A Proud Boy told the January 6 panel that membership in the organization 'tripled' after Trump told them to 'stand back and stand by'

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Insurrectionists in the Capitol
Supporters of Donald Trump broke past Capitol Police into Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to stop the electoral vote certification.Photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images
  • Proud Boy Jeremy Bertino said Donald Trump's comment made the group's numbers triple.

  • Bertino said membership grew "exponentially" after Trump's call to "stand back and stand by."

  • Bertino added that there was likely "potential for a lot more" members after those comments.

A high-ranking member of the Proud Boys told the January 6 panel that membership in the organization "tripled" after former President Donald Trump told them to "stand back and stand by."

Trump made the comments during a debate in September 2020. The former president was asked to disavow white supremacist groups and urge them to "stand down." But instead of doing so, Trump said: "Proud Boys, stand back and stand by."

A clip of an interview with Proud Boys member Jeremy Bertino aired during the televised January 6 hearings on Thursday night. He said Trump's comments were a watershed moment for the group.

Bertino was asked if the number of Proud Boys members increased specifically after Trump's comments.

"Exponentially," Bertino said. "I'd say, tripled, probably. With the potential for a lot more eventually."

Bertino was a high-profile member of the Proud Boys, based out of North Carolina. He was the subject of an FBI search of his home in March this year but has not been arrested.

The televised hearing also featured a clip of former Proud Boys chair Enrique Tarrio, who said he saw the speech as a galvanizing moment for their movement and admitted he regretted not selling shirts of the "stand back and stand by" phrase.

"One of the vendors on my page actually beat me to it, but I wish I would've made a 'stand back stand by' t-shirt," Tarrio said in his interview with the House committee.

Several Proud Boys have been charged in connection with the violence that unfolded at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

On Monday, the Justice Department charged Tarrio and four other Proud Boys with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Capitol attack, adding to preexisting criminal accusations from January 6.

The DOJ is working to prosecute the more than 860 people arrested in connection with the attack. The DOJ said the January 6 committee also plans to publicly release the transcripts of more than 1,000 interviews with witnesses in September.

Read the original article on Business Insider