Last week, the Select Committee on Jan. 6 brought forward a pair of witnesses to testify in the panel’s first prime-time hearing to depict the Capitol riot as a coordinated “insurrection.” Among them was a documentary filmmaker named Nick Quested, who was embedded with the far-right group the “Proud Boys” on the day of the turmoil.
Quested gave the committee an eyewitness account of the riot as he followed the Proud Boys throughout the day.
“I filmed several rallies in Washington D.C. on December the 11th and December the 12th and I learned there would be a rally on the Mall and — on January 6th,” Quested said. “So my three colleagues and I came down to document the rally. According to the permit, the event there was going to be a rally at the Ellipse.”
After arriving at the National Mall, Quested added, he “observed a large contingent of Proud Boys marching towards the Capitol. We filmed them and almost immediately I was separated from my colleagues.”
Quested shared his footage from the demonstrations and how he “documented the crowd turn from protesters to rioters to insurrectionists.”
“Now a central question is whether the attack on the Capitol was coordinated and planned,” said Select Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., while wrapping up questions. “What you witnessed is what a coordinated and planned effort would look like. It was the culmination of a months-long effort spearheaded by President Trump.”
Except Quested did not testify that the Proud Boys attended first as insurrectionists. To the contrary, Quested told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” Sunday that the group’s leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, was “very receptive” to the documentary crew’s embed.
“How did you get Mr. Tarrio and other members of the Proud Boys to say, ‘Yes. Film us. We want this on the record. Document what we’re doing?” Todd asked.
“Well, I had a colleague who gave me Enrique’s phone number and I called him,” Quested said, before going on:
He was very receptive to the idea. He liked the film that I had produced called Restrepo with my colleagues Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, which was a film about a deployment of veterans in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. So I think the veteran aspect of that was appealing to them.
The leader of a group plotting a coordinated insurrection would normally be hard-pressed to allow a documentarian to film it, let alone be receptive to an embed.
Even if the Jan. 6 riot was coordinated, contrary to the FBI finding “scant evidence” of an “organized plot,” a coordinated attack would undermine the committee’s central claim of former President Donald Trump’s culpability.