Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers can’t keep their stories straight on how well they —and their leaders—know each other as investigators look into possible collaboration between the two groups in the violent Capitol riot.
Enrique Tarrio, the former “chairman” of the Proud Boys, and Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, were deposed earlier this year by the House Select Committee tasked with investigating Jan. 6, and transcripts of those interviews were made public on Wednesday.
Tarrio, in particular, seemed keen to downplay any relationship with Rhodes or other Oath Keepers — at points claiming he had no memory of documented communications, or even suggesting that other extremists like to drop his name for clout.
Rhodes was recently convicted on seditious conspiracy charges, and jury selection in the seditious conspiracy trial for Tarrio and four other prominent members of the Proud Boys has just begun.
Prosecutors and congressional investigators have zeroed in on potential collaboration between two of the most notorious American extremist groups and their respective leaders at the time. Still to this day, the nature of those relationships remain murky.
We knew that Tarrio and Rhodes, as well as a documentary crew, met in an underground parking garage on Jan. 5 — the day before the Capitol riot, and before Tarrio left the city under court order.
They were also both part of a Signal group called “Friends of Stone” (named for Trump ally Roger Stone), along with Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander, Infowars host Owen Shroyer, and others.
Testimony during Rhodes’ seditious conspiracy trial revealed that that chat group was active running up to and even during the Capitol riot. At 2.28 p.m. on Jan. 6, Rhodes wrote in that Signal chat, “Back door of the Capitol.” At that time, Proud Boys had already made their way towards the Capitol on the other side.
Both Rhodes and Tarrio gave lengthy depositions with House Select Committee investigators in February, who quizzed them repeatedly about their relationship.
They testified, independently, that they’d fallen out in 2019. But what happened afterwards isn’t clear.
Rhodes said that until 2019, the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers collaborated in an “ad hoc” manner around different events.
In August 2019, Proud Boys held a rally in Portland, Oregon, (one of their favorite battlegrounds). Tarrio testified that Rhodes offered to supply buses to escort Proud Boys from the city once the rally was over, but then bailed, forcing members of the far-right street fighting gang to summon Ubers instead.
“He pulled out on us last minute,” Tarrio said. “So could you imagine sitting in a street corner with 300 people, and all these people are ordering Ubers. It was next to impossible to get these people out of the city of Portland.”
Tarrio said he “dropped a lot of F-bombs, different versions of the F-bomb” when he talked to Rhodes. “After that, I called that whole Oath Keepers group the ‘Oath Breakers,’” Tarrio said.
Rhodes told a slightly different version of events. He said that he withdrew from the Portland rally when he learned that Proud Boys were also allying with members of the American Guard, whose ranks include overt white supremacists. “I said, ‘I’m not going to associate with people that I think are white nationalist,” said Rhodes. “I did a very public condemnation of it when we were trying to withdraw, which caused a lot of grief between us and Proud Boys, you know, so — but I felt it was necessary to be very clear that this is why we are withdrawing.”
Since then, Rhodes said, “we have kind of patched up a little bit.”
Tarrio maintains he remained on the “F-Oath Keepers train” and continually downplayed any possible relationship with members of the militia or others like the Three Percenters when pressed by the congressional interviewer.
The interviewer asked, for example, if Tarrio recalled seeing any Oath Keepers or Three Percenters in Washington D.C. during the “Million MAGA March” in Nov. 2020. “Probably like walking around, yeah,” Tarrio said.
“Did you speak to them, or did you just kind of walk past them?” the interviewer asked.
“After that event in Portland, I didn’t want to do — have anything to do with Oath Keepers or militias or anything like that,” said Tarrio. “Like if they want to do their thing, they do their thing, but they were just a little bit too serious for my taste.”
(Three Percenters were seen acting as security for a Proud Boy rally only months earlier, in Portland in Sept. 2020).
Tarrio was asked the same question about another Stop the Steal rally less than a week later in Atlanta. “I don’t want to sound insensitive,” said Tarrio. “I mean, if I’m being honest here, a bunch of older white dudes in camouflage are hard to tell one from the other, like I can’t tell them apart.”
He also said that Joseph Biggs, another top Proud Boy organizer facing seditious conspiracy charges, considers the Oath Keepers to be “embarrassing.”
And yet, at least one Oath Keeper—Roberto Minuta—was seen marching alongside Proud Boys during a Stop the Steal rally in D.C. on Dec. 12, 2020. Minuta provided security to Roger Stone on Jan 6, and later stormed the Capitol (he’d previously guarded other Trump-world figures at earlier events including conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn).
Tarrio posted a photo to his Parler account that showed Minuta in the background, with the caption “Lords of War.” “Bad ass… thanks for the picture,” Minuta replied. “Honored to stand with you guys. See you Jan. 6.” (Minuta is currently on trial for seditious conspiracy).
Congressional investigators also asked Tarrio about his communications with Kelly Meggs, the Florida Oath Keeper leader (who has just been convicted of seditious conspiracy), in Dec. 2020—the weeks leading up to Jan. 6.
“Do you recall meeting a Mr. Kelly Meggs during the December 12 rally?” the interviewer asked Tarrio.
“I don’t even know what Kelly Meggs looks like,” Tarrio replied. He said he’d heard the name before, but claims only due to his arrest for Jan. 6.
The interviewer pressed him, noting phone records showing that Meggs called Tarrio on Dec. 19 — right after Trump’s infamous Tweet advertising a “wild protest” in D.C. on Jan. 6.
I get people that name-drop me all the time
The interviewer also pulled up a message by Meggs from later that day. “We are ready for the rioters,” he wrote. “This week I organized an alliance between Oath Keepers, Florida Three Percenters, and Proud Boys. We have decided to work together and shut this shit down."
“So, again, I want to ask, do you recall speaking to Mr. Kelly Meggs about an alliance around this time in December?” the interviewer asked.
“When you’re asking specifically about some type of alliance, I can tell you straight up, no,” Tarrio replied. “We don’t march with anybody else. I don’t like coordinating at all with other groups.” He also said he just couldn’t recall having ever spoken to Meggs.
“I get people that name-drop me all the time,” Tarrio added. His lawyer, Daniel Hull, later chalked up Meggs’ claim of an “alliance” to some “very weird Oath Keepers fantasies about what they were going to do with the Proud Boys.”