An FBI informant who joined the Proud Boys and helped breach the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, says there was an understanding that he could commit crimes in certain situations.
The informant, named in court as Aaron, said that he spoke with his handling agent before traveling to Washington.
“Did your conversation with the agent contemplate what might happen if you encountered some people engaging in bad activity?” Aaron was asked.
“Yes. If there’s an emergency situation, and to protect myself from physical harm or worse, I have to do something minor, like if I’m surrounded by Antifa and I have to spray paint on a wall or break a window to try and get them to leave me alone, then that could be explained and would be much better than me being severely hurt,” Aaron testified on March 29, according to transcripts reviewed by The Epoch Times.
“So when you say that that could be explained, what is your understanding of what that meant?” Aaron was asked.
“That I wouldn’t get in trouble if I did something minor like that if it was in the act of self-preservation,” he responded.
The informant, whose last name was not provided, was questioned during the trial of Proud Boys members, including Ethan Nordean.
Nordean and other Proud Boys have been charged with seditious conspiracy, among other counts.
Another lawyer, questioning Aaron later, asked: “I believe you stated on direct that you understood from your handler that when you were in these situations, if you did something minor, you would not get in trouble?”
“If it kept me safe,” Aaron said.
Part of March
Aaron, who started reporting to the FBI in 2008 and joined the Proud Boys in 2019, drove to Washington from the Kansas City, Missouri area and gathered with Nordean and other Proud Boys at the Washington Monument on Jan. 6.
An unknown man wearing military fatigues and holding a baseball bat asked to join the group. Aaron said yes.
“I believe your testimony was that it was you, a federal informant, who got that gentleman into the walk that day with the Proud Boys?” a defense lawyer remarked at one point.
“I believe it is off of what I said that allowed him to walk with us,” Aaron said.
The group eventually made it to the Capitol. Some of the barriers that had been in the way had been removed, while others were removed by the marchers.
Aaron initially texted his FBI handler: “PB did not do it, nor inspire. The crowd did as herd mentality, not organized. Barriers down at Capitol Building. Crowd surged forward, almost to the building now.” The text was received by the handler, who was based in the Central Time Zone, at approximately 12:02 p.m. Central.
There was no plan, as far as Aaron knew, among the Proud Boys to enter the Capitol, though he said he was not part of discussions among the organization’s leadership.
Aaron said he was asked by his handler to see if he could locate someone in Washington who “had nothing to do with the Proud Boys to figure out why they were there, if they were there, and what their motivation was.”
There was an expectation that he would report to the agent what was observed, particularly if any violence unfolded.
If people were engaged in illegal activity, that’s when Aaron said he could engage in crimes.
That authorization related only to Antifa, a far-left network of groups, Aaron said. “They were very vague about that,” he said. He said he did not receive written authorization or a specific instruction that he could act illegally in connection with the Proud Boys.
After arriving at the Capitol, Aaron helped block a metal gate so that police could not close it. He said he was following instructions from another Proud Boy.
“That podium was going to help make sure that gate didn’t close. Correct?” a government prosecutor asked during cross-examination.
“I believe that’s the reason why I was asked to grab it,” Aaron said.
In hindsight, he said later, he should not have done that.
Aaron later acknowledged he entered the Capitol, an action for which hundreds of others have been charged. The entrance took place about 12 minutes after the building was initially breached, according to court exhibits.
“I wasn’t going to at first, but then it was under the understanding that if I could prevent someone from destroying something of historic significance, that that would be a valid reason to go in,” he testified.
“I thought that it would be acceptable if it was to prevent worse acts from happening inside, that I could justify going in there,” he said.
“You knew that going into the building was illegal and, because you knew that, you hesitated before you went in. Correct?” he was asked.
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