Among the rioters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, at least one was texting his FBI handler, reports the New York Times. One member of the far-right group Proud Boys who was attending the protest-turned-riot was keeping the FBI informed about what was going on, reveals the Times, citing confidential records. The records that the paper obtained don’t reveal the informant’s identity and only state that he was affiliated with a Midwest chapter of the group. Although it seems the informant didn’t know in advance that there was going to be a storming of the Capitol, the records do suggest law enforcement officials had a much clearer understanding of what was happening on the ground than what was previously known.
The informant describes meeting with other members of the Proud Boys that morning near the Washington Monument. According to the informant’s version of events, members of the Proud Boys were largely following and not leading. Members of the group that is infamous for starting violent street fights, were allegedly “following a pro-Trump mob consumed by herd mentality,” reports the Times. The informant apparently had a long debate with other members of the group about whether to actually enter the Capitol which they did but the informant then left through a window after a police officer told him someone had been shot inside.
While the informant may have given law enforcement a closer look at what was happening that day, it could also now complicate efforts to prove there was some grand plot to storm the Capitol. The informant has vehemently denied the Proud Boys had the intention to be violent that day and were not planning to storm the building. But there’s also no suggestion the informant was anywhere near any sort of leadership position in the organization, which in turn raises questions about how well the FBI is tracking far-right groups. Prosecutors have so far filed conspiracy charges against 15 Proud Boys members, who are among the more than 600 people facing charges in connection to the Capitol riot.