- Rep. Zoe Lofgren interrupted the testimony of Enrique Tarrio of the Proud Boys in the Capitol.
- The California Democrat asked Tarrio why he once called her an insult to women on Telegram.
- The exchange is just one of many bizarre moments in Tarrio’s newly released deposition transcript.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren had just one question for Enrique Tarrio, according to transcripts of the ex-Proud Boys leader’s testimony before the House Inquiry Committee on Jan. 6, 2021.
Why, the California Democrat wanted to know, did you call me the “C word” on your Telegram channel?
Their brief exchange — Tarrio would claim ignorance of the insult, and Lofgren would jump right out of the virtual testimony — is just one of several bizarre moments from a newly released transcript of Tarrio’s long cricket earlier this spring before the House of Representatives committee.
Tarrio is standing trial in US District Court in Washington, DC, defending himself against charges of seditious conspiracy related to the attack. The opening speech and testimony is expected to begin in the first week of January.
The 231-page transcript released Wednesday night hints at Tarrio’s upcoming defense.
It shows him portraying the Proud Boys — defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group and by the FBI as an extremist group — as a sort of arbitrary, decentralized Rotary club.
Members — Tarrio said he couldn’t even tell the committee roughly how many — rose to the highest ranks through “good works,” as he put it, like “a bicycle and a toy ride at Christmas.”
“The Proud Boys didn’t make a fuss. They don’t. They drink,” Tarrio’s attorney Dan Hull said at one point during the testimony, calling them “a satirical type of silly bunch of people.”
“It’s like, ‘Don’t believe your eyes that lie,'” Jon Lewis, a research fellow at George Washington University’s extremism program, told Insider after reviewing the transcript Thursday.
“It’s like, ‘You couldn’t have actually seen us do what we did on January 6th because we’re a good organization, just a bunch of people who like to get together and have beers,'” Lewis said.
Federal prosecutors have a different take on the Proud Boys, saying the five defendants and over 200 members who showed up that day were the brutal spearhead of the attack.
Tarrio’s co-defendant Dominic “Spaz” Pezzola, a lieutenant in the Proud Boys of Rochester, New York, is accused of first breaking into the Capitol by smashing a window with a security shield that was forcibly stolen from a Capitol officer.
Pezzola then boasted that he would have killed then-Vice President Mike Pence if given the chance, federal authorities claim.
With 160 known chapters across the country, the extremist hate group remains active, Emily Kaufman, a researcher with the Anti-Defamation League, told Insider.
They have been active during Pride Month in the summer and have been rioters at LGBTQ events during the winter break, particularly Drag Queen Story Hours hosted in schools and libraries, she said.
“We would have expected them to be decimated by these arrests,” Kaufman said of the more than 40 Proud Boys charged in the Capitol attack. “Instead, they found this niche.”
Lofgren, a vocal member of the Jan. 6 committee, appears about a quarter of Tarrio’s testimony on page 51 of the transcript.
“I see that Ms. Lofgren is on video,” a lawyer for the committee, whose name has been blacked out, reportedly said. “Mrs. Lofgren, do you have a question?”
“Well, I have a quick question,” the congresswoman replied.
“Mr. Tarrio,” she told him. “I received a copy of a mail from you, and it is ‘Enrique’s House of Propaganda’ from your – ‘Tarrio’s Telegram’.”
The House of Propaganda channel has since been shut down, said Lewis of George Washington University.
“And it’s a picture of me holding a piece of paper to a microphone on the Judiciary Committee, and the caption of you is, ‘That — I’ll spell it, cunt — is blind in one eye.'”
“I wonder,” she said, “what did you mean by that?”
Tarrio replied: “Wish I could reference the post Ms – how do you pronounce your name? I am sorry.”
“Lofgren,” the congresswoman replied.
“Lofgren,” Tarrio repeated. “I wish I could – I wish I had this in front of me where I could see it.”
He then promised to “look into it” and get back to the committee.
He then said he didn’t know if he wrote the post.
“There are several people running Telegram channels, including mine in particular,” he said.
“All right,” Lofgren said. “I give back.”
At this point, she apparently left the video testimony. But a few pages later, the committee’s attorney returned.
“So you called Ms. Lofgren,” that insult? asked the lawyer.
“No,” Tarrio replied. “I don’t even remember typing that.”
“So someone using your account called Ms. Lofgren,” the insult? asked the committee’s attorney.
“Like, I – I mean, I said that before. This account is managed by many people.”
At this point, Tarrio’s lawyer stepped in.
“What does it mean to be called that word?” he asked.
“It’s a word that’s been around in London since the 13th century. It’s not a very pretty word to a lot of people, but—”
Here Tarrio, his client, obviously interested, interrupted him: “You know the history of this word?”
“Yes,” said the lawyer to his client, “unfortunately.”
A brief back-and-forth ensued, with both Tarrio and his attorney complaining about the lack of “context” in Lofgren’s investigation into the use of the word by – someone.
“Does the context matter?” asked the committee’s attorney.
“I just don’t understand why this is such a big deal,” Tarrio’s attorney said, dismissing Telegram as “just some kind of really bad Irish bar scene.”
In other testimonies, Tarrio told the committee there was nothing reprehensible in then-President Donald Trump’s response to what he wanted to say to white supremacist groups during the September 2020 presidential debate: “Proud boys, stand back and stand by.”
Trump, Tarrio suggested, encouraged the Proud Boys to prepare for the election through nonviolent actions, “like, ‘Let’s have a rally!'”
Tarrio told committee members, “I took it like, ‘Hey, the election is coming up.
“I also think he was like, ‘Stand by me as President,’ like I’ve never failed.”
Lewis countered that members of the extremist group viewed “stand back and stand by” as a “call to arms.” A Proud Boy member testified before the committee that membership “tripled” as a result of Trump’s remark.
“They didn’t see that as, ‘Oh, hey, we got a reputation on TV. We should make sure we go vote,'” Lewis told Insider.
The transcript shows Tarrio alternating between pleading for the Fifth, which he did more than a dozen times, and offering detailed tangential observations.
These included that he’s “not a big Obama fan because of the socialized health care” and that Trump was “a great president” who “said it how he felt” and “didn’t give us more wars.”
“I don’t think January 6 should have happened,” Tarrio said.
“I wish I could — I wish I could get in a time machine and stand in front of the police line and talk to the people in front of that line and say, ‘Don’t do it.’
“I wish I could do that,” said Tarrio, who said he still considers himself a Proud Boy, the committee. “I can not.”
Federal prosecutors tell a different story. They quoted Tarrio in an encrypted chat channel as saying: “Make no mistake.
“Do it again,” the FBI says, Tarrio chatted two hours later when his lieutenants asked him what to do next.
Tarrio’s Feb. 4 testimony came just three days after he was released from a Washington, DC jail for burning the banner of a historic Black Lives Matter church. It was just a month before his arrest in March in connection with the Capitol attack.
The Proud Boys seditious conspiracy trial follows Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes’ seditious conspiracy conviction in November and is expected to last approximately six weeks.