The feds’ political persecution of the Proud Boys took a wild turn after unintentionally leaked chat logs from FBI Special Agent Nicole Miller revealed she said she was ordered by her boss to “destroy” “338 items of evidence.”
The leaked chats also suggest Miller failed to reveal relevant communications to the defense, potentially spied on privileged attorney-client communications and was asked by another agent to “edit out that I was present” during a meeting with a Confidential Human Source Informant.
The shocking revelations were shared in a filing by Proud Boy Ethan Nordean’s (aka Rufio Panman) defense team on Thursday:
The feds are now claiming some of the leaked messages are “likely classified” in what appears to be a bid to hide this bombshell evidence from the jury.
As part of her testimony, prosecutors shared with defense lawyers a set of internal FBI messages that [FBI Special Agent Nicole Miller] had sent and received from colleagues related to the case — a standard production of evidence in criminal cases. To compile those exchanges, FBI headquarters sent Miller a spreadsheet of her messages — culled from a computer network classified at the “secret” level. Miller then reviewed the messages and filtered them to ensure only relevant, unclassified exchanges were included.
Miller sent her final list to prosecutors, who then packaged the messages into an Excel spreadsheet that they provided to defense lawyers. But unbeknownst to them, the messages Miller initially filtered out — including some that DOJ officials say are likely classified — were left in the final document as “hidden” rows in the Excel spreadsheet. Defense counsel stumbled upon them and began grilling Miller about them in front of jurors in the case.
But unbeknownst to them, the messages Miller initially filtered out — including some that DOJ officials say are likely classified — were left in the final document as “hidden” rows in the Excel spreadsheet. Defense counsel stumbled upon them and began grilling Miller about them in front of jurors in the case.
Overnight, Justice Department attorneys told the defense team they were concerned there had been a “spill” of classified information in the hidden messages they accessed. And on Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Kelly paused the trial — already in its third month — to determine how to handle the error.
It’s the latest hiccup in a seditious conspiracy trial that has been marked by excruciating delays and extended legal disputes. Prosecutors say Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio and four leaders of the group schemed to prevent the transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden. The group, according to the Justice Department, split into teams that helped engineer the breach of police lines and, ultimately, the building itself, when one of the defendants, Dominic Pezzola, smashed a Senate-wing window with a stolen riot shield.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jocelyn Ballantine, who is supervising the case for the Justice Department, acknowledged the likely “spill” of classified information Thursday morning. She raised particular concerns about a message sent to Miller by another agent who works on covert activity — and who she said did not work on the Proud Boys case — describing a supervisor’s order to “destroy 338 items of evidence.”
“That could impact a classified equity,” Ballantine said.
Defense lawyers cried foul, though, noting that the government’s claims of “classified” material arrived just as the defense sounded the alarm about the content of some of the inadvertently disclosed messages. While Miller testified Wednesday she had produced about “25 rows” of messages, defense lawyers said there were thousands of rows of hidden messages that included contents they contended were directly relevant to their case.
Some of the messages appeared to reveal that FBI agents accessed contacts between defendant Zachary Rehl and his attorney, which led Miller to tell a colleague she thought Rehl would take his case to trial. In another message, an FBI agent tells Miller, “You need to go into that CHS report you just put and edit out that I was present.” After defense attorneys began to press Miller about the attorney-client messages on Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors objected, and Kelly halted the trial to permit the parties to debate the matter.
This case was a fraud from the very beginning and it’s an absolute disgrace that it wasn’t thrown out.
You can see in the leaked texts above the FBI agents questioned whether they could make out a valid “conspiracy and not make a fool of ourselves.”
Though they have made fools out of themselves, whether that even matters in this DC kangaroo court still remains to be seen.