The threat investigation did not lead to charges. But its existence, now revealed by CNN, sheds new light on how federal prosecutors had already looked into the far-right organization’s ties to someone in former President Donald Trump’s orbit before the siege of the US Capitol in January.
Investigation after posting picture of judge
The 2019 investigation dates back to Stone’s criminal proceedings in the DC District Court, related to his congressional testimony about Trump campaign efforts to reach WikiLeaks in 2016. A Proud Boys contingent was a prominent fixture supporting Stone at his trial.
Stone — testifying at a court hearing in 2019 to explain the post — said at the time that a person working with him on his social media accounts had chosen it.
Then, at another hearing the same year, Stone named names. Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys, had been helping him with his social media, Stone said under oath, as had the Proud Boys’ Florida chapter founder Tyler Ziolkowski, who went by Tyler Whyte at the time; Jacob Engels, a Proud Boys associate who is close to Stone and identifies himself as a journalist in Florida; and another Florida man named Rey Perez, whose name is spelled Raymond Peres in the court transcript.
A few days later, federal authorities tracked down the men and gave them subpoenas to testify to a grand jury, according to Ziolkowski, who was one of the witnesses.
Ziolkowski and the others flew to DC in the weeks afterwards to testify.
“They asked me about if I had anything to do about posting that. They were asking me if Stone has ever paid me, what he’s ever paid me for,” Ziolkowski told CNN this week. When he first received the subpoena, the authorities wouldn’t tell Ziolkowski what was being investigated, but a prosecutor later told him “they were investigating the picture and if he had paid anybody,” Ziolkowski said. He says he told the grand jury Stone never paid him, and that he hadn’t posted the photo.
Tarrio and Engels did not respond to inquiries from CNN, and Stone declined to respond to CNN’s questions. The FBI’s Washington, DC, office did not respond to requests for comment from CNN.
A person familiar with the case said it had closed without resulting in any charges.
Since the crosshairs picture
Ziolkowski and Engels have stayed in touch with Stone, even up to and after the January 6 riot, Ziolkowski said.
When asked if he was being pursued by investigators after the crosshairs episode, Ziolkowski said, “I’m sure they’re keeping an eye on me.”
He, Tarrio and Engels have not been charged related to January 6.
“Were there Proud Boys that went in? Yes, and they’re idiots. They shouldn’t have gone in. But I’m going to support them because they are my brothers,” Tarrio told the paper, in response to a new lawsuit from a member of Congress and the NAACP against Trump and the Proud Boys, among others, on Tuesday. “But there was no plan to go into the Capitol. Unfortunately, one of my guys broke a window. Others trespassed. But there was no plan to even interrupt Congress.”