness tampering.”
“I have no idea what is in the president’s mind,” Lofgren responded.
“But I will say this: The other comments he made in that speech, basically calling out for demonstrations if anything adverse legally happens to him, is pretty extraordinary,” she added in reference to Trump’s call at a recent rally for massive protection if he is prosecuted.
“And I think it’s important to think through what message is being sent,” Lofgren said. “Clearly, there are a lot of Americans who like the former president, who voted for him, and who cheer him on. That’s their right. I don’t worry about that group of people. I do worry about the militias, some of these extremist groups.”
“Remember in his debate when he said ‘stand (back) and stand by,’ Proud Boys?” Lofgren said. “They had a key role in organizing that (Capitol) riot, and I think when they hear that from the former president, they hear a call to arms. So I do think we are in very dangerous territory with this rhetoric, and those of us who are against chaos, those of us who believe in law and order, need to speak up strongly against this trend the former president is encouraging.”
The Proud Boys may not be as interested in listening to anything from Donald Trump these days.
Trump is contending that he is not responsible for the violent activities taken by his supporters in an attempt to have a lawsuit accusing him of instigating the Jan. 6 riot at the United States Capitol dismissed.
“Speakers at political rallies do not owe a duty of care to members of Congress or Capitol Police Officers not at the rally,” Trump’s lawyer Jesse Binnall said in court papers filed on Dec. 24.
Trump’s supporters said that his remarks on Jan. 6 were within the president’s prerogative to “take advantage of the bully pulpit.”
“The complaint, which also names right-wing groups like the Proud Boys, alleges many of the defendants ‘planned, aided, and actively participated in that attack’ and that ‘all defendants are responsible for it,’” Bloomberg reports.
In the filing, Trump argued that he “acted responsibly” during the speech and that he had “simply called for peaceful and patriotic demonstrations.” Trump also denies that he was threatening violence when he said it was “a very dangerous moment in our history” and that people are “not going to stand having this election stolen from them.”
“Under no stretch of the imagination can those statements be characterized as open threats of violence,” he said in the filing.
In a Dec. 24 filing in the same court, Zachary Rehl, who led the Proud Boys’ Philadelphia branch until his arrest in connection with the disturbance, said the complaint falsely accuses his group of racism, pointing out that the national organization is run by a Black man, Enrique Tarrio.
“An organization could not long hold on to any racists or white supremacists while being led by a Black immigrant from Cuba and proudly proclaiming their open policy of inclusion of members of all races and even sexual orientation,” Rehl said in the filing.
Eight Capitol Police officers filed the lawsuit in August, alleging that they were assaulted on January 6.
Back in late November, The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob issued subpoenas to the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and other organizations as it looks into the reasons for the insurgency.