At least one member of the far-right Proud Boys group was in contact with a member of Donald Trump‘s White House just days before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol Complex, according to the FBI.
A late Friday report by The New York Times cites an anonymous “law enforcement official briefed on the investigation” who claims that location data, cellular data and call record data support the finding that a phone call was made between a Proud Boy and a member of the former president’s administration.
The details of that alleged phone call are currently unknown to the FBI but the identities of the participants appear to be. The anonymous law enforcement official cited by the outlet, however, “would not reveal the names of either party,” according to the exposé by Katie Benner, Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman.
According to the Times, the phone call between the Proud Boy and the Trump White House member was uncovered “in part” due to data the FBI received from certain “technology and telecommunications companies” in the days following the deadly, abortive siege.
One of those companies appears to be Google.
From the article:
The F.B.I. also obtained a “geofence” warrant for all the Android devices that Google recorded within the building during the assault, the officials said. A geofence warrant legally gives law enforcement a list of mobile devices that are able to be identified in a particular geographic area. Jill Sanborn, the head of counterterrorism at the F.B.I., testified before a Senate panel on Wednesday that all the data the F.B.I. had gathered in its investigation into the riot was obtained legally through subpoenas and search warrants.
The FBI quickly cast a massive dragnet following the attack—applying for warrants targeting each and every phone that interacted with cell phone towers serving the U.S. Capitol. Citing “three officials familiar with the investigation,” the bureau eventually received information from “the major cellphone carriers” on numbers dialed by each of those phones during the pro-Trump riot, according to the Times.
Various members of the Proud Boys have been indicted over their alleged participation in the events that transpired on Jan. 6.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) first accused Dominic “Spaz” Pezzola of Rochester, N.Y. as having been part of a group that aimed to kill House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi and then-vice president Mike Pence.
Six members of the group were indicted late February by federal prosecutors on charges of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiracy to obstruct law enforcement during civil disorder. Many members of the group face decades in prison if convicted and sentenced with statutory maximums—though this is exceedingly unlikely. Some have shown a willingness to work towards plea bargains.
In early February, federal prosecutors first publicly signaled their efforts at peering into the Proud Boys’ communications. According to court documents filed in service of denying bail to member Ethan Nordean, also known as “Rufio Panman,” the government claimed the group had been planning its actions viz. the Capitol Hill siege since sometime late last year.
[image via screengrab/YouTube]
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