Five members of the Proud Boys face the rare "seditious conspiracy" charge. Guilty verdicts—almost certain given the government's near-perfect conviction rate for January 6 defendants—would build legal momentum for a similar indictment against Donald Trump. (The trial is so crucial that Matthew Graves, the Biden-appointed U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia responsible for prosecuting every January 6 case, has shown up in the courtroom on at least three occasions.)
Trump is a major figure in this trial, an unindicted coconspirator of sorts. Last week, Judge Timothy Kelly allowed prosecutors to play a clip of Trump's extemporaneous comment for the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by"—a remark uttered during a presidential debate in September 2020 more than three months before the Capitol protest. The Justice Department wants to portray the comment as a call to arms, tying the alleged "militia" group to the former president.
The clip is just another thin reed of evidence in the government's landmark domestic terrorism case. In fact, much of the "evidence" amounts to nothing more than worthless trinkets, braggadocious group chats, and otherwise protected political speech.
It now appears that one key piece of evidence was not the work of any defendant in this case but rather written by a one-time government intelligence asset with unusual ties to both the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, another group involved in January 6.