Everything We Know About The ‘Underground Parking Garage’ Meeting Between The Leaders Of The Oath Keepers And Proud Boys On The Night Before January 6
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UPDATE: You can read more details about this meeting — and investigator’s interest in it — in this piece I published for Rolling Stone.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department indicted Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the former national chairman of the “Proud Boys,” and other members of the group’s leadership with conspiracy and other charges related to the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol building. In the indictment, prosecutors described a meeting between Tarrio and Stewart Rhodes, the founder and former leader of the Oath Keepers militia group that took place the day before the Capitol was stormed. According to the indictment, the meeting took place in an “underground parking garage” and lasted “approximately 30 minutes.”
“During this encounter, a participant referenced the Capitol,” the indictment said.
The parking garage meeting would be notable since, according to prosecutors, the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys are two groups that played a major role in the violence on January 6. Rhodes and ten other Oath Keepers members were charged with seditious conspiracy in a separate indictment that said the group’s leaders set up “Quick Reaction Forces” to potentially bring guns into Washington D.C. from outside the city on January 6, 2021 as supporters of former President Trump protested the certification of his 2020 election loss at the Capitol. In total, over 20 Oath Keepers members are facing charges relating to the storming of the Capitol building that day.
The Proud Boys are a self-described “Western chauvinist” right wing group that has supported Trump. Five alleged Proud Boys leaders, who had been previously charged, were named along with Tarrio in a superseding indictment by the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia on Wednesday. That indictment accused the group of, among other things, encouraging the Proud Boys to come to Washington for the January 6 demonstrations, telling group members to stay “incognito” and avoid wearing their trademark black and gold colors, working to obtain “paramilitary gear and supplies” for the protests, and “directing, mobilizing, and leading members of the crowd onto Capitol grounds and into the Capitol.” While Tarrio was not in Washington on January 6, the other five Proud Boys leaders are accused of being among the crowds who battled law enforcement and broke into the Capitol building.
Jon Moseley, an attorney for Rhodes, confirmed to The Uprising that his client met with Tarrio on January 5, 2021. However, Moseley insisted the pair did not discuss plans for the pro-Trump demonstrations at the Capitol at their meeting.
“That part is absolutely false,” Moseley wrote in an email to The Uprising. “The only thing that was discussed was that Enrique Tarrio had just made bail and was looking for ideas on getting a lawyer.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia did not respond to a request for comment. The indictment against Tarrio and the other alleged Proud Boys leaders is part of the Justice Department’s criminal investigation into January 6, which is separate from the House select committee that is also investigating the attack. According to the Justice Department, over 775 individuals have been arrested “for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, including over 245 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement.” The House select committee is set to hold public hearings on its investigation as early as next month.
On December 12, 2020, roughly three weeks before the meeting with Rhodes, Tarrio was in Washington along with other Proud Boys members who participated in a “Million MAGA” march to protest Trump’s election loss. That night, according to the indictment, Tarrio and other Proud Boys members were involved in the “destruction” of a #BLACKLIVESMATTER” banner that hung from a historic African American D.C. church. Tarrio was subsequently arrested on January 4, 2021, and charged with destruction of property and possession of two large capacity magazines, which are illegal in the nation’s capital. Tarrio ultimately pleaded guilty to a “reduced charge of attempting to possess a high-capacity ammunition magazine” in conjunction with that case.
According to the indictment related to the Capitol attack, after his arrest, Tarrio “was released at approximately 5 p.m. on January 5, after having been ordered to leave the District of Columbia.”
“Tarrio did not immediately comply with the order to leave the District of Columbia,” the indictment stated. “After being turned away from the Phoenix Park Hotel, Tarrio traveled to a nearby underground parking garage, where he met with Elmer Stewart Rhodes III, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers.”
That hotel was roughly a half mile from the Capitol. Moseley, Rhodes’ lawyer, told The Uprising he has also represented at least one of the Proud Boys who was indicted along with Tarrio. According to Moseley, Tarrio came to that meeting looking for legal help from Kellye SoRelle, who was the Oath Keepers’ general counsel. Along with his role in the Proud Boys, Tarrio was the Florida state director of “Latinos For Trump,” an organization that supported the former president during the last election while being unaffiliated with his campaign. SoRelle also served as an attorney for “Latinos for Trump.”
“Tarrio is Cuban and a member of the Latinos for Trump aspect of the January 6 demonstrations,” Moseley wrote in an email. “As a result, people in that group reached out to Oath Keeper corporate counsel (at the time) Kellye Soirrelle [sic] (along with others) seeking ideas for a lawyer for Tarrio.”
Moseley said that Rhodes and SoRelle met with Tarrio on January 5, 2021 as they “happened” to be in “the same parking garage.”
“As it happened, Stewart Rhodes with Kellye Soirrelle [sic] was getting ready to leave a parking garage when she learned that Enrique Tarrio with Latinos for Trump leaders was entering the same parking garage on the ground floor,” Moseley wrote. “They were asked do you want to come meet Enrique Tarrio? Rhodes and Soirrelle answered (in my words) why not?”
SoRelle did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dan Hull, an attorney who has represented Tarrio and other Proud Boys members, also did not respond. In January, on an Instagram account that appears to belong to him, Hull put up a post arguing the Proud Boys are quite distinct from the Oath Keepers.
“Proud Boys and The Oathkeepers are WAY different from each other. Way. One’s a working-class frat. One’s a demented militia. One is playful and fun. The other is paranoid and nuts,” the Instagram post said. “Learn the difference, folks.”
In the indictment, prosecutors alleged that “beginning in late December 2020,” Tarrio helped set up a “new chapter for the Proud Boys” that was “referred to as the Ministry of Self Defense or MOSD.” According to the indictment, the “MOSD” was referred to by Tarrio as a “national rally planning” chapter. The indictment included alleged quotes from MOSD group chats and social media posts from Tarrio and other Proud Boys leaders. In one message that was allegedly posted on an unnamed site as the Capitol was being stormed on January 6, the prosecutors quoted Tarrio boasting about the group’s role.
“Make no mistake,” Tarrio allegedly wrote. “We did this.”