By Jan Wolfe and Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors charged six members of the right-wing militia group Three Percent with conspiring to attack the U.S. Capitol, the latest in a string of such charges stemming from the Jan.6 riot by supporters of the Former President Donald Trump.
The charges against the six men, all from California, were revealed in an indictment revealed Thursday in federal court in Washington. Two of them, Alan Hostetter and Russell Taylor, were seen the day before the riot with Roger Stone, a friend and adviser to Trump, during a protest in front of the United States Supreme Court against the result of the 2020 presidential elections.
Around 30 people, including members of two other right-wing groups, The Oath Keepers and The Proud Boys, have been charged with conspiracy, the most serious charges related to the riots. Those pending cases are the largest and most complex of the roughly 500 filed by the Justice Department since the attack.
The other three percent accused were Eric Scott Warner, Felipe Antonio “Tony” Martinez, Derek Kinnison and Ronald Mele.
Founded in 2008, Three Percenters is a loosely organized anti-government group that takes its name from the idea that only 3 percent of American settlers took up arms against the British in the American Revolution of the 18th century.
According to the indictment, Hostetter founded a group in 2020 called the American Phoenix Project that protested restrictions on public gatherings imposed as a public health measure during the COVID-19 pandemic. That group became a platform to defend violence against government leaders, according to the indictment.
As of December 2020, the six men hatched a plan using the encrypted messaging app Telegram to bring weapons to Washington and storm the Capitol, according to the indictment. Prosecutors said the men selected Jan.6 because of a Dec. 19 Trump Twitter post that reads: “Big protest in DC on January 6. Be there, it’ll be crazy!”
Prosecutors said December 4. 29 Taylor told his defendant co-conspirators on Telegram: “I personally want to be on the front steps and be one of the first through the doors!”
Hostetter did not immediately respond to requests for comment and the names of the defense attorneys for the other five men were not immediately available.
The pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, disrupted the formal Congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, faced an overwhelmed police force, and invaded the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. The violence left five dead, including a police officer.
Trump granted Stone a pardon in December, erasing his conviction stemming from a federal investigation that documented Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Stone did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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