The House committee learned from multiple witnesses in recent weeks that although members of both groups worked together on Jan. 6, , animosity existed between leaders of the two groups in the days leading up to the Capitol attack.
Four people familiar with the investigation said that House investigators conducted depositions to probe this line of inquiry, in an effort to find out more about the dynamics within two key groups connected to Jan. 6.
The questions and answers the committee received reveal that it is deep investigating how far-right groups could have been riven with intense rivalry even though they pursued similar and allegedly seditious goals during the Jan. 6-period. As the committee pushes to complete its work, it is not clear if this line will be included in the public findings. Many people familiar with the committee claim that members and their aides felt pressured to finish their work within the next weeks, even though they were exploring different investigative avenues.
The people claimed that Jan. 6 committee investigators had asked at least three witnesses about the rivalry, mistrust and animus between Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keepers founder, and Enrique Tarrio, a prominent Proud Boys member, in the weeks leading up to the attack on Capitol. According to sources, Rhodes sat for six hours with Tarrio while Tarrio sat for at least four hours.
The people stated that several witnesses provided details about the operations of far-right groups. The committee will explain to the public how feuding groups managed to overcome their differences and join forces to support former President Donald Trump, and press Congress.
Two people familiar with depositions stated that the investigation into Trump's relationship with Oath Keepers and Proud Boys has not changed the committee's private assessment of how Oath Keepers and Proud Boys were able to work together on Jan. 6.
Tarrio and Rhodes are the most prominent Jan. 6 defendants, while Rhodes is awaiting trial on seditious conspiracy in connection to the Jan. 6, attack. Tarrio remains in jail pending trial on many federal charges including conspiracy.
Nick Quested, a New York-based filmmaker, said that he testified before the committee for seven hours in March. He also confirmed to CBS News, that he spoke with investigators from the committee about Rhodes' relationship with Tarrio. This he has documented.
Quested said that there was animus between Rhodes, and Tarrio. This was in reference to the Jan. 5, 2021 meeting between the two men. It was filmed. They were not part of the same team. There was an underlying fear that they would not be able to communicate with one another, particularly from Rhodes' perspective.
The CBS News interviewed three other people, who requested anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak at the committee depositions.
This new inquiry demonstrates how the Jan.6 committee, which is just weeks away from holding public hearings, works to map out the relationships among far-right groups as well as to understand the dynamics surrounding the Jan.6 attack.
The committee discovered that the two central far right groups associated with Jan. 6, were not a single entity working together to coordinate the attack on the Capitol. Instead, they were divided by intense infighting even though they pursued similar, allegedly seditious goals during that period.
Recent testimony by several witnesses has given some nuanced information on how far-right organizations operate. Their shared conspiracies are sometimes gaining traction online, despite the fact that their leaders were suspicious or feuding.
A lawyer who represented Proud Boys clients on other criminal cases stated that the group only seeks men for membership. Jan. 6 defendants are alleged to be affiliated with Proud Boys. They are rooted in greater metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia. Many of the Oath Keepers accused in the attack hails from rural areas, including those in southern Ohio and western Virginia.
The committee has asked witnesses to testify about the January 5, 2021 meeting between Rhodes and Tarrio, which took place in Washington, D.C. hours before Oath Keepers and Proud Boys stormed the Capitol with the intent of stopping certification of the 2020 presidential race.
According to two sources familiar with Tarrio's testimony and that of others, Rhodes and Tarrio met briefly on the eve of Capitol attack in the garage of the Hall of States Building in Washington.
Tarrio stated to the Jan. 6 committee that his hotel was near the parking garage, and that he made a quick visit to Rhodes. Three people who were familiar with his testimony stated that Tarrio said he did it because he disliked Rhodes and considered Rhodes a rival.
"They met unexpectedly and without warning. One person close to Tarrio said that they don't like one another.
Tarrio, in a meeting with the committee, referred to Rhodes' group "oathbreakers" at one point. A second person responded.
Investigators were also told by Tarrio that animus between Rhodes and him can be traced back in 2019 to a fallout following an incident in Portland. Tarrio claimed to have made arrangements with Rhodes for transporting a convoy full of Proud Boys through the City. However, Rhodes stood up and left the Proud Boys stranded, according to the people.
According to Tarrio, he was frustrated and angry at Rhodes' handling, which left Proud Boys unable to travel or pay for car services, according to sources.
Beyond Quested said that a person who was familiar with the Jan. 5, 2021 meeting of Rhodes and Tarrio told him it was short, probably less than two minutes.
Tarrio informed the House committee that Rhodes was not in the garage where an associate and Trump supporters had gathered Jan. 5. Tarrio said that Rhodes and he shook hands and welcomed each other to the House committee.
According to Rhodes' defense attorney, Rhodes was interviewed by the House committee for six hours in February. Phillip Lindner, Phillip's attorney, said that the interview focused on the origins of Oath Keepers and their beliefs. However, it also covered questions about Rhodes' relationship with Tarrio. Lindner stated that Rhodes had nothing to say about Tarrio.
Tarrio's attorney declined to comment.
The spokesperson for the committee declined comment.
CBS News confirmed that the CBS News committee is looking into whether far-right leaders were inspired by Trump’s comments about the Proud Boys.
Trump and Joe Biden, then the vice president of the United States, had a heated discussion about white supremacy at a presidential debate held on September 29, 2020. When Trump was asked about the Proud Boys he replied "Proud Boys," before adding that violence is a "left-wing issue."
In an increasing number civil and criminal cases arising from the Capitol siege, judges, federal prosecutors and lawyers have highlighted Trump's comments. They claim that the phrase inspired the violence on Jan. 6, especially among Proud Boys.
CBS News reviewed the thousands of pages of criminal court files and found multiple references to this phrase in affidavits, memos, or other documents used to seek criminal charges against individuals or pretrial detention.
The Justice Department charged Capitol Riot defendant Daniel Goodwyn, Corinth, Texas with posting "stand back, stand by" on Twitter, using an avatar of Donald Trump on Nov. 7, 2020.
Tarrio pleaded guilty to several federal felonies earlier in the month. These included conspiracy to obstruct Congress from certifying the 2020 electoral votes. This stems from his participation in the Jan. 6 Capitol Attack.
After a grand jury in Washington, D.C. indicted him, he was taken into custody in Miami. He was also indicted by five Proud Boys members for other crimes related to Jan. 6. Tarrio was ordered detained by a Florida judge in order to await trial. He appeared virtual at an arraignment in U.S. District Court, Washington in April to enter his not guilty plea.
Tarrio was not present at the Capitol Jan. 6, according to the Justice Department. However, prosecutors claim that he planned a part of the attack in advance and kept in touch with some Proud Boys during the assault.
Tarrio was arrested on unrelated charges two days prior to the attack. Tarrio was released on the following day, and he was ordered to avoid Washington. According to the new indictment, he was accused of defying the order and remaining in Washington for some while, directing the Proud Boys' actions during Capitol rioting, and bragging about it later in encrypted messages.
Prosecutors claimed that Tarrio and the other Proud Boys established what they called a Ministry of Self Defense, with Tarrio at its top.
Tarrio's codefendants pleaded guilty to the charges earlier in the month and agreed that they would cooperate with the prosecutors.
In January Rhodes and nine other co-defendants pleaded guilty to the charges that they had planned for and participated at the Jan. 6 Capitol Attack.
After hearing the charges against them, each defendant entered not-guilty pleas in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., after which they were given a chance to hear the evidence.
The Justice Department has indicted 11 Oath Keepers members with seditious conspiracies. This carries a maximum sentence up to 20 years imprisonment, depending on the discretion of the judge. One defendant in the Oath Keepers case pleaded guilty to the charge and agreed to cooperate the Justice Department's investigation.
On Monday, Rhodes requested that his trial be moved from Washington, D.C.
Prosecutors claim that Rhodes and his conspirators wanted to stop the presidential transfer.
According to the indictment, "They coordinated travel across America to enter Washington, D.C., outfitted themselves with a variety weapons, donned combat gear, and were ready to answer Rhodes’s call to arms at Rhodes’s direction." "Some conspirators also accumulated firearms near Washington, D.C., and distributed them among 'quick response force' teams. They planned to use the firearms to support their plot to stop lawful presidential transfer."