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.