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Proud Boys' lawyers plan to subpoena Donald Trump in seditious conspiracy trial

The defense argues that the Proud Boys participated in the Jan. 6 riot because Trump "called on patriots to stop the steal." It’s far from certain that Trump will actually take the stand.
Then-President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from The Ellipse near the White House
President Donald Trump speaks to supporters from the Ellipse near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021.Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — Defense attorneys for five Proud Boys leaders intend to call former President Donald Trump to testify as a witness in their clients’ seditious conspiracy trial.

However, it remains unclear whether their effort will succeed.

Lawyers for Joe Biggs, a Proud Boys organizer from Florida, revealed a subpoena Thursday that would compel Trump’s appearance in March and said they would seek the Justice Department’s assistance with serving Trump.

“Donald Trump called on patriots to stop the steal,” said Biggs’ lawyer Norm Pattis. “We’re calling on Donald Trump to take the stand.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s far from certain that Trump will take the stand — Biggs and his defense team will have to deal with the logistical difficulties of serving a former president and current presidential candidate. Trump could also move to quash the subpoena, leading to more litigation. The judge in the case, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly, has not expressed a view on whether the subpoena should be permitted. 

It isn’t the first time a defendant charged in connection with the Jan. 6 riot has tried to put Trump on the witness stand. Dustin Thompson, an Ohio man who was eventually convicted on six counts related to the riot, raised the idea of subpoenaing Trump in February 2022. The judge in that case ruled that Trump’s testimony was inadmissible and blocked Thompson’s lawyer from issuing a subpoena. 

Biggs and his co-defendants — Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola — have been charged with seditious conspiracy, in addition to various other felonies. They are accused of plotting to use force to stop the transfer of presidential power on Jan. 6, 2021.

Six members of the far-right Oath Keepers organization, including founder Stewart Rhodes, were found guilty of seditious conspiracy for their own actions on Jan. 6.

Trump's words leading up to the Jan. 6 riot have been frequently invoked during the first month of the trial. Prosecutors have sought to emphasize the Proud Boys’ affinity for Trump, presenting it as motivation for their alleged plot to stop the certification of the 2020 election.

Members of the defense team have also sought to blame Trump for the riot. It was Trump who “unleashed the mob” on Jan. 6, Sabino Jauregui, a lawyer for Tarrio, said in opening statements last month.