The FBI had an informant in the crowd during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, the New York Times reported on Saturday. The report said the secret informant was a member of Proud Boys, and revealed the group "had no plans to engage in violence" on Jan. 6, and there were no preplanned discussions of storming the U.S. Capitol.
The informant, who was not identified, was affiliated with a Midwest chapter of the Proud Boys and began working with the FBI in July 2020. The informer, who was part of a group chat of other Proud Boys, shared a "detailed account of his activities," according to confidential records obtained by the Times.
The group checked into an Airbnb in Virginia on Jan. 5. Around 10 a.m. on Jan. 6, the informant said he met with members of other Proud Boys chapters at the Washington Monument, and then marched toward the U.S. Capitol.
"The records say that the informant entered the Capitol after debating whether to do so with his compatriots. He then told his handlers, according to the records, that after police officers informed him that someone — possibly the pro-Trump rioter Ashli Babbitt — had been shot inside the building, he left the through a window," the New York Times reported.
"On the eve of the attack, the records show, the informant said that the group had no plans to engage in violence the next day except to defend itself from potential assaults from leftist activists," the report revealed.
The informant notes, "Proud Boys leaders gave explicit orders to maintain a defensive posture on Jan. 6." During an interview with the FBI in April, the insider said that he "never heard any discussion that day about stopping the Electoral College process."
The FBI was investigating two Jan. 6 rally participants who were possibly Proud Boys members, and asked the informant to make contact with them.
Court papers claimed a Proud Boys leader from Philadelphia was talking about "normal conservatives" — what members of the group refer to as "normies" – causing a ruckus during the Capitol riot. On the morning of Jan. 6, the leader wrote on the group's Telegram channel, "I want to see thousands of normies burn that city to ash today."
After the Capitol was stormed, another Proud Boys leader purportedly said, "That was NOT what I expected to happen today. All from us showing up and starting some chants and getting the normies all riled up."
The informant "showed his handlers screenshots of an online chat board known to be popular among Trump supporters indicating that some so-called normal conservatives were planning to bring weapons to Washington in January." The records state there was no evidence from the informant showing that they intended to purposely instigate the "normal conservatives."
"While the F.B.I.'s standard practice is not to discuss its sources and methods, it is important to understand that sources provide valuable information regarding criminal activity and national security matters," the FBI told the Times in a statement.
Prosecutors have brought charges relating to the Capitol riot against more than 600 people, and filed conspiracy charges against 15 members of the Proud Boys for their alleged actions on Jan. 6.
A Reuters report in August alleged there was insufficient reason to believe that the Capitol riots was a coordinated attempt to launch an insurrection against the U.S. government. The report stated, "The FBI has found scant evidence that the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the result of an organized plot to overturn the presidential election result," citing four current and former law enforcement officials.