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Washington CNN  — 

After months of legal battles, infighting between defense lawyers and dozens of rejected mistrial motions, the federal criminal trial against five Proud Boys accused of plotting to attack the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, moved to its final stage Monday.

One prosecutor and two defense attorneys gave their closing arguments to the Washington, DC, jury tasked with deciding whether Enrique Tarrio, Dominic Pezzola, Zachary Rehl, Joseph Biggs and Ethan Nordean are guilty of several federal crimes, including seditious conspiracy.

The Justice Department’s Conor Mulroe argued that the defendants stirred fellow members of the far-right Proud Boys toward violence in the lead up to January 6 and directed them that day to attack the iconic building.

Attorneys for Nordean and Rehl repeatedly said that the mountains of evidence only showed vulgar, stupid messages from their clients and violence from others in the crowd on January 6 – none of which amounted to the seditious conspiracy charge their clients face.

All five of the defendants have pleaded not guilty. Closing arguments are expected to continue into Tuesday.

DOJ: ‘The Capitol was the focus from the start’

In the lead-up to January 6, Mulroe argued, the defendants were infuriated by then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss and began calling for revolutionary action to oppose the incoming administration.

“The founders of this country fought to create a nation where the leader is chosen by the will of the people and power is handed over peacefully following a process of law,” Mulroe said. “These defendants saw themselves as Donald Trump’s army, fighting to keep their leader in power no matter what the law or the courts had to say about it.”

Mulroe showed the jury countless messages and videos the defendants sent to one another in the weeks and months before the attack, calling for violence against politicians, police and left-wingers, arguing the five men “had been thirsting for violence and organizing for action.”

“To these defendants, politics was no longer something for the debating floor or voting booth. To them, politics meant actual physical combat, a battle between good and evil in the most literal sense,” Mulroe said.

“The Capitol was the focus from the start,” he said. “They made it plain as day why they were there. It was not to see Donald Trump’s speech, it was not to protect patriots, it was certainly not to protest peacefully. They were there to threaten and, if necessary, use force to stop the certification of the election.”

As the attack unfolded, Mulroe said, several of the defendants took part in breaking down police barriers, signaled directions to one another, and at a critical moment when police had reestablished a line in front of the Capitol, the men pressed forward.

Playing the jury audio clips of panicked US Capitol Police officers begging for backup as the mob breached the Capitol grounds, Mulroe said, “That is what it looks like when the process of government is brought to a screeching halt. Those radio calls are the sound of a 200-year tradition of the peaceful transfer of power being shattered.”

He added: “Ladies and gentlemen, this was a national disgrace. To them, it was mission accomplished. They had done it. They had stopped the certification.”

But in the days after the riot, Mulroe said, and the defendants became angry more wasn’t done to keep Trump in power.

“They came up short,” Mulroe added. “So now, they are facing consequences.”

Defense attorney: ‘Even if you don’t like what some of them say, it doesn’t make them guilty’

Defense attorneys told jurors their clients never entered a conspiracy to attack the Capitol and chided prosecutors for trying to connect their clients to Trump.

Nordean’s attorney, Nicholas Smith, argued that prosecutors only used the infamous video from a 2020 debate stage where Trump told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” to rile up the jury.

“It was played to manipulate you into confusing your dislike for a politician with whether these men are guilty of a crime,” Smith said. “Whatever the former president’s personal crimes are, you have seen no evidence that Mr. Trump conspired with Ethan Nordean from Seattle.”

The prosecutors’ case, Smith said, “was designed to make you hate these men and find them fearful,” adding that several of the statements shown by prosecutors were from before January 6 and that videos of violence between Proud Boys and others played for the jury were from past rallies immediately after the 2020 election.

“The loud sounds and scary and chaotic scenes” from those rallies, Smith argued, were tactic by prosecutors. “It was designed to make you hate these men and find them fearful,” he said.

Smith and Carmen Hernandez, who represents Rehl, argued there was not a single message, video or statement from the defendants outlining a specific plan to stop Congress’ certification of the 2020 presidential election on January 6.

Hernandez also rebuked the “mountain of evidence” prosecutors showed as inflammatory, saying that “much of it, in my humble opinion, (had) nothing to do with Mr. Rehl.”

“We think these guys are racist and sexist,” Carmen said, pointing at the five defendants sitting in the courtroom, “and they may be. But that’s not what they’re charged with. Even if you don’t like what some of them say, it doesn’t make them guilty.”

Prosecutors looked at over “half a million” messages between members of the Proud Boys organization, Hernandez said, including some from the defendants, and “there is not a single message where they wrote the plan is to go attach the Capitol and take it down. There is a lot of trash talk … but not once in 500,000 messages.”

Both Hernandez and Smith told jurors that while their clients acted inappropriately, neither of them had come to Washington, DC, as part of an explicit plan for violence in the Capitol.

“Were not debating for a second that it wasn’t inappropriate for a person to go into the Capitol building, of course it was,” Smith said, adding that Nordean “should not have gone into the Capitol. He should not have been where he was.”