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Rep. Zoe Lofgren crashed Proud Boy Enrique Tarrio’s January 6 deposition to ask why he called her the C-word on Telegram

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., left. Enrique Tarrio, former national chief of the Proud Boys, right.Rep. Zoe Lofgren and Enrique Tarrio, the former national chief of the Proud Boys.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP, left; Stephanie Keith/Getty Images, right.

  • Rep. Zoe Lofgren interrupted the Proud Boys’ Enrique Tarrio’s Capitol-riot deposition.
  • The California Democrat asked Tarrio why he once called her a slur for women on Telegram.
  • The exchange is just one of many bizarre moments in Tarrio’s newly released deposition transcript.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren had just one question for Enrique Tarrio, according to the transcript from the ex-Proud Boys leader’s deposition before the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021.

Why, the California Democrat wanted to know, did you call me a “C-word” on your Telegram channel?

Their brief exchange — Tarrio would claim ignorance of the slur, and Lofgren would hop right back out of the virtual deposition — is just one of several bizarre moments from a newly released transcript of Tarrio’s lengthy grilling in spring before the House committee.

Tarrio is on trial at the US District Court in Washington, DC, defending himself against seditious-conspiracy charges in connection with the attack. Opening statements and the start of testimony are expected in the first week of January.

The 231-page transcript released Wednesday night gives a hint of Tarrio’s coming defense.

It shows him portraying the Proud Boys — defined as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and an extremist group by the FBI — as something of a haphazard, decentralized Rotary Club.

Members — Tarrio said he couldn’t tell the committee how many there were, even roughly — rose to the highest ranks through “good works,” he testified, such as “a bicycle and toy drive for Christmas.” 

“The Proud Boys didn’t do an insurrection. That’s not what they do. They drink,” Tarrio’s lawyer Dan Hull said at one point during the deposition, calling them “a satirical kind of goofy group of people.”

“It’s like, ‘Don’t believe your lying eyes,'” Jon Lewis, a research fellow at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, told Insider after reviewing the transcript Thursday.

“It’s like, ‘You couldn’t have really seen us do what we did on January 6 because we are a good organization, just a bunch of guys who like to get together and drink beer,'” Lewis said. 

Federal prosecutors have a different view of the Proud Boys, saying the five defendants and 200-plus members who showed up that day were the brutalizing spear tip to the attack.

Tarrio’s codefendant Dominic “Spaz” Pezzola, a Proud Boys lieutenant from Rochester, New York, is accused of being first to breach the Capitol, breaking a window with a riot shield forcibly stolen from a Capitol Police officer.

Pezzola bragged afterward that he would have killed then-Vice President Mike Pence if given the chance, the feds allege.

With 160 known chapters across the country, the extremist hate group remains active, Emily Kaufman, a researcher with the Anti-Defamation League, told Insider. 

They were active during the summer’s Pride Month and have been agitators over the winter holidays at LGBTQ events, particularly the Drag Queen Story Hours hosted at schools and libraries, she said.

“We would have expected that they would be decimated by these arrests,” Kaufman said of the more than 40 Proud Boys charged in the Capitol attack. “Instead, they have found this niche.”

Lofgren, a vocal member of the January 6 committee, shows up about one-quarter of the way into Tarrio’s deposition, on Page 51 of the transcript.

“I see that Ms. Lofgren has come onto video,” a committee lawyer whose name is redacted is recorded as saying. “Ms. Lofgren, do you have a question?”

“Well, I did have a brief question,” the congresswoman responded.

“Mr. Tarrio,” she told him. “I have received a copy of a post from you, and it’s ‘Enrique’s House of Propaganda’ from your — ‘Tarrio’s Telegram.'”

The House of Propaganda channel has since been taken down, Lewis of George Washington University said.

“And it’s a picture of me holding a piece of paper at a microphone in the Judiciary Committee, and the caption from you is, ‘This — I’m going to spell it out, c-u-n-t — is blind in one eye.'”

“I’m wondering,” she said, “what you meant by that?” 

Tarrio responded, “I wish I could reference the post, Ms. — how do you pronounce your name? I’m sorry.”

“Lofgren,” the congresswoman responded.

“Lofgren,” Tarrio repeated. “I wish I could — I wish I had that in front of me where I could see it.” 

He then promised to “take a look at it” and get back to the committee.

Then he said he didn’t know whether he wrote the post. 

“There’s multiple people that run Telegram channels, specifically mine, too,” he said.

“Alright,” Lofgren said. “I yield back.”

She apparently clicked out of the video deposition at that point. But several pages later, the committee lawyer circled back.

“So you did call Ms. Lofgren” that slur? the lawyer asked.

“No,” Tarrio answered. “I don’t even remember typing that.” 

“So somebody using your account called Ms. Lofgren” the slur? the committee lawyer asked.

“Like, I — I mean, I stated this previously. That account’s administered by a lot of people.” 

At this point, Tarrio’s lawyer cut in. 

“What’s the significance of being called that word?” he asked.

“That’s a word that’s been around since 1300s in London. It’s not a particularly nice word for a lot of people, but —” 

Here Tarrio, his client, cut him off, apparently highly interested: “You know the history of that word?” 

“I do,” the lawyer told his client, “unfortunately.”

There followed a brief back and forth in which both Tarrio and his lawyer complained about the lack of “context” in Lofgren’s inquiry into the word’s use by — someone.

“Does the context matter?” the committee lawyer asked.

“I just don’t understand why that’s just such a big deal,” Tarrio’s lawyer said, dismissing Telegram as “just kind of a really nasty Irish bar scene.”

In other testimony, Tarrio told the committee there was nothing nefarious about then-President Donald Trump responding, “Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” when asked during the September 2020 presidential debate what he wished to tell white-supremacist groups.

Trump, Tarrio suggested, was encouraging the Proud Boys to prepare for the election through nonviolent actions, “Like, ‘Let’s go rally!'”

Tarrio told committee members: “I took it to be, like, ‘Hey, the election’s coming up. Stand by.’

“I also believe that he meant, like, ‘Stand by me as the president,’ Like, I’ve never, like, failed.”

Lewis countered that members of the extremist group saw “stand back and stand by” as “a call to arms.” One Proud Boy member testified before the committee that membership “tripled” as a result of Trump’s remark.

“They didn’t see this as, ‘Oh, hey, we got a shout out on TV. We should make sure to go vote,'” Lewis told Insider.

The transcript captures Tarrio alternating between pleading the Fifth, which he did more than a dozen times, and offering detailed tangential observations.

These included that he’s, “Not a big Obama fan, because of socialized health care,” and that Trump was “a great president” who “said it how he felt” and “didn’t give us more wars.”

“I don’t think that January 6th should’ve happened,” Tarrio said.

“I wish I can take — I wish I could get in a time machine and stand in front of the police line and speak to those people in front of that line, and say, ‘Don’t do it.’

“I wish I can do that,” Tarrio, who said he still considered himself a Proud Boy, told the committee. “I can’t.”

Federal prosecutors tell a different story. They have quoted Tarrio as saying, “Make no mistake. We did this,” on an encrypted chat channel moments after Pezzola is accused of breaking that first Capitol window at 2:24 p.m. on January 6. 

“Do it again,” the feds say Tarrio chatted two hours later when his lieutenants asked him what to do next.

Tarrio’s February 4 deposition came just three days after he was sprung from a Washington, DC, jail for burning a historic church’s Black Lives Matter banner. It was just one month before his March arrest in connection with the Capitol attack.

The Proud Boys seditious-conspiracy trial follows the November seditious-conspiracy conviction of the Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and is expected to last about six weeks.

Read the original article on Business Insider