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Contact found between Proud Boys member and Trump White House associate before Capitol riots, report says

James Crump
·3-min read
<p>A mob of supporters of former US President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on 6 January 2021</p> ((Reuters))

A mob of supporters of former US President Donald Trump fight with members of law enforcement at a door they broke open as they storm the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC, on 6 January 2021

((Reuters))

A member of the far-right group Proud Boys reportedly had communication with a person associated with Donald Trump’s White House in the days leading up to the Capitol riots on 6 January.

A law enforcement official, who claims he has been briefed about an FBI investigation, told The New York Times on Friday that mobile phone data, including location and call records links a Proud Boys member and a White House official.

Proud Boys is a far-right, male-only organisation known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies, which has been described as an extremist group by the legal advocacy organisation, the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

Facebook and Instagram have banned content from members of the group from appearing on their sites, with the former explaining its decision by saying that it bans “hate organisations” from its service.

The FBI is still unaware about what was discussed during the communication and the official would not name the White House contact to the Times.

The communication was reportedly made in the days leading up to the riots, where a mob of pro-Trump supporters breached the US Capitol, causing House members to barricade themselves inside their offices.

Five people died and several others were injured on that day, and the FBI has recently intensified its investigation into possible links between far-right extremists and members of Congress and the Trump administration.

The official said that although the data revealed no evidence of communication between rioters and members of Congress during the attack, it did show contact between lawmakers and far-right extremists in the days leading up to 6 January. The communications are being examined, but no investigations have yet been opened.

More than a dozen Proud Boys members have been charged in relation to the riots, while federal prosecutors have alleged that several of them arranged travel to Washington, DC, with the aim to disrupt Congress’ certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

A former state department aide during the Trump administration was arrested in connection with the riots on Thursday and charged on counts including unlawful entry, violent and disorderly conduct, obstructing Congress and law enforcement, and assaulting an officer with a dangerous weapon.

Federico Klein, 42, who was arrested in Virginia, worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and was then hired at the State Department after his inauguration.

In court documents obtained by The Times, the FBI said that information from a witness and a tip led them to determine that Mr Klein was still employed by the State Department and possessed a Top Secret security clearance when the riot took place.

The FBI said in the documents that Mr Klein resigned from his position on 19 January, one day before Mr Biden took office.

The agency also alleges that Mr Klein can be seen in video footage and other images dressed in a red “Make America Great Again” hat amid chaos at the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol building.

More than 300 people have been arrested and subsequently charged in connection to the insurrection in the months following the siege, with the FBI still asking for help from the public to identify more suspects.

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