Joseph Biggs, who says he was recruited by the FBI, is among the members of the Proud Boys who have been charged for their involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Daniel Hull, lawyer for Proud Boys organizer Joseph Biggs, claimed in a court filing on Monday that the FBI asked his client to provide intelligence on "antifa." The purported request came amidst a campaign by Donald Trump touting the dangers of the anti-fascism movement while downplaying right-wing terrorism.
Earlier this month, Biggs was charged with conspiracy relating to his alleged role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters.
According to Hull, Biggs met with FBI agents in July of 2020, and they asked him what he was "seeing on the ground." They reportedly kept in contact with Biggs via phone calls over the next few weeks.
"These talks were intended both to inform law enforcement about Proud Boy activities in Portland on a courtesy basis but also to ask for advice on planned marches or demonstrations," Hull wrote.
Around that same time, Trump was campaigning for reelection on a "law and order" platform, fueled by obsessive coverage by Fox News of the protests against racism and police brutality in Portland, Oregon.
Trump sent federal law enforcement to the city and made repeated references to quelling violent clashes, though, in reality, episodes of violence were rare among the largely peaceful protests occurring in a small section of the city. City officials blamed Trump's intrusion for ramping up violence, rather than helping the situation.
"He's actually using the federal police function in support of his candidacy," Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told NPR at the time. Wheeler described Trump's actions as a "last gasp effort" by "a failed president with sagging polling data."
While Trump was preoccupied with left-leaning protestors, he was far more muted on the Proud Boys, who have a history of racist and misogynist rhetoric alongside open support for violence.
Pressed during a presidential debate with Joe Biden to condemn white supremacy, Trump refused.
"Proud Boys — Stand back and stand by. But I'll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left, because this is not right-wing problem," he said.
On social media, the Proud Boys responded to Trump the next day, writing, "standing down and standing by sir."
After experiencing backlash for the exchange, Trump later claimed, "I don't know who Proud Boys are."
However, it was the Proud Boys, not leftist activists, who played a notable role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Multiple Proud Boys members have since been charged for their involvement in the attack on the Capitol.
Despite the charges, several Republican lawmakers made the claim that antifa supporters were involved in the attack.
In a speech on the House Floor, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), a close Trump ally, alleged there was "pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters."
"They were masquerading as Trump supporters, and in fact were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa," said Gaetz.
Soon after Gaetz's claim the facial recognition company in question, XRVision, said Gaetz's statement was not true.
In March 2 testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, FBI Director Christopher Wray further debunked the right-wing narrative.
"We have not to date seen any evidence of any anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th," Wray told the committee.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.