Dispute Over Claim That Proud Boys Leader Urged Attack at Capitol

The New York Times reviewed two different versions of the video of the meeting, but the footage is brief and occasionally obscured by obstructions like a passer-by and a flag, making it impossible to conclusively confirm or deny Mr. Samsel’s account.

In its public filings, the government has never explicitly mentioned the video footage of the encounter between Mr. Biggs and Mr. Samsel, who appears to have no ties to the Proud Boys. Prosecutors have in fact left only meager hints about possible connections between the men, noting in court papers this spring that they were both in the same part of the crowd outside the Capitol.

But if Mr. Samsel’s account is true, it could serve to bolster arguments that some Proud Boys leaders intentionally incited ordinary people in the crowd — or what they refer to as “normies” — to commit violence during the attack. The government has offered other evidence, drawn from the group’s internal messaging chats, that two Proud Boys leaders from Philadelphia were excited by the prospect of “riling up the normies” on Jan. 6.

The vast investigation into the Capitol attack has so far led to 630 federal arrests and nearly 100 guilty pleas. The conspiracy charges against Mr. Biggs and 16 other Proud Boys are some of the most prominent allegations that the Justice Department has made.

Mr. Biggs, who lives in Florida, was the first of four Proud Boys leaders to be arrested in connection with the Capitol attack. The internal chats suggest that he was in communication with the group’s chairman, Enrique Tarrio, on the night before the assault.

Mr. Tarrio himself was not in Washington that day, having been ordered by a local judge to stay away from the city after his arrest days earlier on charges of illegally possessing ammunition magazines and burning a Black Lives Matter banner after a pro-Trump rally in December. He is currently serving a five-month sentence on the charges.

Before joining the Proud Boys, Mr. Biggs was, among other things, a correspondent for Infowars, the conspiracy-minded media company run by Alex Jones. He has remained close to Mr. Jones, who was also at the Capitol on Jan. 6 with his right-hand man, Owen Shroyer, who has been arrested on charges of illegally entering a restricted area outside the building. Mr. Jones has not been charged in connection with the riot even though he was standing near Mr. Shroyer.

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