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Tag: ali alexander

’Stop The Steal’ Impresario Will Now Push Voter Suppression Campaign

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

"Stop the Steal" organizer and far-right figure Ali Alexander said in an online stream on July 27 that "several members of Congress and their chiefs of staff have asked if they could see" a new "election integrity memo" he is allegedly releasing.

In the online stream, Alexander said the memo would make "a very compelling case that Republicans must address election integrity, that state legislative bodies must pass reforms, and that failure will reduce turnout." Alexander also said the memo calls for a "full frontal offense" over the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol, adding that he was "really excited" about a press conference from Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) over the treatment of what he called "political prisoners" who were arrested for their alleged participation in the insurrection. (He also claimed "none of them were plotting an actual insurrection" and falsely claimed that "none of them took guns into the Capitol.")

He promised that the memo would help coordination for "all of these groups that are running around asking for some guidance, asking for some slogans, asking for stats so that they can confront their lawmakers," adding, "We're going to arm everybody with a big ol' political bazooka." He also told his followers to "tell everybody on Twitter, 'Ali Alexander is back.'"

(Due to technical issues while obtaining the audio recordings, some typing and clicking can be heard in the background.)

During the same stream, Alexander urged followers to use his "movement memo" to aid the Arizona "audit" and other possible state "audits" pushing false voter fraud claims. Alexander told his followers regarding his memo, "I want you to print it out. I want you to give it to your state lawmakers. I want you to memorize it. I want you to be equipped to better organize these audits and these protests that need to happen around the audits." He also said the memo "calls out a lot of idiots that are blocking election integrity."

Alexander also said that in addition to "all these grassroot leaders" and "people who coordinate ... state capitol protests" receiving the memo, "several members of Congress and their chiefs of staff have asked if they could see it."

Alexander also claimed that former President Donald Trump "used the Stop the Steal press release that we sent out on the 21st [of July]" to target House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in his released statement. He also credited his supporters with sharing the press release on social media, saying that it was "pretty rewarding" to see that "it made it to the president." Alexander thanked his supporters for being "the firepower that I need to get things done inside the Republican Party and the conservative movement."

Alexander has previously claimed that he was in touch with figures in Trump's orbit and administration as well as in Congress regarding his "Stop the Steal" efforts leading up to the insurrection. With the latter, he has specifically said that Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Gosar helped plan his January 6 rally (Gosar's chief of staff has also said he kept in regular contact with Alexander).

Following the insurrection, Alexander claimed he was waiting for certain "legal liabilities" to expire the "further away I get from January 6th" before resuming political activities. In June, he promised to "return to ... political activity here soon." But by then he was already advocating for state "audits" of the 2020 presidential election and harassment of government workers. (In July, he claimed he would resume his public activities once there are three state "audits.")

Alexander has also called for violence against his perceived enemies and threatened authorities, encouraging his followers to prepare for "civil war" and a possible "revolution."

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.

‘Stop The Steal’ Figure Emerges From Hiding And Vows Vengeance

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Ali Alexander, the lead organizer of the so-called Stop the Steal campaign, has resurfaced after going into hiding following the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Streaming on Trovo Wednesday night, Alexander claimed that while he has been licking his wounds, he has been plotting to restart rallies in March, abolish the media, and build a separate society for Trump supporters.

As former President Donald Trump faces an impeachment trial this week for inciting an insurrection with his speech at the Stop the Steal rally the morning of January 6, it appears Alexander has yet to face charges for his role. Alexander rebooted the so-called Stop the Steal campaign the day after Election Day, when Trump's lead began to slip as mail-in ballots began to be counted. He pushed voter fraud conspiracy theories, embraced QAnon conspiracy theorists and far-right activists in his campaign, claimed to be doing God's work, and organized three massive rallies in Washington, D.C., that featured the Proud Boys hate group, paramilitary groups like the Oath Keepers, and other extremists.

Following January 6, Alexander was booted off most major social media platforms and, as a result, is now streaming on Trovo, a gaming platform that appears to be growing in popularity among far-right actors kicked off other platforms. On Wednesday night, Alexander lamented the "racist, bigoted, anti-Christian, anti-Southern, anti-Republican, anti-conservative, anti-human smear machine" that he says targeted him, and he promised to create chaos. "We've got to get back in the driver's seat," he added.

"They've done a great number on my life, they've cost me tens of thousands of dollars, they've really destroyed parts of my life, but in a lot of ways, I have no other choice but to announce that I'm building the future, so I'm making strategic investments in tools that fight deplatforming and to create chaos on existing platforms," Alexander claimed.

"America is going to have a choice, and I promise you that, between going onto this dystopian future or fighting in what I'm calling the American sovereignty movement," he said. "And I'm gonna get back, and I'm going to do rallies again starting in March, I'm gonna have indoor gatherings in March, in Michigan, in Arizona, in Georgia, in Texas. I'm going to do a media tour."

Alexander said he had been plotting how to do away with the free press and other "systems that control us": "So I want you guys to know that I've been licking my wounds, but I've been plotting, I've been planning, I've been scheming because we have to do away with this whole system. The free press is not free, and they're not the press, they need to be abolished. The systems that control us have to be abolished."

"I'm going to create a society, and a community, and a culture, and a language for [Trump supporters], and there are tens of millions of us. … Winning can just be 10 million people creating a new megacity," he mused. "Let's build our own city, let's seriously build our own city, let's build a back-up city in South America."

Alexander also didn't miss the opportunity to push the claim that the insurrection was a "premeditated psyop."

"Like everyone is saying the impeachment trial is proving that there was a premeditated psyop against both Trump and Stop the Steal, so how could we incite an insurrection that was premeditated by people we don't know?" he said. "And yet, are there big platforms welcoming me back saying we treated a Black man wrong because we wanted to pretend he was leading a white supremacy movement? No. These people are evil. And we will make lists of them, and they will not be welcome in this new society, they won't be welcomed on new platforms, those people who have tried to force Marxism and thought control on us."

Alexander said that if the "deep state" charges him with a fake crime, he'd be prepared to fight: "If they want to charge me with a fake crime, if they want to martyr me, then I will meet them on that battlefield. I'm not somebody, I'm not somebody that talks a talk or tweets a tweet."

"I've licked my wounds, I'm pissed off. I'm more pissed off than I was the night of the election I created Stop the Steal. We win. They lose. To God be the glory," he said in closing.

Ahead of the Capitol insurrection, Alexander embraced increasingly violent rhetoric, calling for revolution and rebellion. A short distance away from the White House the day before the insurrection, Alexander started a "Victory or death!" chant at a Stop the Steal rally. "Our government is only our government if it is legitimate," he declared at that rally. "1776 is always an option."

After the violence at the Capitol, Alexander posted a since-deleted video of himself saying "I don't disavow this. I do not denounce this." He encouraged viewers to tune into his Stop the Steal website, which he called "the home of the rebellion against an illegitimate government."

This article was originally published at Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

Uncovering The #MAGA Plot Against America

Investigations of the terrible crimes committed against the United States at the Capitol last week had scarcely begun when the usual suspects launched a right-wing cover-up. Rather than blame the motley swarm of #MAGA fanatics, white nationalists and habitual criminals whom we all witnessed storming into the citadel of democracy to stop certification of the 2020 election, they pointed the finger to the antifa and Black Lives Matter movements.

But such a preposterous political alibi, premised on nonexistent evidence, won't stand up to the kind of scrutiny that must now be brought to bear on these momentous events. Long after President Donald Trump's impeachment is over and done, and regardless of whether he is convicted or not, the myriad investigations and trials of the perpetrators of the Capitol insurrection will go on for years. Justice will be done; the truth will be revealed; and the breadth of the assault on our constitutional democracy will stun even the jaded and cynical.

Combining vanity and stupidity, the shock troops who carried out the assault recorded themselves in the process of the attack. Perhaps they believed that they would be pardoned by Donald Trump. Knock, knock. Now the FBI is sweeping them up across the country to face federal prosecution.

More than a few of these individuals have prior convictions for serious crimes. These predicate felons, who exemplify the extremist wing of Trump's movement, are likely to crack under prosecutorial pressure and disclose what they know. And no matter what they expected, Trump probably won't dare to pardon them. He is reported to be upset at the low class of his diehards apparently willing to kidnap and assassinate in his name.

While much of what occurred on Jan. 6 and the days and weeks leading up to the attack still remains somewhat murky, it is already clear that the insurrection was not a spontaneous uprising. The mob that assaulted the Capitol included highly trained fighters who came prepared with tactical gear of all kinds, often superior to the equipment of the police officers trying to hold them back, as well as a communications system. What they needed from the thousands of dupes whipped up by Trump and Rudy Giuliani was an overwhelming physical force to enable an unstoppable rush into the building.

We don't know the extent of coordination, if any, between the White House, various ultra-right members of Congress and fascist gangs like the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers that came to Washington bent on bloodshed. The initial clues, however, raise deeply troubling questions. Why were members of Congress escorting groups of Trump supporters around the Capitol on Jan. 5, the day before the attack, when the building was supposed to be closed? Why did the attacking vanguard leave the Trump rally at the White House early and proceed to the Capitol? And why did the Pentagon fail to send National Guard reinforcements in time, despite desperate pleas from the Capitol Police?

The support structure for the demonstration that turned into an insurrection ranged across the Trumpist movement, encompassing figures like Ginni Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, and Charlie Kirk, who runs the far-right college outfit Turning Point USA and boasts close ties with Donald Trump Jr. Both of them have tried to erase evidence of their organizing efforts.

Equally intriguing is the role of Ali Alexander, who takes credit for staging the "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6, whose militant rhetoric set the event's tone and who now seems to have gone into hiding. He has a long history of connections with Trump confidant Roger Stone and Stone's proteges in the Proud Boys. He has also received funding in the recent past from the billionaire Mercer family, which lurks behind many of the nation's most toxic far-right elements. And Alexander says that he worked on the insurrection with at least three Republican members of Congress — Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Mo Brooks, R-Ala.

Here it is worth recalling that Stone oversaw the "Brooks Brothers riot" in Miami that stopped the vote counting in Miami-Dade County and swayed the outcome of the 2000 presidential election. Since last November, he has repeatedly called for Trump to impose martial law to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The events of Jan. 6 represented the worst threat to democracy and the rule of law that we have seen in our lifetimes. The violent authoritarian impulse within the Republican right has metastasized under Trump into a potent and very dangerous force. Uncovering the roots of that threat and isolating its sponsors will be a lengthy and complicated process that will involve the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, state and local law enforcement, the attorney general of the District of Columbia, many committees of the House and Senate, and almost certainly a national investigative commission on the order of the 9/11 commission. And there will be trials.

Nothing less will suffice to defend our democratic republic from its enemies, foreign and domestic.

To find out more about Joe Conason and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Republicans Suspected Of Conspiring In Capitol Attack

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

It's obvious that many Republicans—including Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz in the Senate, and dozens in the House, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy—actively inflamed Donald Trump's white supremacist mob and encouraged their deadly assault on the Capitol. However, it now seems that some Republicans in Congress may have done more than knowingly fan the flames. In the days since the rotunda was cleared of debris and the halls were cleaned of the literal human excrement smeared there by Trump's biggest fans, information has appeared that indicates some Republicans may have actively been involved in planning or carrying out the assault.

On Tuesday evening, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) conducted a Facebook live session for her constituents during which explained her support resulting in calling on Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment. During that webcast, Sherrill made an astounding accusation. She claimed to have witnessed Republican members of Congress leading Trump supporters on, not a tour, but a "reconnaissance" of the Capitol. "We can't have a democracy," said Sherrill, "if members of Congress are actively helping the president overturn the election results."

As reported by USA Today's northerjersey.com, Sherrill's accusation was as astounding as it was direct.

"Not only do I intend to see that the president is removed and never runs for office again and doesn't have access to classified material, I also intend to see that those members of Congress who abetted him; those members of Congress who had groups coming through the Capitol that I saw on Jan. 5—a reconnaissance for the next day; those members of Congress that incited this violent crowd; those members of Congress that attempted to help our president undermine our democracy; I'm going to see they are held accountable, and if necessary, ensure that they don't serve in Congress."

Sherrill has not so far detailed what she means by this reconnaissance, or given names of Republicans who were involved. However, it's become increasingly clear in the days since the insurrection that the situation at the Capitol was much more dire than was originally reported.

The accusations of involvement by Republican members of Congress aren't just coming from Democrats, they're coming from those who were involved in the assault.

As The Washington Post reports, Ali Alexander, the right-wing activist who formed the "Stop the Steal" movement, did so with the help of three Republican members of Congress: Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks, and Paul Gosar. "We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting," said Alexander. Biggs' staff has denied any contact with Alexander—but the involvement of all three Republicans is certainly worthy of investigation.

Completely disowning Alexander's claims could be difficult. He and Gosar appeared together at a "Stop the Steal" rally in Phoenix on December 19. At that same rally, Alexander played a recorded message from Biggs, who he described as a "friend." In both the live and recorded messages, Gosar and Biggs singled out January 6 for action.

Gosar would go on to promote other "Stop the Steal" events more than a dozen times, as well as pumping out tweets and emails promoting the January 6 gathering in D.C. Typical of Gosar's statements was an op-ed on the site Revolver, Gosar called simply counting the legal electoral vote a "Third World coup d'etat." According to Gosar, Biden's win involved "statistically impossible" spikes in the voting and "We will not tolerate this." Far from distancing himself from Alexander's group, Gosar claimed ownership. "As many of you know, I helped organize the very first 'Stop the Steal' rally," he wrote. "… Patriotic warriors joined together to gather evidence and tell the Left we will not accept a coup and a usurper in the White House."

All three Republicans continued to be involved in "Stop the Steal." As The New York Times reports, In the hours immediately before the assault on the Capitol, Brooks addressed the "Stop the Steal" rally in D.C. "Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass," said Brooks. "Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America? Louder! Will you fight for America?"

Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks are far from the only Republicans connected to Alexander's group, or the only ones who both inflamed Trump supporters through lies about the election and demands to attend the January 6 event.

On December 30, Alexander tweeted what would happen if Congress voted to approve the count of the Electoral College vote. "If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building. 1776 is always an option." The use of "1776" appeared in a number of statements from hard-line Trump representatives right up to the insurrection. Both Q-supporting Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert directly called the insurrection an "1776 moment."

On Tuesday evening, The Washington Post reports that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she feared some of her Republican colleagues would not only open the doors to rioters, but direct them straight to her. "I can tell you that I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die," she said. "I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive." According to Ocasio-Cortez, she can't go into specifics because of security concerns. But it's clear there were very good reasons to be concerned. And it's clear that multiple Republicans in both the House and Senate did more than enough to justify removing them from the halls of Congress. In fact, several of them may well deserve a new office—in very small room surrounded by bars.

Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021 · 9:27:10 AM EST · Mark Sumner

Capitol Rioters Plotted Publicly For Weeks, But Police Were Unready

Reprinted with permission from ProPublica

The invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was stoked in plain sight. For weeks, the far-right supporters of President Donald Trump railed on social media that the election had been stolen. They openly discussed the idea of violent protest on the day Congress met to certify the result.

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