The following is an excerpt from HuffPost Senior Editor Andy Campbell’s new book, “We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism.”
Since the presidency of Richard Nixon, Roger Stone has been a troll sitting on the shoulders of powerful Republicans. His “Dirty Trickster” moniker derives from a career strangling for the right people. During the Trump years, Stone remained one of the president’s closest friends and loyal aides.
He has close ties with several Proud Boys and chaplains, particularly those involved in Florida politics near his home in Fort Lauderdale, and he is undoubtedly the gang’s closest ties to Trump’s inner circle. In an exclusive interview, Stone gave a rare, candid look at his relationship with the notorious far-right street gang.
He is a friend and confidante of gang president Enrique Tarrio, who is now in prison and awaiting trial on charges of seditious conspiracy, which the Justice Department calls his outsized role in the uprising at the US Capitol.,
The pair have appeared together on several occasions prior to 2018, and they make no secret of their mutual respect. Tario appears in the press to defend Stone whenever he ends up in court, and Stone promotes the Proud Boys and participates in 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 at the time investigating election interference and ties. was leading. Trump’s camp and Russian officials.
“Trust it. Don’t let them get you down – globalists, two-party monopolies, Robert Mueller, The Deep State, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post,” said Stone. “They want to wear us down Huh. Never give up fighting. We will be strong. ,
Stone agreed to an interview with me in May 2021, during a time when he was under public scrutiny for his proximity to the rebellion. He says he was in his DC hotel during the riots at the Capitol. But he made a variety of appearances with the Proud Boys in the days surrounding the incident and, in the morning, was captured on video by a group of Oath Keepers, some of the gang’s closest associates. He was later summoned by a House panel investigating the Capitol attacks, although he refused to cooperate with the investigation.
Interviewing people like Stone is a complicated and complicated type of dance. He’s a celebrity, a convicted liar, and a Trump sycophant, and like the child born out of three, he’s prone to self-serve word salads sandwiched between half-truths and deflections. He couldn’t decide question by question whether he was close to the Proud Boys; In one breath he said he was not associated with the gang, but “befriended certain individuals who were members of that organization.”
In another, he lamented that the Proud Boys, and Tario in particular, 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 over and over again by these powerful assets, you are labeled unfairly. And I think that’s what happened with the Proud Boys,” Stone told me. “‘They’re racists, they’re white supremacists, they’re violent, they’re criminals.’ No, none of that is true. Not in my experience.”
From the beginning, and throughout the 25-minute conversation, Stone reiterated the claim that if the Proud Boys were a criminal enterprise capable of causing violence or rebellion, he had no knowledge of, and had no part in, it. was. , And in any case, he argued, the perpetrators of anything attributed to the Proud Boys were the act of an individual, not a group.
“You can’t condemn everyone who is an Italian American because some Italian Americans have broken the law. It just doesn’t work that way.”
He worked hard to create distractions for the Proud Boys, even when there was no clear need to do so. Some of them seemed to be for self-preservation; Whenever he is asked about his ties to the gang or his whereabouts during the Proud Boys event, he begins a drama about the media’s mismanagement of his and the Proud Boys’ image.
But it was also clear that he had invested a considerable amount of emotional and professional capital in Tario. In fact, Stone admitted that he has been advising Tario and the Proud Boys directly for years, perhaps in the same way he would have advised Trump. He said that he provided his professional and personal input on his political goals and advised him on several occasions when he got into legal trouble or did something that was bad for his optics.
“I encouraged [Tarrio] When he wanted to run for Congress, even though I thought it was probably a frustrating exercise,” Stone said. “Enrique is someone who has had a tough life. But he is charismatic. And I think he has a great future if he wants to. though i’m afraid [he] CNN will be constantly stigmatized by the hypocrites, the real haters, the people who are really intolerant, the people of MSNBC… it’s a false fantasy. And it’s really very unfair.”
When asked if he thinks the Proud Boys can make a solid collective run for office going forward, Stone suggested they may be too “radical” to earn his support.
“I do not see him as an alternative political force. That’s not how I see them. I see him as a personal patriot who supports western values,” he said. “If you’re on the left, you can transcend your radical past. It’s not clear whether you can move a radical past to the right for a political future. Just not clear. It’s too early to say.”
Stone also mentored the gang after several of their members were jailed after an attack on protesters outside a GOP event in Manhattan in 2018. He said he believed the convicted Proud Boys could be fully acquitted if they had listened to him and hired him. Better lawyer, who could put the blame on Antifa and stand up for the founding of New York. He pushed the group’s founder, Gavin McInnes, to get a new representation for the Raiders.
“They should have hired a former state attorney general who could take” [New York Gov.] Andrew Cuomo on the front,” he said. “If the Proud Boys are violent, then Antifa and [Black Lives Matter] are violent. You can’t have it that way. Gavin [McInnes] knows I feel this way: I think he should have been better represented.”
After Tario takes over the reins, Stone tells him that the gang’s image is becoming too toxic for public consumption and suggests that he should simply change his name and start all over again.
“Two years ago I clearly told them that I think they should rename the organization and rebrand them completely. I think they have been completely stigmatized.”
When I asked if he had any ideas for his new name, he immediately retorted. “Yes, I would call them the Ancient Order of the Orange Men.”
This was clearly a reference to Trump and his iconic orange complexion that comes from a thick layer of TV makeup. Was Tario receptive to the new name?
“Not a little bit,” he said. “I would say completely indifferent.”
While Stone wasn’t super optimistic about their chances of real political success, he didn’t count the Proud Boys out entirely, though he said he didn’t know of any other members running for public office. Asked if he would support another Tario run, Stone said he would wait to find out how the allegations from January 6 affected him and the rest of the Proud Boys.
“I want to see the results of the current situation. I mean, you know, every American is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise.”
Even their openness to support means a lot. The Proud Boys soared to higher heights in the first few years of their existence than any other extremist group around them, particularly because of their high-level political ties. And those relationships have helped tarnish the image of the Proud Boys to the general public. They are now celebrated on the right as freedom fighters and demand their protection.
Excerpted from “We Are Proud Boys: How a Right-Wing Street Gang Ushered in a New Era of American Extremism” by Andy Campbell. Copyright © 2022. Available from Hachette Books, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.