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Video released of Oath Keepers, Proud Boys leaders meeting 24 hours before January 6 attack

By Hannah Rabinowitz and Holmes Lybrand, CNN

The Justice Department on Tuesday released new videos of a now-infamous meeting between Enrique Tarrio and Stewart Rhodes — the leaders of the two most prominent extremist organizations connected to January 6 — that took place in a Washington, DC, hotel garage just 24 hours before the attack.

The six videos were released after CNN and other media outlets sued for access.

Few details of what was discussed at the meeting had previously been made public, and the discussions between Rhodes, Tarrio and others have become a point of contention between prosecutors and defense lawyers.

The videos follow Tarrio as he leaves the DC jail (he was arrested earlier that day for burning a Black Lives Matter flag in December), to the underground garage, and then on his drive out of the district.

In videos of the underground garage meeting, which were shot by a documentary film crew, Tarrio can be seen introducing himself to Rhodes and talking with Latinos for Trump President Bianca Gracia. Also present at the meeting, according to the videos, was the founder of Vets for Trump, Joshua Macias. Neither Gracia and Macias have been charged with a crime related to January 6.

Lawyers for Tarrio and Rhodes have both called the meeting a chance encounter involving a short discussion about Tarrio’s recent arrest. Tarrio’s lawyers have argued the video shows there wasn’t a broader conspiracy and that the evidence supports his bid to be released from jail. A judge has not yet ruled on his request to be released on bail.

The conversations between those at the meeting only briefly touch on January 6, the videos show. In one video, Tarrio explains to Gracia that he was ordered to leave DC immediately “because they don’t want me to go to tomorrow’s event.” But, Tarrio says, he would “stay close” to DC “just to make sure my guys are okay.”

According to prosecutors, the videos show how Tarrio was seeking to “communicate with his guys” and regain control of the Proud Boys’ plans for January 6, 2021. Prosecutors also say the video shows Tarrio was concerned about whether he had “locked down” his phone and laptop.

“They kept my phone and my laptop,” Tarrio said to Gracia in one video. “My laptop doesn’t have anything. My phone doesn’t have anything either so you don’t have to worry.”

Prosecutors have previously pointed out that the Capitol was also mentioned during the meeting.

The conspiracy case against Tarrio includes five other Proud Boys members — Ethan Nordean, Joseph Biggs, Zachary Rehl, Charles Donohoe and Dominic Pezzola.

Tarrio, Nordean, Biggs, Rehl and Pezzola are scheduled to go to trial in August and have pleaded not guilty to a number of federal crimes, including conspiracy. Donohoe pleaded guilty to conspiracy in April, agreeing to cooperate with the Justice Department in its investigation and potentially provide testimony during trial.

Rhodes has pleaded not guilty to seditious conspiracy and other federal charges. He and eight other alleged members of the Oath Keepers are set to go on trial in September.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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