The next is an excerpt from the brand new book “We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a Latest Era of American Extremism,” by HuffPost senior editor Andy Campbell.
Roger Stone has been the troll sitting on the shoulder of powerful Republicans since Richard Nixon’s presidency. His “dirty trickster” moniker derives from a profession of cutthroat weaseling for the fitting people. Throughout the Trump years, Stone remained considered one of the president’s closest friends and constant allies.
He also has close ties to multiple Proud Boys and chapters, especially those most involved in Florida politics near his home in Fort Lauderdale, and he stays for sure the gang’s closest connection to Trump’s inner circle. In an exclusive interview, Stone gave a rare, candid have a look at his relationship to the notorious far-right street gang.
He’s a friend and confidant to Enrique Tarrio, the gang’s chairman, who’s now sitting in jail awaiting trial on seditious conspiracy charges, over what the Justice Department calls his outsize role within the revolt on the U.S. Capitol.
The pair has appeared together on quite a few occasions dating back to 2018, they usually make no secret of their mutual respect. Tarrio makes press appearances in defense of Stone each time he results in court, and Stone boosts the Proud Boys and attends their events. In December 2018, the pair stood together in a video address to the gang, and Stone called on the Proud Boys to fight back against “globalists” and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who was on the time leading the investigation into election meddling and ties between Trump’s camp and Russian officials.
“Keep the religion. Don’t allow them to wear you down ― the globalists, the two-party duopoly, Robert Mueller, the deep state, The Wall Street Journal, The Latest York Times, The Washington Post,” Stone said. “They wish to wear us down. Never quit the fight. We’ll prevail.”
Stone agreed to an interview with me in May 2021, during a time when he was under immense public scrutiny over his proximity to the revolt. He maintains that he was in his D.C. hotel through the riots on the Capitol. But he made various appearances with the Proud Boys in the times surrounding the event and, on the morning of, was captured on video flanked by a gaggle of Oath Keepers, among the gang’s closest allies. He was later subpoenaed by the House panel investigating the Capitol attacks, though he refused to cooperate with the probe.
Interviewing people like Stone is a posh and confounding form of dance. He’s a celeb, a convicted liar, and a Trump sycophant, and like a toddler born of all three, he’s vulnerable to self-serving word salads sandwiched between half-truths and deflections. He couldn’t resolve from query to query whether he was near the Proud Boys or not; in a single breath he said he didn’t associate with the gang but “befriended specific individuals who happened to be members of that organization.”
In one other, he lamented that the Proud Boys, and Tarrio specifically, had been “stigmatized” by the media. He suggested that the Proud Boys were never violent or racist, despite a mountain of evidence proving otherwise.
“When a lie is repeated enough times over and yet again by these powerful assets, you get unfairly labeled. And I believe that’s what has happened to the Proud Boys,” Stone told me. “‘They’re racist, they’re white supremacists, they’re violent, they’re criminal.’ No, none of these items are true. Not in my experience.”
From the beginning, and throughout the 25-minute conversation, Stone repeated the claim that if the Proud Boys were a criminal enterprise able to carrying out violence or an revolt, he had no idea about any of it, and he had no part in it. And in any case, he argued, anything criminal attributed to the Proud Boys was the act of a person, not the group.
“You possibly can’t condemn everybody who’s an Italian American because some Italian Americans broke the law. It just doesn’t work that way.”
He worked hard to deflect for the Proud Boys, even when there wasn’t any apparent have to accomplish that. A few of that gave the impression to be for the sake of self-preservation; each time he’s asked about his relation to the gang or his whereabouts during a Proud Boys event, he launches right into a spiel in regards to the media’s mismanagement of his and the Proud Boys’ image.
But it surely was also clear that he had invested a substantial amount of emotional and skilled capital in Tarrio. Actually, Stone admitted that he’s been advising Tarrio and the Proud Boys directly for years, perhaps much in the identical way he might need advised Trump. He said he provided his skilled and private input on their political goals and on several occasions gave them advice after they got into legal trouble or did something that was bad for his or her optics.
“I encouraged [Tarrio] when he desired to run for Congress, though I assumed it was probably a hopeless exercise,” Stone said. “Enrique is any person who’s had a tricky life. But he’s charismatic. And I do think he’s got an ideal future if he wants one. Although I fear [he] will always be stigmatized by the creeps at CNN, the true haters, the oldsters who really are intolerant, the oldsters at MSNBC … It’s a false imagery. And it’s really tremendously unfair.”
Asked whether he thought the Proud Boys could make a solid collective run for office going forward, Stone suggested they may be too “radical” to earn his support.
“I don’t see them as an elective political force. That’s just not how I see them. I see them as individual patriots who support Western values,” he said. “Should you’re on the left, you possibly can transcend your radical past. It’s not clear whether you possibly can transcend a radical past on the fitting for a political future. Just not clear. Too early to say.”
Stone also gave the gang advice after several of their members were jailed following an attack on protesters outside a GOP event in Manhattan in 2018. He said he believes the convicted Proud Boys might need been exonerated completely in the event that they’d listened to him and hired a greater lawyer, one who could solid the blame on antifa and arise to the Latest York establishment. He pushed Gavin McInnes, the group’s founder, to get latest representation for the assailants.
“They need to have hired a former state attorney general who could have taken [New York Gov.] Andrew Cuomo on frontally,” he said. “If the Proud Boys are violent, then antifa and [Black Lives Matter] are violent. You possibly can’t have it a method. Gavin [McInnes] knows I feel this fashion: I believe they need to have been higher represented.”
After Tarrio took the reins, Stone told him that the gang’s image was growing too toxic for public consumption and suggested that he should just change their name and begin over.
“Candidly I told him a superb two years ago that I believe he should change the name of the organization and completely rebrand them. I believe they’ve been so thoroughly stigmatized.”
After I asked whether he had any ideas for his or her latest name, he shot back immediately. “Yes, I might have called them the Ancient Order of the Orange Men.”
It was obviously a reference to Trump and his iconic orange hue that comes from a thick layer of TV makeup. Was Tarrio receptive to the brand new name?
“Not within the slightest,” he said. “I might say completely disinterested.”
While Stone didn’t seem super optimistic about their possibilities at real political success, he didn’t count the Proud Boys out completely, though he said he wasn’t aware of another members running for public office. Asked whether he’d endorse one other Tarrio run, Stone said he would wait to gauge how the fees stemming from Jan. 6 affected him and the remainder of the Proud Boys.
“I’d prefer to see the outcomes of the present situation. I mean, , every American is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.”
Even his openness to endorsement means so much. The Proud Boys climbed to higher heights of their first few years of existence than another extremist group around them, specifically due to their high-level political connections. And people relationships have helped launder the Proud Boys’ image for most people. They’re now celebrated on the fitting as freedom fighters and sought out for his or her security.
Excerpted from “We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a Latest Era of American Extremism” by Andy Campbell. Copyright © 2022. Available from Hachette Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.