(Ken Silva, Headline USA) After he was fired from his position with The New Yorker for masturbating during a Zoom conference call with his colleagues, Jeffrey Toobin apparently used his free time to write a book that compares the Oklahoma City bombing with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Hill protest.
Toobin’s book, Homegrown: Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism, is set to hit the shelves on May 2. Headline USA obtained a pre-publication copy to review, and it didn’t take long to spot blatant misinformation.
Indeed, on the first page of the manuscript, which was marked “uncorrected proof,” Toobin wrote that the Proud Boys crafted a document called “1776 Returns,” which is described as a nine-page plan for storming the Capitol.
This statement is false—or, at best, misleading. The Jan. 6 Select Committee found last year that the document originated with Samuel Armes, who works in the cryptocurrency industry and has ties to the U.S. national security state.
In an interview last July, Armes told the J6 committee that he initially began working on a document to plan for worst-case scenarios as a “wargaming” exercise amidst the civil unrest of mid-2020. That document ended up being passed to Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio through a mutual friend, Erika Flores, and ended up morphing into what’s now the 1776 Returns record, according to Armes.
Armes also told the J6 Committee he was trained to conduct wargaming strategies when he was being “groomed” to work for the FBI or CIA while attending the University of Southern Florida. He further told the committee that he was never an employee of the FBI or CIA, but that he has worked for the State Department and for U.S. Special Operations Command out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Armes said the document he initially started was drastically altered by the time it was given to Tarrio—though by who, he doesn’t know.
“[Flores] asked if she could see it, and I said sure. And so I ended up sharing it with her on a Google Drive. And after that, I thought nothing of it. I would’ve never imagined that it turned into the document that I was shown last week, would’ve had zero clue, zero idea,” Armes said last year.
“I mean, it’s pretty horrifying to think that that document was even used and actually took from what I had written, which—obviously, you know, it’s horrific for me to even imagine that something that I would’ve written would’ve been used to source this kind of, like, I guess call it ‘terroristic document,’” he added.
However, Flores reportedly told the Jan. 6 Select Committee that the Armes did, in fact, draft the entire 1776 Returns document—though her interview with the J6 Committee is not publicly available. When the Jan. 6 Select Committee asked Armes if he could produce his original document, he said he couldn’t find it.
In February, Proud Boy defendant Dominic Pezzola, who faces a seditious conspiracy charge, attempted to use these revelations about the origin of the 1776 Returns document to seek a mistrial. Pezzola requested an evidentiary hearing to determine who really created the 1776 Returns document.
Pezzola argued that if it turns out that Armes really did author the entire document, “this means that the most damning document in this trial was authored by the intelligence community—someone ‘groomed’ by the FBI itself.”
“Ultimately, if the information laid out here is true, this seems to require mistrial and dismissal of this entire case, with prejudice,” Pezolla said in a February motion. “At a bare minimum, these new revelations require that all evidence relating to this document be stricken from the record and that the jury be given a stern instruction.”
However, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly shot down Pezolla’s motion last month, ruling on March 2 that the origins of relevance of 1776 Returns has nothing to do with Pezzola.
“As the Court has explained, it admitted the document because of the window the jury may conclude that it provides into Tarrio’s mental state,” Judge Kelly ruled. “For that purpose, the contents of the document, and that Tarrio had access to it, appears to have discussed it, and used a distinctive term from it are what matter.”
However, nothing in the judge’s ruling disputed the origin of 1776 Returns—though the judge did seem to uncritically accept Armes’s claim that his document had been “substantially altered,” despite him being unable to produce the original document.
Toobin’s assertion that the Proud Boys crafted 1776 Returns—without mentioning any of the controversies about the document’s origins—is but one of many instances where he spreads misinformation in his new book.
Headline USA is continuing to review Homegrown. Because the copy obtained by Headline USA is intended for prepublication only, exact quotes are not included in this review.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.