The indictment charged Rehl and Donahoe with six counts, including conspiracy to aid and abet the obstruction of Congress’s confirmation of the 2020 presidential election and police trying to prevent civil disorder.
The indictment also added the conspiracy and civil disorder count against previously charged Ethan Nordean, 30, of the Seattle area and Joseph Biggs, 37, of Ormond Beach, Fla., and dropped an allegation that Nordean abetted the destruction of government property.
None of the four — three U.S. military veterans except Nordean — has entered a plea. A Tuesday arraignment for Nordean on a solo indictment was postponed.
The superseding charges paint a more sweeping and intricate conspiracy among Proud Boys in the days leading up to the assault, which forced the evacuation of Congress, led to assaults on 139 police officers, and left five people dead.
U.S. prosecutors and the FBI have charged about 20 members or associates of the Proud Boys — a far-right group with a history of violence. The government has called some chief instigators who allegedly raised funds for travel and protective gear, schemed to evade law enforcement by dressing “incognito,” and using programmable radios and encrypted communications. Prosecutors have also accused certain Proud Boys of leading the charge to storm police lines, dismantle barricades, assault officer and break windows.
A federal defender for Donohoe in North Carolina, where he made an initial court appearance Wednesday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and an attorney for Rehl could not immediately be identified.
The new indictment alleges that the four defendants and “a handful of additional members” created a channel titled “MOSD” on an encrypted app on Jan. 4 after the arrest of Proud Boys national leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, with Donohoe allegedly telling users on several other encrypted channels, “Hey have been instructed and listen to me real good! There is no planning of any sorts … we can be looking at gang charges.”
“Stop everything immediately,” Donohoe added, writing, “This comes from the top,” the indictment alleges.
However, an FBI affiant stated the group moved talks over to the MOSD group, which included an unindicted co-conspirator, identified as UCC-1.
“We had originally planned on breaking the guys into teams. Let’s start divvying them up and getting [B]aofeng [radio] channels picked out,” UCC-1 allegedly posted the group, referring to two-way handheld radios that the indictment said Rehl purchased.
More than 60 users also communicated in a “Boots on the Ground” encrypted channel, to which Biggs allegedly posted on Jan. 5 that he wanted to “go over tomorrow’s plan,” the FBI alleged. Biggs and Donohoe also discussed planning with Tarrio and each other and being in command of the group that assembled on Jan. 6 with Nordean and Rehl, according to charging papers.
“We’ve just taken the Capitol,” Biggs allegedly announced on a video he took after a mob led by Proud Boys members overwhelmed police to reach the Capitol’s west front shortly after 1 p.m.
There, a charged Proud Boys member allegedly deployed bear-spray gel at a “weak point” in police lines defending a stairway on the northern end of the West Terrace, prosecutors said in court Friday.
Within nine minutes, the mob broke through, with another charged Proud Boy member using an officer’s riot shield at 2:13 p.m. to smash in a Capitol window, allowing others to rush into the building near Vice President Mike Pence as he was being led to safety, prosecutors said.
Biggs and three other charged members entered an adjacent door, with a Boots on the Ground user posting, “We just stormed the Capitol,” according to the indictment.
“We stormed the capitol unarmed,” Donohoe later posted, “and we took it over unarmed,” the indictment alleges.
The indictment also alleges that Biggs exited the building but then forcibly reentered it 30 minutes later on the opposite east side, pushing past a police officer and entering the Columbus Doors “directly in front of a group” of individuals affiliated with the Oath Keepers.
U.S. prosecutors have separately charged more than a dozen members of the Oath Keepers — a network of loosely organized right-wing, anti-government groups — with conspiracy to obstruct the joint session of Congress.
The existence of an indictment and arrests of Rehl and Donohoe were first reported Wednesday by the New York Times.
Tarrio, 33, a former aide to Republican strategist and Trump confidant Roger Stone, has denied that the group organized any violence at the Capitol. Tarrio was not at the Jan. 6 rally and has not been charged with any wrongdoing related to the riot. “There was no plan to go into the Capitol. … There was no plan to even interrupt Congress,” Tarrio has said.
Nordean’s defense attorney, David Benjamin Smith, said last week that the government did not allege any evidence of plans or conspiracy by him to commit any specific crime involving the destruction of government property.
Jailing somebody for “simply marching with a group of people who later committed crimes is guilt by association,” Smith said, successfully arguing for Nordean’s conditional release pending trial.
Biggs’s defense attorney, Michael Ryan, has called the allegations against Biggs “speculative” and said he is not accused of damaging the Capitol.
Prosecutors have alleged that a Proud Boys-led group assembled at 10 a.m. that morning at the Washington Monument then moved to the Capitol, skipping President Donald Trump’s speech at a rally near the White House.
Before allegedly leading some of the earliest, most visible and destructive efforts at the Capitol beginning at about 1 p.m., the group wearing helmets, vests and tactical gear marked with fluorescent orange tape allegedly led chants, taunted police and threatened to “take the Capitol” in a Proud Boys live stream, according to prosecutors.
In social media posts and video, Nordean expressed anger at police, including their response to violence that erupted involving Proud Boys members who attended a December pro-Trump demonstration in D.C. and their arrest Jan. 4 of Tarrio, who has pleaded not guilty to burning a historic Black church’s flag during the Dec. 12 protest.
Tarrio, Nordean and Biggs, a former U.S. Army sergeant and Infowars.com on-air contributor, also formed a business together last year, Warboys LLC, promoting right-wing causes online and through Tarrio’s store, the 1776 Shop.
In a separate Thursday filing on behalf of former Army private Jessica Watkins, Assistant Federal Defender Michelle Peterson said “the government has produced no evidence that the Oath Keepers as a whole, let alone the small group of people Ms. Watkins was with, had any intention of storming the capitol or breaking any laws on January 6, 2021.”
While Watkins, an alleged ring leader and founder of an Ohio armed group, has expressed remorse for going into the Capitol, Peterson said she and other members were only planning to provide security that day and exchanged several texts beforehand discussing guarding Stone.