And yet, prosecutors say, in late December, Mr. Tarrio, apparently planning for a pro-Trump “Save America” rally in Washington on Jan. 6, posted a message on the social media app Parler, telling the Proud Boys to attend the event in small teams and “incognito,” instead of in their trademark polo shirts. Those messages were quickly echoed both by Mr. Biggs and Mr. Nordean, prosecutors said.
Two days before the march, prosecutors noted, Mr. Nordean, who is sometimes known as Rufio Panman, posted an episode of his podcast, “Rebel Talk with Rufio,” on Parler in which he likened the Proud Boys to “soldiers of the right wing.” He also discussed what he described as “rampant voter fraud” in the presidential election, saying that the Proud Boys could not afford to be complacent, but had to “bring back that original spirit of 1776 of what really established the character of what America is.”
On the day of the Capitol attack, Mr. Nordean, a burly 30-year-old from Washington State, joined Mr. Biggs, a former soldier who lives in Florida, on the east side of the Capitol, prosecutors said, where they had mustered a large group of Proud Boys, many of whom were wearing orange hats, apparently as an identifying marker. In a video of the gathering, someone in the crowd was captured yelling, with an expletive, “Let’s take the Capitol!”
Moving into the streets, Mr. Biggs and Mr. Nordean then led the Proud Boys to a pedestrian entrance to the Capitol grounds, prosecutors said, where a much larger crowd was already confronting the Capitol Police, positioned behind a waist-high metal barrier. After the crowd broke through the barrier, court papers said, Mr. Nordean and some of his fellow Proud Boys surged toward the building, where another line of officers tried to stop them from entering.
It was amid this chaos, prosecutors said, that Mr. Nordean spoke with Mr. Gieswein, a 24-year-old Coloradan who has been accused in a federal complaint of having links to the right-wing militia group the Three Percenters. While no court papers reflect what Mr. Nordean may have said to Mr. Gieswein, not long after the conversation, Mr. Gieswein helped to lead the first charge on the Capitol, climbing through a broken window carrying a baseball bat.
That window, prosecutors said, had been shattered only moments earlier by another man, a Proud Boy from Rochester, N.Y., named Dominic Pezzola. Mr. Pezzola broke the glass, according to court papers, with a plastic shield he stole from a police officer. After he followed Mr. Gieswein through the window, prosecutors say, Mr. Pezzola joined a crowd that confronted Eugene Goodman, the Capitol Police officer who held the mob at bay in a stairwell while members of Congress escaped.
Prosecutors have not offered evidence that Mr. Pezzola, 43, took orders from Mr. Biggs or Mr. Nordean, but they have noted in court papers that Mr. Biggs attended the riot with a walkie-talkie attached to his chest and that Mr. Pezzola wore an earpiece during the attack, perhaps as a way to communicate with others. Prosecutors have also accused Mr. Pezzola of conspiring with another Proud Boy from New York, William Pepe, 31, to obstruct and interfere with police officers protecting the Capitol. (Mr. Pezzola’s former lawyer, Michael Scibetta, said he did not think the two men knew each other.)