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Political Notebook

Oath Keepers, Proud Boys subpoenaed by Jan. 6 House panel

The Jan. 6 riot occurred when supporters of former president Donald Trump, fueled by his false claims of a stolen election, assaulted police and smashed their way into the Capitol to interrupt the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.
The Jan. 6 riot occurred when supporters of former president Donald Trump, fueled by his false claims of a stolen election, assaulted police and smashed their way into the Capitol to interrupt the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.Jason Andrew/NYT

WASHINGTON — The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 US Capitol insurrection issued more subpoenas Tuesday, this time to extremist organizations, including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers as well as their leaders, in an attempt to uncover the plotting and execution of the deadly attack.

“The Select Committee is seeking information from individuals and organizations reportedly involved with planning the attack, with the violent mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6th, or with efforts to overturn the results of the election,” Mississippi Representative Bennie Thompson, the Democratic chairman of the panel, said in a statement.

The subpoenas are the latest in a wide net the House panel has cast in an effort to investigate the riot, when supporters of former president Donald Trump, fueled by his false claims of a stolen election, assaulted police and smashed their way into the Capitol to interrupt the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s victory.

The committee has already interviewed more than 150 people across government, social media, and law enforcement, including some former Trump aides who have been cooperative. The panel has subpoenaed more than 20 witnesses, and most of them, including several who helped plan the “Stop the Steal” rally the morning of Jan. 6, have signaled they will cooperate.


The latest subpoenas were issued to the Oath Keepers, the Proud Boys, and 1st Amendment Praetorian organizations as well as their members, requesting documents and testimony.

Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, chairman of the Proud Boys, was among those subpoenaed. He hasn’t been charged in the riot as he wasn’t there on Jan. 6. He’d been arrested in an unrelated vandalism case as he arrived in Washington two days earlier and was ordered out of the area by a judge. Law enforcement later said Tarrio was picked up in part to help quell potential violence.


But despite him not being physically present, the committee believes he may have been involved in the Proud Boys’ preparation for the events at the Capitol.

The committee highlighted a line from another Proud Boys leader’s podcast shortly before Jan. 6 in which he said, “When police officers or government officials are breaking the law, what are we supposed to do as people? Discourse? What are we supposed to do debate? No, we have to use force.”

A lawyer affiliated with the Proud Boys didn’t return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

More than 30 Proud Boys leaders, members, or associates are among those who have been charged in connection with the attack. The group of self-described “Western chauvinists” emerged from far-right fringes during the Trump administration to join mainstream GOP circles, with allies like longtime Trump backer Roger Stone. The group claims it has more than 30,000 members nationwide.

The committee on Tuesday also subpoenaed the Oath Keepers — a militia group founded in 2009 that recruits current and former military, police, and first responders — and its founder and leader Elmer Stewart Rhodes. The panel says Rhodes may have suggested members should engage in violence to ensure their preferred election outcome and that he was in contact with several of the more than a dozen indicted Oath Keepers members before, during and after the Capitol attack, including meeting some of them outside the Capitol.

Rhodes has said there were as many as 40,000 Oath Keepers at its peak, but one extremism expert estimates the group’s membership stands around 3,000 nationally. Rhodes didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment that was left on the organization’s website.


The last organization on the committee’s list Tuesday was the 1st Amendment Praetorian, founded by a QAnon believer, which claims to provide free security for “patriotic and religious events across the country.”

Its chairman, Robert Patrick Lewis, is wanted by the committee after being listed as a speaker on the permit for a Jan. 5 rally on Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington. On the day of the attack, Lewis tweeted: “Today is the day that true battles begin.”


New York City set to allow noncitizens to vote

NEW YORK — New York City lawmakers are poised to allow more than 800,000 New Yorkers who are green card holders or have the legal right to work in the United States to vote in municipal elections and for local ballot initiatives.

The bill would make New York City the largest municipality in the country to allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.

The legislation, expected to be approved by the City Council on Dec. 9 by a veto-proof margin, comes as the country is dealing with a swath of new laws to impose voter restrictions, as well as the economic and demographic effects of a decline in immigration.

Voters in Alabama, Colorado, and Florida passed ballot measures last year specifying that only citizens could vote. The states joined Arizona and North Dakota in specifying that noncitizens could not vote in state and local elections.


The legislation, first introduced almost two years ago, is the culmination of more than a decade of work to gain local voting rights for some legal permanent residents. It also extends the right to those with work authorization, such as the “Dreamers,” recipients of a program known as DACA that shields young immigrants brought into the country illegally from deportation and allows them to live and work here.

It was once more common for noncitizens to have voting rights in the United States, but the provisions were repealed around the turn of the 20th century as more immigrants arrived and popular sentiment changed.


Jefferson statue out at New York City Hall

A 19th-century statue of Thomas Jefferson that’s been in New York City Hall for more than century was removed from the City Council chambers Monday, weeks after officials unanimously voted to banish the statue because of the president’s history as a enslaver.

The 7-foot-tall, 884-pound statue built in 1833 was taken down from its pedestal and packed away in a wooden box, and will be a long-term loan to the New-York Historical Society. Its removal came after many City Council members demanded the statue be removed, despite pushback from some conservatives that such a move was an overreaction to Jefferson’s complex past. Jefferson — founding father, third president, author of the Declaration of Independence — enslaved more than 600 people in his adult life and fathered several children with one, Sally Hemings.

Members of the city’s Public Design Commission voted last month unanimously to remove the statue from council chambers in City Hall by the end of 2021. The decades-long push to get rid of the statue of Jefferson, described by one Democratic State Assembly member as ‘’a slaveholding pedophile,’’ gained traction last year among the City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus following the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the nationwide racial reckoning that unfolded.


The removal of Jefferson’s statue highlights a contentious debate about racialized oppression playing out in communities nationwide as people continue to reevaluate the historical figures they honor in public places.