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What is the ‘1st Amendment Praetorian,’ the obscure far-right group subpoenaed by the January 6 committee?

The committee subpoenaed the 1st Amendment Praetorian, a group based in 2020 that recruits army veterans and former cops to offer safety at right-wing occasions.

Lawmakers additionally subpoenaed the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, extremist organizations with dozens of members who’re dealing with prison fees in reference to January 6. The panel mentioned these subpoenas may make clear how pro-Trump teams deliberate for violence that day.

Here’s what we find out about the 1st Amendment Praetorian and its ties to January 6.

The group’s title and brand invoke historic Rome and the Praetorian Guard of elite bodyguards and intelligence operatives that protected the Roman emperor. They are one in every of many far-right teams that acceptable Greco-Roman imagery to advertise political violence, in response to an evaluation from Pharos, a group at Vassar College that research these historic overlaps.
The 1st Amendment Praetorian’s website says the purpose is to “protect the Republic and anyone who is willing to stand up on her behalf to voice their opinion or bring attention to something they’ve found, like voter fraud.” They do that by offering safety at controversial occasions, together with at three pro-Trump rallies in Washington, DC, throughout the presidential transition.

Like many paramilitary teams, they recruit US army veterans, retired legislation enforcement and ex-members of the intelligence group. Their website says their members should attend month-to-month coaching classes.

The group did not reply to CNN’s request for remark Wednesday on the subpoena.

So far, nobody affiliated with the 1st Amendment Praetorian has been charged by the Justice Department in reference to the assault on the US Capitol, in response to CNN’s evaluation of court docket filings.

Who is the group’s chief?

The group was based by Robert Patrick Lewis, an Army veteran who served in the Special Forces, who describes himself as an “author… entrepreneur, political junkie (and) investor.”

(*6*)In a letter to Lewis about the subpoena, the committee quoted a few of his earlier statements about January 6. He mentioned he was coordinating with former Trump adviser Michael Flynn and “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander, who pushed voter fraud conspiracies earlier than the assault.

“Today is the day the true battles begin,” Lewis tweeted at 2:18 p.m. on January 6, after the first wave of rioters breached the Capitol, which was broadcast dwell on nationwide tv.

Just a few hours later, the group’s Twitter account posted, “The cost of Truth is Pain. The greater the Truth, the greater potential for pain.” Rioters have been nonetheless in the constructing at the time of this tweet.

Lewis has appeared on outstanding QAnon on-line reveals, and posted his personal 10-minute video selling a few of the QAnon conspiracy theories, in response to an investigation by The Daily Beast. His group supplied safety at a significant QAnon convention held in Dallas earlier this yr.

Lewis did not reply to requests for touch upon Wednesday.

How are they tied to January 6?

The group supplied safety at pro-Trump rallies in November and December 2020 that have been adopted by violence and arrests on the streets of DC. They have been additionally current at a rally on January 5 that featured incendiary speeches from far-right provocateurs like Alexander and Roger Stone, and conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones.
Lewis was a featured speaker at the January 5 occasion. He invoked the American Revolution in his transient handle to the crowd, the place he in contrast the “Stop the Steal” motion to George Washington’s shock assault on pro-British troops after crossing the Delaware River in 1776.

“I am willing to get up here and walk into danger if we need if, if we need to be there, to make sure we don’t cede this country, and have my kids grow up in a Communist hellhole,” Lewis mentioned. “And I need each of you to fight as hard as you can to ensure that does not happen.”

The official allow for the occasion, accepted by the National Park Service, mentioned 25 “marshals” from Lewis’ group can be there to “help maintain order among participants.” The allow additionally mentioned these paramilitary guards can be “unarmed” and would “not act as police.”

What does the committee need?

Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, despatched the subpoena on to Lewis on Tuesday. The bipartisan panel is run by Democrats, together with two Republicans.

The subpoena calls for that Lewis flip over paperwork by December 7. The public model of the letter does not say what particular supplies are being requested. The letter references the incontrovertible fact that Lewis has beforehand mentioned that his members put on physique cameras whereas offering safety.

The subpoena additionally demanded that Lewis seem for a closed-door deposition on December 16. It is unclear how Lewis will reply or whether or not he’ll present as much as reply the panel’s questions.

1st Amendment Praetorian supplied safety at occasions “that amplified the former President’s unsupported claim that the election was stolen,” Thompson mentioned in a press release, including that the group “suggested that violence was imminent” in a Twitter submit two days earlier than January 6.

CNN has beforehand reported that the committee has requested different witnesses for details about the group. Many of the organizers and audio system at the January 5 rally, the place some 1st Amendment Praetorian members supplied safety, have already acquired subpoenas.

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