Roger Stone was part of an encrypted group chat involving the leader of the Proud Boys and the leader of the Oath Keepers in the months leading up to Jan. 6, 2021. The chat was named F.O.S., or “Friends of Stone”, and was mentioned in Tuesday’s Jan. 6 Select Committee hearing, which promised to expose ties between allies of former President Donald Trump and extremist groups.
The existence of the encrypted chat was first reported in May by the New York Times, which said it had as many as 47 members. In addition to Proud Boy chairman Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keeper leader Stewart Rhodes, other participants included Infowars host Owen Shroyer and “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander. It’s not immediately clear when the chat was created. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, who led Tuesday’s hearing, said the committee had obtained the chats but divulged little additional information as to their contents. Raskin did say that Stone used that chat to communicate “regularly” with Rhodes and Tarrio, and that it focused on “various pro-Trump events in November and December of 2020, as well as Jan. 6.” Raskin also offered one example where Rhodes appeared to urge others to swarm state capitols in the event they couldn’t travel to D.C. The encrypted chat is more evidence of potential coordination between the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers ahead of Jan 6. and raises more questions about Stone’s role in the lead-up to the Capitol riot. Oath Keepers, including two who are facing seditious conspiracy charges, were acting as Stone’s security detail that day. Evidence of a pre-existing relationship between Tarrio and Rhodes—both of whom are now also facing seditious conspiracy charges—helps explain a mysterious meeting between the two men and other far-right activists in an underground parking garage in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 5. In April, court documents revealed that Florida Oath Keeper Kelly Meggs and Rhodes spent days discussing security plans for Trump allies like Stone via text. They also revealed that Meggs had a direct line to Tarrio. (He attempted to call him after learning of his misdemeanor arrest on Jan. 4 for crimes committed during a previous rally.) Many more questions remain following Tuesday’s hearing. Specifically, committee members have not yet identified a line (or lines) of communication between extremist leaders and Trump.Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.