Quested and his producing associate Sebastian Junger took an interest within the far-right group, the Proud Boys, and adopted them within the weeks main as much as January 6. Quested, who captured key footage of the group in the course of the assault on the Capitol, shared his work and his private account of the occasions of that day in the course of the committee’s first televised listening to.
He informed me concerning the scenes of mayhem that he and his colleagues filmed that day, in addition to the mysterious assembly between the leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, one other far-right group, that befell in a Washington, DC, parking storage the evening earlier than the assault on the US Capitol.
Disclosure: I’ve appeared as an interviewee in one in all Quested’s documentaries. Our interview was edited for readability.
PETER BERGEN: Why did you determine to testify?
NICK QUESTED: As a result of we’re approaching dwelling in a post-factual world, and I believe it is essential that these information about January 6 are delivered to bear and in an unpartisan method, particularly if we will use these hearings to make it possible for one thing like this by no means occurs once more.
BERGEN: And also you had a subpoena to look earlier than the committee?
QUESTED: I had a subpoena. I spoke to the authorities in an interview beforehand, however once they have been utilizing my work in the way in which that they did, I felt it was solely applicable for them to subpoena me.
BERGEN: Your work — did you simply hand it over to them, or did they request it? How did that work?
QUESTED: Properly as a journalist, having filmed what have been probably many crimes, I did not really feel there was any journalistic jeopardy giving that to authorities. I referred to as a buddy who’s a US Legal professional, and I mentioned, “Pay attention, I’ve filmed I do not know what number of crimes. What do you assume I ought to do with this?” He mentioned, “We’ll name the DC Felony Division.” I used to be then referred to an agent from the FBI. And we nonetheless needed to course of the footage as a result of we shoot very high-quality video, which must be processed. So, we did that after which I gave it to the FBI.
BERGEN: On the morning of January sixth, what occurred when it comes to the Proud Boys?
So I assumed that is what we have been doing once more. And we walked across the Capitol, and nonetheless they have been marching. They’re singing their songs. It felt like hooligans at a soccer match. There have been bawdy jokes. There’s kind of been an evolution within the Proud Boys, and at one level, folks mentioned that they have been a ingesting membership with a political downside. I would say they seem to be a political membership with a ingesting downside now.
And it wasn’t till that crowd moved close to the barrier across the Capitol that I felt the world shift. At 12:54 pm, I really feel the commotion and run over, and shortly, the limitations are coming down and individuals are streaming ahead and working in the direction of the Capitol.
BERGEN: Had been you frightened?
QUESTED: I wasn’t frightened at that time. However the language had began to vary. There have been extra challenges to police to “respect their oath” and feedback like, “We pay your wages. Do your job. Select a facet. Respect the oath.” After which individuals are beginning to kick down the following fence. They’re beginning to break up the fence and take items out of it to make use of as makeshift weapons, and it was totally different. It felt like some folks have been in rapture. It felt like a campaign, like they felt they have been proper, and so they have been unappreciative of the irony of utilizing violence to overthrow a constitutionally elected physique and justifying that violence by citing the Structure.
BERGEN: Their interpretation of the Structure.
BERGEN: How and when did you determine to profile the Proud Boys?
QUESTED: In the summertime of 2020, I used to be chatting with the struggle reporter and my producing associate Sebastian Junger, and we have been speaking concerning the psyche of the nation at the moment. We have been within the first few months of Covid-19. Individuals have been scared as a result of they’d no concept what this virus’ potential was. The hospitals have been full. There was a hospital ship within the harbor in New York. The emergency rooms have been overflowing. There have been tales within the papers about stress on the meals provide and Covid ripping by means of meatpacking vegetation.
After which you’ve gotten the homicide of George Floyd, and also you actually have medieval-style pitched battles within the cities of America. And we requested ourselves this query: Why is America so divided when Individuals have a lot in frequent?
So, we thought, let’s have a look at what the far proper has to say and what the far proper and the far left even have in frequent right here. And we wished to ask each side: What does it imply to be American? If you cannot outline it, then how are you going to discover commonality, if there may be commonality available right here?
BERGEN: So, you reached out to the Proud Boys.
QUESTED: Yeah. We referred to as up the Proud Boys. On November 4, 2020, when President Donald Trump falsely claimed that he gained the election earlier than a winner had been declared, we have been like, “Oh, right here you go.” As a result of one of many elementary tenets of America is having a peaceable switch of energy. I referred to as up Enrique Tarrio, the pinnacle of the Proud Boys. He favored the movie “Restrepo” that struggle reporter Tim Hetherington, Sebastian, and I made collectively. And he simply mentioned to return down. So we went right down to DC on December 11, 2020 and began working.
BERGEN: When a revolution occurs, even the revolutionaries typically don’t know what will occur. To what extent did the Proud Boys know this was going to occur on January 6?
QUESTED: I do not know. We did undoubtedly take a look at the Proud Boys and say, “Properly, are Proud Boys Jacobins? Are they Brown Shirts? Or are they soccer hooligans?” Or is it simply Trumpism? As a result of that was a really unifying issue all through the Proud Boys. There are not any RINOs within the Proud Boys. It’s the cult of Trump, and so they have been the muscle.
BERGEN: The footage that you’ve, why is it of curiosity to the committee, and what does it present?
QUESTED: It was shot with very high-end cameras at a really excessive decision with high-quality lenses by skilled skilled journalists. There have been three of us there and likewise a freelancer that we met on the day. I used to be capturing as effectively. So, principally, what we’ve is a full view of the day as a result of, despite the fact that we have been separated firstly, we managed to have parallel experiences which have nexus factors. We have been capable of lower documentary scenes from totally different angles as a result of we’re all seeing the identical elements on the similar time.
BERGEN: What are the important thing scenes?
QUESTED: The Proud Boys strolling down the Mall, the Proud Boys at lunch, the limitations coming down, the Proud Boys simply because the limitations come down on the West Plaza of the Capitol, the struggle on the decrease West Plaza, and the struggle on the tunnel on the west facet of the Capitol.
BERGEN: The battle scene within the tunnel? You have been there?
QUESTED: I used to be there.
BERGEN: What did you see?
QUESTED: Chaos and mayhem. I imply, mayhem within the true sense of the phrase.
BERGEN: Had you ever seen that in america?
QUESTED: I’ve not seen that in america, no.
BERGEN: Have you ever seen it anyplace?
QUESTED: Yeah. I’ve seen it around the globe.
BERGEN: The place?
QUESTED: Venezuela 2017, Nicaragua 2018.
BERGEN: Had been you scared?
QUESTED: I wasn’t scared as a result of I am so dwelling within the second, and my job is to doc this. I’ve a job. So, I concentrate on my job. I obtained beat up fairly dangerous. My digicam was damaged. I obtained shot by a beanbag or pepper balls. I obtained tear-gassed.
BERGEN: What was that like?
QUESTED: Properly, it isn’t nice. It isn’t nice since you’re in an enormous crowd, and you recognize nobody on this crowd. You lose all sense of consciousness, every thing. However for all these within the crowd who have been violent, there have been many individuals that have been simply there to witness the occasion. They may have chanted or no matter, however there have been additionally folks there serving to others. Somebody got here and poured water into my eyes, and I used to be like, “Do not try this?” as a result of I used to be apprehensive I used to be going to get Covid. And I used to be like I would fairly be tear-gassed.
My telephone did not work, so I could not talk what I used to be doing till principally six o’clock, after I referred to as my household and mentioned it is all good.
BERGEN: You additionally filmed a gathering on January 5 between the leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers?
BERGEN: And what have been they doing there?
QUESTED: Ostensibly, they mentioned they have been assembly to debate the problem that Enrique felt he had, which was that he had introduced additional capability gun magazines into DC, which is against the law.
However there have been additionally discussions about his communications and the way they have been probably compromised. I heard him say, “I need to keep near my boys,” and assumed he was having a dialogue about the place he was going to go subsequent. However that is all I heard.
I used to be near them however on the request of Enrique Tarrio, I put down my digicam. My colleague Nico Lupo, who was roughly 20 ft away from Tarrio and Rhodes, was filming from behind a automobile, so the mic wasn’t choosing up the sound in addition to we’d have hoped.
BERGEN: Do you assume it was a planning assembly for the next day?
QUESTED: I do not know. I can not say it was a planning assembly. I can inform you it appears fairly dangerous that you simply see the 2 leaders of the 2 teams which were charged with seditious conspiracy in a gathering beforehand, however I can not say what they have been doing.
BERGEN: What are your hopes in your movie?
QUESTED: Properly, so we pivoted from our movie about why America is so divided to a movie that appears on the 64 days from the 2020 presidential election to January 6, 2021.
BERGEN: Is there curiosity on this movie?
QUESTED: It took a number of time to get curiosity on this movie. We made an experiential movie, which was simply footage from the day, and we submitted it to a bunch of movie festivals and hardly even obtained a reply, and after we did get a reply, they have been like, “No, thanks. We’re not right here to present any oxygen to those folks.” And I mentioned, “But when we do not focus on this and convey reality to gentle, then how are we going to make this higher?”
So, our movie desires to put out the information of what occurred in these 64 days in a good and goal method as we probably can.
BERGEN: How a lot time did you spend with the committee and their investigators?
QUESTED: I had a number of interviews, however my testimony of file lasted for seven hours.
BERGEN: What have been the important thing factors that you simply made?
QUESTED: Mainly, my testimony revolves round my footage. So, I used to be explaining the context for my footage and what I noticed.
BERGEN: Your total life is about reporting and making a story. Is that what the congressional committee is doing?
QUESTED: I believe that’s, however, you recognize, we’re in a world the place the narrative is pushed by the politics.
BERGEN: Do you assume these hearings will lay out the evidentiary foundation of what occurred on January 6?
QUESTED: I believe they’ll. From my conversations and the road of questioning, I believe that they’ve a bunch of investigative counsels which might be legitimately concerned about having the ability to present the reality and show it.
BERGEN: And you did not have any downside cooperating with them as a journalist?
QUESTED: Look, I am within the enterprise of reality, and I believe they’re within the enterprise of reality, and nevertheless folks use the reality, that is not my curiosity. My curiosity is having the reality on the market.
BERGEN: Did you ever think about that you’d be the place you have been testifying on Thursday evening?
QUESTED: Oh, hell, no. I wish to ask the questions. I do not like answering questions.