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Tag: alex jones

Texas Court Slams Fraudster Alex Jones With Massive Default Judgment

Reprinted with permission from DailyKos

Conspiracy meister Alex Jones has been trying to stave off Judgment Day for a very long time. Ever since the parents of the murdered Sandy Hook Elementary students who were harassed by Jones' rabid followers filed a lawsuit to hold him accountable for his lies about their deaths, he has been playing a delay game: refusing to turn over documents in discovery, failing to respond to court orders to do so, biding his time in hopes of stretching out the proceedings in a vain attempt to avoid the inevitable reckoning.

The game came to a crashing halt this week when the judge overseeing the case, Maya Guerra Gamble of Texas' 459th District Court in Travis County, pulled the plug on Jones' obstruction tactics by declaring a default judgment in two of the central Sandy Hook lawsuits—meaning that the matter has been summarily decided and that Jones lost. With his fate now in the hands of a jury that will decide the size of the settlement he owes the plaintiffs, Jones' day of reckoning is now upon him.

Gamble issued the default judgments in filings that were unsealed this week in the two lawsuits filed by Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa, parents of 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner; and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was killed in the horrific Dec. 14, 2012, massacre by a deranged lone gunman in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 26 people dead, 20 of them young children.

Jones has a long history of declaring any mass casualty event—from the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the 2017 Las Vegas massacre to the Jan. 6 insurrection—"false flags" masterminded by nefarious "globalists" with the intention of taking Americans' freedoms away. He did so in the Sandy Hook case with particular zeal, claiming that the event was a "hoax," the victims were all "crisis actors" who did not really exist, and that the parents were all participants in a plot to take away Americans' gun rights.

The result was a flood of harassment directed at the grieving parents. Pozner told reporters he had to go into hiding. "It turned into what seemed like Alex Jones had some sort of vendetta against me, because I was hurting his business. I was crippling his YouTube channel," he told PBS. Pozner said Jones kept repeating his and Noah's names, calling on his listeners to "investigate" Pozner.

The lawsuits began arriving on Jones' doorstep in 2018, along with similar lawsuits brought against other "Sandy Hook hoaxers" with lesser reach than Jones' millions of followers. In all, nine families have filed suits. He already had been ordered to pay legal fees of $100,000, and was sanctioned by another judge in a lawsuit filed by six other families of Sandy Hook victims for failing to respond to court orders for documents—a pattern he followed in all of these cases.

Jones' continued refusal to hand over discovery documents in the Pozner and Lewis lawsuits finally provoked Gamble's rulings, the sweeping nature of which are considered unusual in the judiciary. Gamble defenestrated Jones and his website's parent company, Free Speech Systems, for having "intentionally disobeyed" the court's requests for documents related to this and other lawsuits filed against him, and for showing "flagrant bad faith and callous disregard" in not turning them over.

Gamble explained her reasoning in ordering default judgments, writing that they were appropriate because "an escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions have all been ineffective at deterring the abuse," which Jones' unwillingness to turn over documents in the case inflicted.

She also wrote that Jones showed a "general bad faith approach to litigation" that was supported by "Mr. Jones' public threats and Mr. Jones' professed belief that these proceedings are 'show trials.' "

"The Court finds that Defendants' failure to comply … is greatly aggravated by [their] consistent pattern of discovery abuse throughout similar cases pending before this Court," the judge's filings read. "The Court finds that Defendants' discovery conduct in this case is the result of flagrant bad faith and callous disregard for the responsibilities of discovery under the rules."

The next step in the case entails calling a jury to consider the damages in the cases. Both families are seeking millions of dollars from Jones.

Jones complained bitterly about the rulings in a public statement with his attorney. "It takes no account of the tens of thousands of documents produced by the defendants, the hours spent sitting for depositions and the various sworn statements filed in these cases," the statement read. "We are distressed by what we regard as a blatant abuse of discretion by the trial court. We are determined to see that these cases are heard on the merits."

He concluded: "It is not overstatement to say the first amendment was crucified today."

"Mr. Jones was given ample opportunity to take these lawsuits seriously and obey the rule of law," Mark Bankston, an attorney for the families, told The Washington Post. "He chose not to do so, and now he will face the consequences for that decision."

Lawyer Bill Ogden with Farrar & Ball, the law firm representing the Pozner/De La Rosa and Lewis families, remarked to HuffPost that default judgments such as Gamble's are so rare that they have a kind of mythical status.

"We learn about death penalty sanctions in law school as more of a theory, and it's almost unheard of to have them handed down in a case like this," said Ogden. "However, the Sandy Hook cases are unique. It is extremely rare that a party (Alex Jones and Infowars) is ordered by the Court to comply with discovery, is sanctioned for failing to obey with the Court's multiple Order(s), and then continues to blatantly disregard the Court's authority by continuously refusing to comply."

Other Sandy Hook conspiracy theorists have already faced similar consequences in court. Leonard Pozner won an earlier lawsuit in Wisconsin against an author who published a book claiming that the massacre was a hoax, with the judge ordering $450,000 in damages. Another "hoax" conspiracist, 73-year-old Wolfgang Halbig of Lake City, Florida, was arrested in 2020 and charged with harassing the Pozners and other Sandy Hook families.

One follower of Jones' Infowars program, 57-year-old Lucy Richards of Florida, was arrested and convicted in 2017 of threatening the Pozners. Richards left menacing voice mails and emails with Pozner, saying in one: "You gonna die … Death is coming to you real soon and there's nothing you can do about it." She received a five-month prison sentence.

Leonard Pozner himself has reflected on the vicious toll that conspiracism takes on both individuals and communities. "Unimpeded conspiracy theories distort truth and erase history," he told The Washington Post. "They dehumanize victims."

Pozner later told PBS: "These ideas are not harmless. So, spreading hate, vilifying people, there's someone that will read it and possibly take action, and really take it to heart. I've seen that happen. I've seen that happen in my life."

Capitol Riot Charges Against Infowars Host May Implicate Alex Jones

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Department of Justice on Friday announced charges against InfoWars co-host Owen Shroyer in connection with the Capitol riot on January 6. Shroyer, who hosts a Web series on the conspiracy-driven network run by Alex Jones, is facing charges of "disorderly conduct and entering a restricted area of Capitol grounds," according to Mother Jones.

In a new criminal complaint filed on Friday, August 20, the Justice Department detailed the charges Shroyer is facing. The complaint also included a number of videos and an image of an advertisement for January 6 that featured a photo of Shroyer with Jones. Part of the complaint also mentions Jones.

The complaint reads:

"Shroyer marched to the U.S. Capitol from the Ellipse shortly before the U.S. Capitol was breached. One video depicted Shroyer marching with other individuals, leading a crowd of people in a "1776!" chant as the host of the Infowars show on which the video was streamed stated, "Alex Jones at this moment is leading the march toward the Capitol building."

In the same video, Shroyer can be heard telling the crowd, "Today we march for the Capitol because on this historic January 6, 2021, we have to let our Congressmen and women know, and we have to let Mike Pence know, they stole the election, we know they stole it, and we aren't going to accept it."

The publication also reports:

"The complaint includes images of Shroyer in restricted areas, along with Jones. The images include one picture of Shroyer, near Jones, at the top of the stairs on the east side of the Capitol. This came after the crowd had pushed past police officers guarding the area."

Following the Justice Department's announcement on Friday, Shroyer addressed the criminal complaint on air. He admitted that he does plan to surrender to authorities on Monday, August 23, Buzzfeed reports.

"A couple hours ago, I was informed by my attorney that there is a warrant out for my arrest with allegations involving January 6, and I will have to turn myself in Monday morning," he said. "There's a lot of questions, some I have answers to, some I don't. I'm not going to be getting into more of this today on the air. And I plan on declaring innocence of these charges because I am."

While Alex Jones has not been charged in connection with the Capitol riots, Mother Jones notes that the charges against Shroyer raise speculation about the possibility of him being charged in the near future. Since January, the DOJ has brought charges against more than 600 individuals in connection with the Capitol insurrection.

Alex Jones Claims Government Is Listening To His Chats With Tucker Carlson

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

ALEX JONES (INFOWARS HOST): Tucker Carlson has basically the highest ethics I've seen in journalism. He's incredibly smart, he's grown up, he's woken up to things being very sinister and he's come a long way, and he's surpassed really the work I've done. And Tucker understands what's happening and Tucker has the text messages from scores of people that are not in communication with each other, given to him in a file going back years, and it's because Tucker is smarter than them and he's laid the trap, and he knows about the FBI informants and the, quote, "unindicted co-conspirators" just like they did with Julian Assange setting him up.

...

JONES: We know that they spy on my text messages, my email, everything, and it's all given to Democrats, law firms, universities, think tanks. I mean, this is a major criminal operation, and that's exactly what Carlson talked about. That's exactly what Carlson talked about is how they are passing his information around, trying to find something he said unethical or racist, and of course, they can't. And that means they're reading my text messages to Tucker Carlson and our conversations and they're listening to conversations. And I'm gonna stop right there. And we already know that.

Trump Gang Encouraged White Supremacists To Join Jan. 6 Action

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The idea that the January 6 assault on the Capitol caught everyone by surprise is a recurring theme. The Metro D.C. Police claimed they had no expectation of violence, though two previous Trump rallies had ended in that way. The Capitol Police said they had no reason to expect violence, except they had intelligence indicating that it was likely. That intelligence community passed along relatively sparse information, though they had reams of social media showing that they were following significant planning by white supremacist militias.

Congressional committees have discussed failures of all these groups when it comes to failing to plan for events on January 6. But it now appears there was another group that was well aware of what was likely to happen on the day of Trump's big "Stop the Steal" rally — staffers inside the Trump White House.

As ProPublica reports, Trump's internal team was in touch with two competing groups that were looking to gain the limelight on January 6, and they were helping them both. The first group appears to have been the same "Women for Trump" group that was behind other rallies—including two previous D.C. rallies that ended in violence. The second was the "Stop the Steal" team, which was openly advocating for actions that would generate chaos.

Put in charge of the rally was Katrina Pierson, who had been a spokesperson for Trump going back to the 2016 election, and who might best be remembered for defending Trump's lack of diversity by pointing out the lack of Black members in Abraham Lincoln's cabinet. Or maybe it was for the time that Pierson said that slavery was part of America's "good history." Either seems to be top-notch qualifications for dealing with Roger Stone, Alex Jones, and a collection of Proud Boys.

Even the organizers from Women for Trump tried to warn the White House that things were getting out of hand. They got ignored. Because chaos is exactly what Trump wanted.

In fact, rather than see that the Capitol was secure, Trump's team helped push away hurdles to permits and a speaking spot for the most radical of those attending.

ProPublica shows how, immediately following the election, Ali Alexander began assembling "Stop the Steal" as a worst of the worst team — a Suicide Squad of politics, without the humor, and where the biggest thing that could be blow up was America. Alexander made it clear he was open to "working with racists." And racists signed on. Alexander made connections with Alex Jones and Roger Stone. With white nationalist Nick Fuentes. With an army of "Groypers," or, as Alexander called them, "America First young white men."

And he seemed to realize that these were "bad people." Only, he was okay with that. "Why can't bad people do good tasks? Why can't bad people fight for their country?"

Mix in Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, and Alexander had assembled this whole sorry team under the banner of Stop the Steal. Everyone involved knew who they were. Everyone knew what they could do.

If there were concerns, Trump's team was more impressed by the ability of these white nationalists to turn out sizable crowds on a moment's notice. What did it matter if these were brutal, fascist, racist, what supremacists? They came when called and, really, wasn't that Trump's base in any case?

But while the Pierson and the members of Trump's White House team were fully aware of what was coming on January 6, they didn't share that information with police. The permits continued to indicate that there would be a number of small, disconnected events. And even though intelligence indicated that violence could happen, the scale of what they were anticipating seemed to make that threat seem miniscule.

An intelligence report from that day obtained by ProPublica shows that the Capitol Police expected a handful of rallies on Capitol grounds, the largest of which would be hosted by a group called One Nation Under God.
Law enforcement anticipated between 50 and 500 people at the gathering, assigning it the lowest possible threat score and predicting a 1% to 5% chance of arrests. The police gave much higher threat scores to two small anti-Trump demonstrations planned elsewhere in the city.

That the police were more concerned about two anti-Trump rallies seems … typical. But the suggested difference between what happened, and what was expected appears to be much larger than hearings and testimony have previously indicated. However, the police were set up.

One Nation Under God was a fake name used to trick the Capitol Police into giving Stop the Steal a permit, according to Stop the Steal organizer Kimberly Fletcher. Fletcher is president of Moms for America, a grassroots organization founded to combat "radical feminism."

Fletcher was seriously amused by how the police called to find out who was behind the rally and she was able to keep them away from the truth.

That name may have fooled the Park Police and Capitol Police into handing out a permit, and lulled everyone into a sense of false security on the morning of January 6. However, Pierson and the White House team were perfectly aware of the truth.

This means that Trump's White House staff — and likely Trump — were aware that a large group of white supremacists and militia were coming to town with plans to conduct a march on the Capitol. They not only didn't share this information with police, it seems highly probable they were also aware of, or involved in, creating the fake name that got Stop the Steal onto the ellipse. The whole rally that Trump encouraged to "fight like hell" was a rally that was never supposed to exist.

Emails Show Top Trump Aides Knew Violence Loomed On Jan. 6

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

On December 19, President Donald Trump blasted out a tweet to his 88 million followers, inviting supporters to Washington for a "wild" protest.

Earlier that week, one of his senior advisers had released a 36-page report alleging significant evidence of election fraud that could reverse Joe Biden's victory. "A great report," Trump wrote. "Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"

The tweet worked like a starter's pistol, with two pro-Trump factions competing to take control of the "big protest."

On one side stood Women for America First, led by Amy Kremer, a Republican operative who helped found the tea party movement. The group initially wanted to hold a kind of extended oral argument, with multiple speakers making their case for how the election had been stolen.

On the other was Stop the Steal, a new, more radical group that had recruited avowed racists to swell its ranks and wanted the President to share the podium with Alex Jones, the radio host banned from the world's major social media platforms for hate speech, misinformation and glorifying violence. Stop the Steal organizers say their plan was to march on the Capitol and demand that lawmakers give Trump a second term.

ProPublica has obtained new details about the Trump White House's knowledge of the gathering storm, after interviewing more than 50 people involved in the events of January 6 and reviewing months of private correspondence. Taken together, these accounts suggest that senior Trump aides had been warned the January 6 events could turn chaotic, with tens of thousands of people potentially overwhelming ill-prepared law enforcement officials.

Rather than trying to halt the march, Trump and his allies accommodated its leaders, according to text messages and interviews with Republican operatives and officials.

Katrina Pierson, a former Trump campaign official assigned by the White House to take charge of the rally planning, helped arrange a deal where those organizers deemed too extreme to speak at the Ellipse could do so on the night of January 5. That event ended up including incendiary speeches from Jones and Ali Alexander, the leader of Stop the Steal, who fired up his followers with a chant of "Victory or death!"

The record of what White House officials knew about January 6 and when they knew it remains incomplete. Key officials, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, declined to be interviewed for this story.

The second impeachment of President Trump focused mostly on his public statements, including his January 6 exhortation that the crowd march on the Capitol and "fight like hell." Trump was acquitted by the Senate, and his lawyers insisted that the attack on the Capitol was both regrettable and unforeseeable.

Rally organizers interviewed by ProPublica said they did not expect Jan. 6 to culminate with the violent sacking of the Capitol. But they acknowledged they were worried about plans by the Stop the Steal movement to organize an unpermitted march that would reach the steps of the building as Congress gathered to certify the election results.

One of the Women for America First organizers told ProPublica he and his group felt they needed to urgently warn the White House of the possible danger.

"A last-minute march, without a permit, without all the metro police that'd usually be there to fortify the perimeter, felt unsafe," Dustin Stockton said in a recent interview.

"And these people aren't there for a fucking flower contest," added Jennifer Lynn Lawrence, Stockton's fiancee and co-organizer. "They're there because they're angry."

Stockton said he and Kremer initially took their concerns to Pierson. Feeling that they weren't gaining enough traction, Stockton said, he and Kremer agreed to call Meadows directly.

Kremer, who has a personal relationship with Meadows dating back to his early days in Congress, said she would handle the matter herself. Soon after, Kremer told Stockton "the White House would take care of it," which he interpreted to mean she had contacted top officials about the march.

Kremer denied that she ever spoke with Meadows or any other White House official about her January 6 concerns. "Also, no one on my team was talking to them that I was aware of," she said in an email to ProPublica. Meadows declined to comment on whether he'd been contacted.

A Dec. 27 text from Kremer obtained by ProPublica casts doubt on her assertion. Written at a time when her group was pressing to control the upcoming Jan. 6 rally, it refers to Alexander and Cindy Chafian, an activist who worked closely with Alex Jones. "The WH and team Trump are aware of the situation with Ali and Cindy," Kremer wrote. "I need to be the one to handle both." Kremer did not answer questions from ProPublica about the text.

So far, congressional and law enforcement reconstructions of January 6 have established failures of preparedness and intelligence sharing by the U.S. Capitol Police, the FBI and the Pentagon, which is responsible for deploying the D.C. National Guard.

But those reports have not addressed the role of White House officials in the unfolding events and whether officials took appropriate action before or during the rally. Legislation that would have authorized an independent commission to investigate further was quashed by Senate Republicans.

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced she would create a select committee to investigate Jan. 6 that would not require Republican support. It's not certain whether Meadows and other aides would be willing to testify. Internal White House dealings have historically been subject to claims of "executive privilege" by both Democratic and Republican administrations.

Our reporting raises new questions that will not be answered unless Trump insiders tell the story of that day. It remains unclear, for example, precisely what Meadows and other White House officials learned of safety concerns about the march and whether they took those reports seriously.

The former president has a well-established pattern of bolstering far-right groups while he and his aides attempt to maintain some distance. Following the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Trump at first appeared to tacitly support torch-bearing white supremacists, later backing off. And in one presidential debate, he appeared to offer encouragement to the Proud Boys, a group of street brawlers who claim to protect Trump supporters, his statement triggering a dramatic spike in their recruitment. Trump later disavowed his support.

ProPublica has learned that White House officials worked behind the scenes to prevent the leaders of the march from appearing on stage and embarrassing the president. But Trump then undid those efforts with his speech, urging the crowd to join the march on the Capitol organized by the very people who had been blocked from speaking.

"And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," he said.

One Nation Under God

On Nov. 5, as Joe Biden began to emerge as the likely winner of the 2020 presidential election, a far-right provocateur named Ali Alexander assembled a loose collection of right-wing activists to help Trump maintain the presidency.

Alexander approached the cause of overturning the election with an almost messianic fervor. In private text messages, he obsessed over gaining attention from Trump and strategized about how to draw large, angry crowds in support of him.

On Nov. 7, the group held simultaneous protests in all 50 states.

Seven days later, its members traveled to Washington for the Million MAGA March, which drew tens of thousands. The event is now considered by many to be a precursor of Jan. 6.

Alexander united them under the battle cry "Stop the Steal," a phrase originally coined by former Trump adviser Roger Stone, whom Alexander has called a friend. (Stone launched a short-lived organization of the same name in 2016.) To draw such crowds, Alexander made clear Stop the Steal would collaborate with anyone who supported its cause, no matter how extreme their views.

"We're willing to work with racists," he said on one livestream in December. Alexander did not return requests for comment made by email, by voicemail, to his recent attorney or to Stop the Steal PAC's designated agent.

As he worked to expand his influence, Alexander found a valuable ally in Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist at the helm of the popular far-right website InfoWars. Jones, who first gained notoriety for spreading a lie that the Sandy Hook school shooting was a hoax, had once counted more than two million YouTube subscribers and 800,000 Twitter followers before being banned from both platforms.

Alexander also collaborated with Nick Fuentes, the 22-year-old leader of the white nationalist "Groyper" movement.

"Thirty percent of that crowd was Alex Jones' crowd," Alexander said on another livestream, referring to the Million MAGA March on November 14. "And there were thousands and thousands of Groypers — America First young white men. … Even if you thought these were bad people, why can't bad people do good tasks? Why can't bad people fight for their country?"

Alexander's willingness to work with such people sparked conflict even within his inner circle.

"Is Nick Fuentes now a prominent figure in Stop the Steal?" asked Brandon Straka, an openly gay conservative activist, in a November text message, obtained exclusively by ProPublica. "I find him disgusting," Straka said, pointing to Fuentes' vehemently anti-LGBT views.

Alexander saw more people and more power. He wrote that Fuentes was "very valuable" at "putting bodies in places," and that both Jones and Fuentes were "willing to push bodies … where we point."

Straka, Fuentes and Jones did not respond to requests for comment.

Right-wing leaders who had once known each other only peripherally were now feeling a deeper sense of camaraderie. In an interview, Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio described how he felt as he walked alongside Jones through the crowds assembled in Washington on Nov. 14, after Jones had asked the Proud Boys to act as his informal bodyguards.

"That was the moment we really united everybody under one banner," he said. "That everyone thought, 'Fuck you, this is what we can do.'" According to Tarrio, the Proud Boys nearly tripled in numbers around this time, bringing in over 20,000 new members. "November was the seed that sparked that flower on Jan. 6," he said.

The crowds impressed people like Tom Van Flein, chief of staff for Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ). Van Flein told ProPublica he kept in regular contact with Alexander while Gosar led the effort in Congress to shoot down the election certification. "Ali was very talented and put on some very good rallies on short notice," Van Flein said. "Great turnout."

But as January 6 drew nearer, the Capitol Police became increasingly concerned by the disparate elements that formed the rank and file of the organization.

"Stop the Steal's propensity to attract white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence, may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike," the Capitol Police wrote in a January 3 intelligence assessment.

Yet the police force, for all its concern, wound up effectively blindsided by what happened on January 6.

An intelligence report from that day obtained by ProPublica shows that the Capitol Police expected a handful of rallies on Capitol grounds, the largest of which would be hosted by a group called One Nation Under God.

Law enforcement anticipated between 50 and 500 people at the gathering, assigning it the lowest possible threat score and predicting a one percent to five percent chance of arrests. The police gave much higher threat scores to two small anti-Trump demonstrations planned elsewhere in the city.

However, One Nation Under God was a fake name used to trick the Capitol Police into giving Stop the Steal a permit, according to Stop the Steal organizer Kimberly Fletcher. Fletcher is president of Moms for America, a grassroots organization founded to combat "radical feminism."

"Everybody was using different names because they didn't want us to be there," Fletcher said, adding that Alexander and his allies experimented with a variety of aliases to secure permits for the east front of the Capitol. Laughing, Fletcher recalled how the police repeatedly called her "trying to find out who was who."

A Senate report on security failures during the Capitol riot released earlier this month suggests that at least one Capitol Police intelligence officer had suspicions about this deceptive strategy, but that leadership failed to appreciate it — yet another example of an intelligence breakdown.

On December 31, the officer sent an email expressing her concerns that the permit requests were "being used as proxies for Stop the Steal" and that those requesting permits "may also be involved with organizations that may be planning trouble" on January 6.

A Capitol Police spokesperson told ProPublica on April 2, "Our intelligence suggested one or more groups were affiliated with Stop the Steal," after we asked for a copy of the One Nation Under God permit, which they declined to provide.

Yet 18 days later, Capitol Police Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman told congressional investigators that she believed the permit requests had been properly vetted and that they were not granted to anyone affiliated with Stop the Steal. Pittman did not respond to ProPublica requests for comment.

Last week, a Capitol Police spokesperson told ProPublica, "The Department knew that Stop the Steal and One Nation Under God organizers were likely associated," but added that the police believed denying a permit based on "assumed associations" would be a First Amendment violation. "The Department did, however, take the likely association into account when making decisions to enhance its security posture."

Kenneth Harrelson, an Oath Keeper who allegedly ran the far-right group's "ground team" in D.C. on January 6, went to Washington to provide security for Alexander, according to Harrelson's wife. Harrelson has pleaded not guilty to felony charges in connection with the riot and is one of the Oath Keepers at the center of a major Department of Justice conspiracy case.

Harrelson's wife, Angel Harrelson, said in an interview with ProPublica that her husband was excited to visit Washington for the first time, especially to provide security for an important person, but that he lost Alexander in the chaos that consumed the Capitol and decided to join the crowd inside.

"Historic Day!"

As the movement hurtled toward Jan. 6, what started as a loosely united coalition quickly splintered, dividing into two competing groups that vied for power and credit.

On one side, Alexander and Jones had emerged as a new, more extreme element within the Republican grassroots ecosystem.

Their chief opposition was the organization Women for America First, helmed by Kremer and other veterans of the tea party movement, itself once viewed as the Republican fringe. Kremer was an early backer of Trump, and her tea party work helped get Mark Meadows elected to the House of Representatives in 2012.

The schism was rooted in an ideological dispute. Kremer felt Alexander's agenda and tactics were too extreme; Alexander wanted to distinguish Stop the Steal by being more directly confrontational than Kremer's group and the tea party. "Our movement is masculine in nature," he said in a livestream.

Trump promoted both groups' events online at various times.

Stop the Steal, through its alias One Nation Under God, obtained a Capitol Police permit to rally on Capitol grounds, while Kremer and Women for America First controlled the National Park Service permit for a large gathering on the White House Ellipse.

Alexander and Jones wanted to speak at the Ellipse rally, but Kremer was opposed. The provocateurs found a powerful ally in Caroline Wren, an elite Republican fundraiser with connections to the Trump family, particularly Donald Trump Jr. and his partner, Kimberly Guilfoyle. Wren had raised money for the Ellipse rally and pushed to get Alexander and Jones on stage, according to six people involved in the January 6 rally and emails reviewed by ProPublica.

Pierson, the Trump campaign official, had initially been asked by Wren to help mediate the conflict. But Pierson shared Kremer's concern that Jones and Alexander were too unpredictable. Pierson and Wren declined to comment.

On Jan. 2, the fighting became so intense that Pierson asked senior White House officials how she should handle the situation, according to a person familiar with White House communications. The officials agreed that Alexander and Jones should not be on the stage and told Pierson to take charge of the event.

The next morning, Trump announced to the world that he would attend the rally at the Ellipse. "I will be there. Historic day!" he tweeted. This came as a surprise to both rally organizers and White House staff, each of whom told ProPublica they hadn't been informed he intended to speak at the rally.

That same day, a website went live promoting a march on Jan. 6. It instructed demonstrators to meet at the Ellipse, then march to the Capitol at 1 p.m. to "let the establishment know we will fight back against this fraudulent election. … The fate of our nation depends on it."

Alexander and his allies fired off these instructions across social media.

While Kremer and her group had held legally permitted marches at previous D.C. rallies and promoted all their events with the hashtag #marchfortrump, this time their permit specifically barred them from holding an "organized march." Rally organizers were concerned that violating their permit could create a legal liability for themselves and pose significant danger to the public, said Stockton, a political consultant with tea party roots who spent weeks with Kremer as they held rallies across the country in support of the president.

Lawrence and Stockton's fellow organizers contacted Pierson to inform her that the march was unpermitted, according to Stockton and three other people familiar with the situation.

While ProPublica has independently confirmed that senior White House officials, including Meadows, were involved in the broader effort to limit Alexander's role on January 6, it remains unclear just how far the rally organizers went to warn officials of their specific fears about the march.

Another source present for communications between Amy Kremer and her daughter and fellow organizer, Kylie Kremer, told ProPublica that on January 3, Kylie Kremer called her mother in desperation about the march.

Kylie Kremer asked her mom to escalate the situation to higher levels of the White House, and her mother said she would work on it, according to the source, who could hear the conversation on speakerphone. "You need to call right now," the source remembered the younger Kremer saying.

The source said that Kylie Kremer suggested Meadows as a person to contact around that time.

The source said that in a subsequent conversation, Amy Kremer told her daughter she would take the matter to Eric Trump's wife, Lara Trump. The source said that Kremer was in frequent contact with Lara Trump at the time.

Stockton said that he was not aware of Kremer talking to the family about January 6, but added that Kremer regularly communicates with the Trump family, including Lara Trump. He also said that Kremer gave him the distinct impression that she had contacted Meadows about the march.

Through his adviser Ben Williamson, Meadows declined to comment on whether the organizers contacted him regarding the march.

Lara Trump, who spoke at the Ellipse on January 6, did not immediately respond to a voicemail and text message asking for comment or to an inquiry left on her website. Eric Trump did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Kremer did not answer questions from ProPublica about communications with Lara Trump. Donald Trump's press office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House, at the time, was scrambling from one crisis to the next. On January 2, Trump and Meadows called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump pressed Raffensperger to "find 11,780 votes" that would swing the state tally his way. On January 3, the president met with Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and urged him to do what he could to protect Trump's supporters on January 6.

Meanwhile, Wren, the Republican fundraiser, was continuing to advocate for Jones and Alexander to play a prominent role at the Ellipse rally, according to emails and multiple sources.

A senior White House official suggested to Pierson that she resolve the dispute by going to the president himself, according to a source familiar with the matter.

On Jan. 4, Pierson met with Trump in the Oval Office. Trump expressed surprise that other people wanted to speak at the Ellipse at all. His request for the day was simple: He wanted lots of music and to limit the speakers to himself, some family members and a few others, according to the source and emails reviewed by ProPublica. The president asked if there was another venue where people like Alexander and Roger Stone could speak.

Pierson assured him there was. She informed the president that there was another rally scheduled the night before the election certification where those who lost their opportunity to speak at the Ellipse could still do so. It was meant as an olive branch extended between the competing factions, according to Stockton and two other sources.

Chafian, a reiki practitioner who'd been working closely with Alex Jones, was put in charge of the evening portion of the Jan. 5 event.

The speakers included Jones, Alexander, Stone, Michael Flynn and Three Percenter militia member Jeremy Liggett, who wore a flak jacket and led a "Fuck antifa!" chant. (Liggett is now running for Congress.) Chafian had invited Proud Boy leader Tarrio to speak as well, but Tarrio was arrested the day before on charges that he had brought prohibited gun magazines to Washington and burned a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a church.

Tarrio told ProPublica that he did not know the flag was taken from a church and that the gun magazines were a custom-engraved gift for a friend. He has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of property destruction; the gun magazine charge is still pending indictment before a grand jury.

"Thank you, Proud Boys!" Chafian shouted at the end of her speech. "The Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, the Three Percenters — all of those guys keep you safe."

Wren, however, would not back down. On the morning of Jan. 6, she arrived at the Ellipse before dawn and began arranging the seats. Jones and Alexander moved toward the front. Organizers were so worried that Jones and Alexander might try to rush the stage that Pierson contacted a senior White House official to see how aggressive she could get in her effort to contain Wren.

After discussing several options, the official suggested she call the United States Park Police and have Wren escorted off the premises.

Pierson relayed this to Kylie Kremer, who contacted the police. Officers arrived, but ultimately took no action.

By 9 a.m.,Trump supporters had arrived in droves: nuns and bikers, men in American flag suits, a line of Oath Keepers. Signs welcomed the crowd with the words "Save America March."

Kylie Kremer greeted them gleefully. "What's up, deplorables!" she said from the stage.

Wren escorted Jones and Alexander out of the event early, as they prepared to lead their march on the Capitol.

At 11:57 a.m, Trump got on stage and, after a rambling speech, gave his now infamous directive. "You'll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong," he said. "I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard."

Lawrence, Dustin Stockton's fiancee and co-organizer, remembers her shock.

"What the fuck is this motherfucker talking about?" Lawrence, an ardent Trump supporter, said of the former president.

In the coming hours, an angry mob would force its way into the building. Protesters smashed windows with riot shields stolen from cops, ransacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's chambers, and inflicted an estimated $1.5 million of damage. Roughly 140 police officers were injured. One was stabbed with a metal fence stake and another had spinal discs smashed, according to union officials.

The Stop the Steal group chat shows a reckoning with these events in real time.

"They stormed the capital," wrote Stop the Steal national coordinator Michael Coudrey in a text message at 2:33 p.m. "Our event is on delay."

"I'm at the Capitol and just joined the breach!!!" texted Straka, who months earlier had raised concerns about allying with white nationalists. "I just got gassed! Never felt so fucking alive in my life!!!"

Alexander and Coudrey advised the group to leave.

"Everyone get out of there," Alexander wrote. "The FBI is coming hunting."

In the months since, the Department of Justice has charged more than 400 people for their actions at the Capitol, including more than 20 alleged Proud Boys, over a dozen alleged Oath Keepers, and Straka. It's unclear from court records whether Straka has yet entered a plea.

In emails to ProPublica, Coudrey declined to answer questions about Stop the Steal. "I just really don't care about politics anymore," he said. "It's boring."

Meadows, now a senior partner at the Conservative Partnership Institute, a think tank in Washington, appeared on Fox News on Jan. 27, delivering one of the first public remarks on the riot from a former Trump White House official. He encouraged the GOP to "get on" from Jan. 6 and focus on "what's important to the American people." Neither Meadows nor anyone else who worked in the Trump White House at the time has had to answer questions as part of the various inquiries currently proceeding in Congress.

Alexander has kept a low profile since January 6. But in private, texts show, he has encouraged his allies to prepare for "civil war."

"Don't denounce anything," he messaged his inner circle in January regarding the Capitol riot. "You don't want to be on the opposite side of freedom fighters in the coming conflict. Veterans will be looking for civilian political leaders."

Kirsten Berg and Lynn Dombek contributed additional reporting.

Tucker Carlson Tries To Start A 1/6 ‘Truther' Movement (Of The Stupid)

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks came the so-called "9/11 Truth" movement, whose adherents claimed that the attacks had actually been an "inside job" perpetrated by the U.S. government. This crackpottery had few prominent advocates, but enough Americans bought into it to lift up people like Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist radio host who has claimed that the feds used "controlled demolitions" to bring down the World Trade Center and whose website has described him as one of the "founding fathers" of the movement.

Nearly two decades later, the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by violent Trumpists has generated new cries of an inside job. But this time, the conspiracy theory is backed by the most-watched host on cable news, Fox News prime-time star Tucker Carlson.

On Tuesday, Carlson alleged that "some of the key people who participated on January 6 have not been charged," citing charging documents in which "the government calls those people unindicted co-conspirators." He then exclaimed: "What does that mean? Well, it means that in potentially every single case they were FBI operatives. Really? In the Capitol on January 6?"

Carlson was citing a report from Revolver News' Darren Beattie, who he then brought on. Beattie is not a credible source -- he left his job at the Trump White House after CNN asked about him speaking at a 2016 conference alongside well-known white nationalists. But even Beattie suggested that Carlson was taking his work too far -- when Carlson said that his piece explains that "the FBI was organizing the riots of January 6," he replied that it only "suggests that possibility."

In fact, this theory, which rests on the premise that "unindicted co-conspirators" are by definition "FBI operatives," collapses with the slightest scrutiny, and suggests that Carlson either a) lacks a basic understanding of federal investigations or b) thinks his viewers are rubes.

"Legal experts say the government literally cannot name an undercover agent as an unindicted co-conspirator," The Washington Post's Aaron Blake reported in a filleting of Carlson's segment, pointing out that better explanations for the unindicted conspirators include that they might be cooperating with the federal government. Blake noted that while it's not literally impossible that the government is violating that stricture, there's also no evidence to believe that is the case.

But Carlson doubled down on Wednesday, stating as fact, "The events of January 6 ... were at least in part organized and carried out in secret by people connected to federal law enforcement." Again, there's no evidence at all for this, but Carlson nonetheless said, "It's hard to think of a bigger potential scandal than this one." Taking the conspiracy theory a step further, he went on to allege that the government won't release Capitol surveillance footage of the riot because "people they know are on the tape."

Carlson is one of the most powerful figures in the modern right. He is the face of Fox and an increasingly influential force in Republican politics. When he takes a stand, others follow. His January 6 conspiracy theory quickly drew support from far-right influencers and media figures and even GOP members of Congress.

The Fox host's "false flag" theory fits into a broad and largely successful effort by elements of the GOP and right-wing press to confuse the public and shatter the initial, fragile consensus that the events of January 6 had been bad and reflected poorly on then-President Donald Trump and his supporters.

Carlson himself has sought to create an alternate-reality version of the events of the day, denying that it was an "insurrection" that featured the involvement of violent right-wingers including Proud Boys and white supremacists.

In his initial response to the riots, Carlson validated the concerns of the perpetrators, but nonetheless said that they went too far.

"What happened at the Capitol last Wednesday was wrong," he said on January 14. "We've said that very clearly at the time. We've said it very clearly every day since. And we'll continue to say it."

But he did not continue to say it. As those events passed further into memory, he shifted how he talked about them. Here's how he started his April 6 broadcast, in a monologue dripping with sarcasm:

Today is the three-month anniversary of January 6. For those of you who aren't good at dates or don't have calendars, this is the day that we pause to remember the white supremacist QAnon insurrection that came so very close to toppling our government and ending this democracy forever.
You saw what happened. It was carried live on television, every gruesome moment. A mob of older people from unfashionable ZIP codes somehow made it all the way to Washington, D.C., probably by bus.
They wandered freely through the Capitol like it was their building or something. They didn't have guns, but a lot of them had extremely dangerous ideas. They talked about the Constitution and something called their rights.
Some of them made openly seditious claims. They insisted, for example, that the last election was not entirely fair. The whole thing was terrifying.

And now, Carlson has become a founding father of the 1/6 Truth movement. It's winning him plaudits from his predecessor, Jones, who took credit on Wednesday for alerting Carlson to Beattie's story. That could be a lie -- Jones is a liar, after all -- but Carlson has previously sourced footage from one of Jones' employees, and he appeared regularly on Jones' show as recently as 2015.

"I made the decision not to get into this until it broke on Tucker because I thought he'd do a better job than I did," Jones explained. "He did. He did a great job."

Shortly after, he brought on Beattie to discuss the same theory he had detailed for Fox's audience.

Alex Jones Says He Coordinated With White House On January 6

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Before Donald Trump's presidency, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' Infowars was considered a fringe outlet in right-wing media circles; even former Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly dismissed Jones as a buffoon. But the Trump White House treated Infowars like a serious news organization, and according to Free Speech TV, Jones "is now claiming that he coordinated with the Trump White House on the events of January 6."

Free Speech TV, in a page for David Pakman's show, explains, "The Infowars host made the claim last week that he even put up $500,000 of his own money to make it happen. Jones said, 'The White House told me three days before: We're going to have you lead the march.' He went on to say that 30 minutes before the end of Trump's speech at the Rotunda, the Secret Service planned to take Jones out of the crowd to the spot where the march was supposed to begin. He went on to say, 'Trump will tell people: Go, and I'm going to meet you at the Capitol.' Jones' statements are basically a full-on admission about his involvement in the riots, although he can always hide behind saying he did not intend for the rally to get violent."

Pakman, however, stressed that Jones has a long history of lying.

This week on his show, Pakman explained, "Bear in mind: Alex Jones lies all the time. He may be lying here, but he may not be. And even if a fraction of this is true, it's a whole new level of insanity related to those riots…. If Alex Jones is to be believed, he got his marching orders from the Trump White House about the January 6 riots. But understand that if one iota of this is true, the White House helped coordinate the January 6 insurrection with extremist conspiracy theorists."

Nonetheless, Pakman went on to say, "Alex Jones is a serial liar. And when he's been put into legal hot water in the past for things he said, his lawyers run in — and they say, 'He's merely an entertainer. He's playing a character on his program. The things he says on his program aren't meant to be taken literally or seriously. He's sort of like a performer.'"

Watch the video below:

SHOCK: Alex Jones Says He Coordinated Riots with Trump White House www.youtube.com

Far Right’s Covid Conspiracy Blames Fauci For Virus

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The far right has a favorite new conspiracy theory: Dr. Anthony Fauci, it seems, conspired with nefarious globalists to manufacture the COVID-19 virus in a Wuhan, China, laboratory and unleash it on the unsuspecting world in order to seize control of the global population. Or something along those lines.

But watching its progression into more mainstream settings—including a recent White House press conference—provides a vivid illustration not only of the ways that conspiracy-fueled extremists twist quasi-legitimate debate to their own ends, foisting their fantasies on a larger public in the process, but how they can almost instantaneously transform government-created information vacuums into fetid hothouses for their fearmongering and smears.

Far right promotes conspiracy theory blaming Fauci for COVID-19 www.youtube.com

"COVID-19's greatest power is fear," intoned conspiracy-meister Alex Jones in the introduction to a recent episode of his Infowars show, behind a distorted video portrait of Fauci and creepy soundtrack. "It is a psychological warfare weapon that has been deployed against the people of the world—to be the cover for a controlled global collapse, to consolidate power in the hands of the globalists, and establish their New World Order.

"If this power grab is ever to be defeated, we must meet it head on, and expose the fact that the virus was deliberately released from the Wuhan lab, and that Fauci was publicly in control of the gain-of-function coronavirus project," Jones asserted.

The stories about the Wuhan laboratories are not new. A number of far-right conspiracists, ranging from Jones to Donald Trump, have made similar claims in the past but were knocked down by leading scientists. However, their assertions have come under fire due to questions raised by an article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists suggesting that the weight of evidence points to the likelihood that the COVID virus was produced in a Wuhan lab—which in turn has set the far-right aflame.

The article, by onetime New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade, argued that the consensus among leading virologists that the virus originated in wildlife and was transmitted to humans has no data to support it, and that the theory that it had leaked out of a laboratory—specifically, the Wuhan Institute of Virology—due to so-called "gain-of-function" research was supported by the weight of the evidence. Its primary conclusion, however, is that none of the theories are conclusive because of a lack of evidence—almost entirely due to the refusal of the Chinese government to allow a transparent investigation of the lab's role in the global pandemic.

That was all the opening the conspiracy crowd needed. As usual, Jones was only leading a parade of hysterical theorists eager to add their take on the Wuhan-lab controversy. "Did The Pandemic Start in Fauci's Lab?" asked one YouTube video. "Chinese Virologist Claims Coronavirus Was Man-Made In Wuhan's Laboratory," and "Is the Coronavirus a Chinese Bioweapon?" read others. At World Net Daily, the headline read: "New evidence ties COVID-19 creation to research funded by Fauci."

Wade's article was careful to specify that the evidence for any of the lab-leak theories is inconclusive, and acknowledges the natural-origin theory could yet prove correct. He complains that the lab-leak theories have been unfairly dismissed as conspiracies, but spells out clearly that "the idea that the virus might have escaped from a lab invoked accident, not conspiracy."

What he fails to acknowledge, however, is that reportage such as his becomes malleable putty for the conspiracy theorists. Jones was adamant about suggestions that the lab release was accidental: "None of it's accidental. You had the Rockefeller Foundation lockstep, you had the Event 201 with Gates and Fauci and the U.N.," he told his audience.

Jones blamed research under the auspices of "Fauci and Bill Gates" for the creation of what he called a "bioweapon." One of his guests went on to assert that the COVID-19 virus was not an accidental product, either: "This is clearly an offensive biological warfare weapon," he said.

On the "Real America's Voice News" podcast by former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon, another ex-White House adviser, Peter Navarro, held forth at length about the Wade article, plainly eager to blame Fauci for it all: "If it came from the lab, Fauci did it," Navarro told Bannon. He also claimed that Fauci used contract legalese to "get around the Trump White House to give the Chinese Communist Party weaponization capability through gain of function."

"You know, Fauci pulled a fast one on the House of Trump, I'm telling ya," he said. "This Nick Wade article, Fauci is goin' down."

He concluded: "For whatever reason, Fauci wanted to weaponize that virus. And he is the father of it, he has killed millions of Americans, and now we are 99.99 percent sure of that."

A number of Republican politicians—notably Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul—have now called for an official investigation into whether U.S. taxpayers were helping finance "gain of function" research in Wuhan. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson blamed Fauci, saying: "So what were we doing cooperating with China?"

The extent to which the Wuhan-lab-leak-theory is becoming a right-wing obsession was manifested late last week when reporter Emerald Robinson of the conspiracy-friendly Newsmax operation tried to grill Press Secretary Jen Psaki about the matter. She asked a question similar to Johnson's: "Given that gain-of-function research is dicey, why would the U.S. fund that in China?"

When Psaki suggested she ask the National Institutes of Health that question, Robinson continued: "Who does the president agree with, Dr. Fauci or the other officials? Does he think it was a lab leak?"

"Well, the president has said, and I have said from here many times, that there needs to be a credible, independent investigation through the World Health Organization, and one that relies on data, that relies on participation from China and other countries that may have information," Psaki answered. "That's certainly something everybody has called for and we look forward to that happening."

The article that sparked the controversy is also deeply problematic, in no small part because of the author: While Wade is indeed a formerly well-regarded science writer, his reputation was permanently tarnished in 2014 when he published a book—titled A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History—contending that race is a biological reality, and that recent natural selection had created racial differences in economic and social behavior—claiming, as he is in the case of the COVID-19 theories, that "politics" suppressed a robust discussion of the matter.

The book was denounced in a letter signed by 140 senior geneticists who said that Wade had misrepresented and misinterpreted their findings, and that his conclusions fell well outside of any grounded hypothesis based on the science: "We reject Wade's implication that our findings substantiate his guesswork. They do not."

An American Scientist review of the book concluded: "A Troublesome Inheritance is itself troubling, not for its politics but for its science. Its arguments are only mildly amended versions of arguments discarded decades ago by those who methodically and systematically study human behavioral variation across cultures."

Wade, it seems, has a knack not only for distorting and misrepresenting science, but for promulgating "apolitical" discussions of scientific issues that just happen to become grist for white nationalists and far-right conspiracy theorists. His recent piece on the Wuhan labs is filled with similar key omissions.

For instance, he claims that the only evidence supporting the argument that the COVID-19 genomes indicate a natural origin is a letter by two scientists based on ostensibly slipshod claims, saying: "And that's it." But in fact another letter he cites (and dismisses), published in the medical journal The Lancet in February 2020, specifically references a list of studies by scientists from multiple countries who "have published and analyzed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2),1 and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens."

A recent debunking by Politifact of the claims regarding Fauci notes that, while Fauci was indeed involved in approving a grant to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, all parties involved deny that it involved gain-of-function research.

"We have not ever participated in gain-of-function research. Nor have we ever been funded to participate in gain-of-function research," Robert Kessler with the EcoHealth Alliance told PolitiFact.

"The research supported under the grant to EcoHealth Alliance Inc. characterized the function of newly discovered bat spike proteins and naturally occurring pathogens and did not involve the enhancement of the pathogenicity or transmissibility of the viruses studied," the NIH told Politifact.

Fauci himself recently addressed the underlying issue in an interview with National Geographic, calling the whole debate a "circular argument."

"If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what's out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated … Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species," Fauci said.

For conspiracy theorists, however, actual science, facts, and logic don't really matter. They have just learned how to trot out enough of them to seem interested in a good-faith discussion, and then using them to springboard into the bizarre alternative universe of fabricated smears where they dwell.