Springfield News-Sun

Proud Boys want Trump to be witness at Jan. 6 sedition trial

- Alan Feuer

In a long-shot move, lawyers for five members of the Proud Boys facing sedition charges in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol are seeking to issue a subpoena demanding that former President Donald Trump appear as a witness at their trial.

The lawyers are hoping to elicit testimony from Trump that could convince the jury that he, rather than their clients, instigated the crowd that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Prosecutor­s have built their case against the five Proud Boys by arguing that they induced dozens of members of the farright group and others in the mob that day into taking action against a joint session of Congress where lawmakers were certifying the results of the 2020 election.

It remains unclear whether Judge Timothy Kelly, who is overseeing the case, will allow the subpoena, which was drafted over the weekend by the defense lawyers for the judge’s approval. If the subpoena is permitted, Trump is almost certain to try to quash it and avoid being placed under oath on the witness stand and questioned about his role on Jan. 6. His spokespers­on did not immediatel­y respond to a request seeking comment.

Other Jan. 6 defendants have considered issuing trial subpoenas for Trump’s testimony, but none have actually gone forward with the plan. Last year, Dustin

Thompson, an exterminat­or from Ohio, sought permission from the judge in his case to subpoena the former president and several of his allies to testify as witnesses at his trial.

“It is anticipate­d that, when called as a witness, Donald J. Trump will testify that he and others orchestrat­ed a carefully crafted plot to call into question the integrity of the 2020 presidenti­al election and the validity of President Biden’s victory,” Thompson’s lawyer, Samuel Shamansky, said in court papers filed at the time.

That effort, however, was cut short by the judge in Thompson’s case before a subpoena was sent out. After testifying in his own defense that he was merely following Trump’s orders while storming the Capitol, Thompson was convicted of all six charges he faced and sentenced to three years in prison.

The five Proud Boys defendants — Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl, Dominic Pezzola and Joseph Biggs — may have a better legal argument. Their lawyers contend that because the government has accused the defendants of inciting others to join them in attacking the Capitol as “tools of the conspiracy,” they have a right to rebut the claim by presenting an alternate theory.

The defense is not expecting to begin its presentati­on to the jury for at least two weeks, leaving ample time for Trump to contest the subpoena if it is issued.

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