A federal lawsuit filed last month seeking monetary damages from two far-right groups, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, and their senior members linked to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was designed with an ambitious goal in mind: to impinge on their financial earnings and snuff out their operations.
"If it so happens we bankrupt them, that's a good day," Karl Racine, the attorney general of Washington, D.C., who is partnering with other organizations in the suit, said at a news conference last month.
Now, the civil case is taking shape as the federal government's sprawling criminal investigation into the Capitol attack ensnared a prominent figure of the movement on Thursday, Oath Keepers leader and founder Stewart Rhodes, who was arrested on a charge of seditious conspiracy.
Whether the group will survive in its current form remains to be seen, but the objective in Racine's suit will test the limits in the fight against far-right extremists. The legal strategy behind it was used as recently as last November in the civil trial in Charlottesville, Virginia, against organizers of the far-right rally that erupted in deadly violence in 2017.
And it's a tactic that has worked before.