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September 26, 2022 6:06 am

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Michael Novakhov - SharedNewsLinks℠

Top Trump Donor Funded Rally That Preceded Capitol Riot

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) –

An heiress to the Publix Super Markets chain donated about $300,000 to fund a rally that preceded the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol this month by supporters of former President Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

The Journal said the funding from Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a prominent donor to Trump’s 2020 campaign, was facilitated by far-right show host Alex Jones. It said her money paid for the lion’s share of the roughly $500,000 rally at the Ellipse park where Trump spoke and urged his supporters to “to fight.”

More than 135 people have been arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol as Congress met to certify Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the November election. Five people including a Capitol Police officer died.

According to the Journal, Jones personally pledged more than $50,000 in seed money for the rally in exchange for a speaking slot of his choice. Jones, who has publicized discredited conspiracy theories, has hosted leaders of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, two extremist groups that were prominent at the riot, on his popular radio and programs, it said.

Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Fancelli could not immediately be reached for comment.

In a Twitter post, Publix Super Markets said the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a national tragedy. “The deplorable actions that occurred that day do not represent the values, work or opinions of Publix Super Markets.

“Mrs. Fancelli is not an employee of Publix Super Markets, and is neither involved in our business operations, nor does she represent the company in any way. We cannot comment on Mrs. Fancelli’s actions.”


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4:19 PM 1/31/2021 – Did Trump know what was about to happen Jan. 6? | TheHill

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4:19 PM 1/31/2021

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  1. Did Trump know what was about to happen Jan. 6? | TheHill https://thehill.com/opinion/criminal-justice/536612-did-trump-know-what-was-about-to-happen-jan-6  Inside complicity? The Capitol invaders seemed to know exactly where to find Democratic leaders’ offices. In the days before, Republican congressional reps and aides were giving tours of the Capitol

  2.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Queen Elizabeth to host Biden before G7 summit in June http://reut.rs/2MEgqA8 

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  3.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Nude Ginchrich

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  4.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    US condemns “harsh tactics” used against pro-Navalny demonstrators in Russia http://hill.cm/zKC5WEX 

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  5.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Town of Palm Beach conducting a legal review of Trump’s residency at Mar-a-Lago http://hill.cm/ruoarFl 

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  6. 1:49 PM 1/31/2021 – Trump and the Capitol Riot of January 6, 2021: Trump bears responsibility https://thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com/2021/01/149-pm-1312021-trump-and-capitol-riot.html 

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  7.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Sen. Bernie Sanders says Democrats have the votes to pass Covid-19 relief bill through reconciliation https://cnn.it/2Mm2Lhd 

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  8.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Meanwhile in Russia:

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  9.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Next pandemic could be a potentially deadly fungus https://trib.al/LVEOo5Q 

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  10.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Pelosi is now pushing for more funding to protect lawmakers — at home, in Washington and as they travel in between. But she’s made clear that she deems some Republicans a part of the threat.http://hill.cm/TeRtEr0 

  11.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    This looks like a smoking gun: Trump’s acting secretary of defense disarmed the national guard and prohibited them from doing virtually anything against violent Trump protesters. https://twitter.com/James_Savage15/status/1355904582308614146

  12.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    Joe Biden will meet the queen and other royals this summer, and we’re betting they’re looking forward to it way, way more than when the bombastic House of Trump descended on Buckingham Palace in June 2019 https://trib.al/x8wampi 

  13.  Michael Novakhov Retweeted

    New case of South Africa coronavirus variant found in Maryland http://hill.cm/wvNOTmF 

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FBI finds evidence of coordination at Capitol riot

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That same day, FBI personnel in Norfolk were increasingly alarmed by the online conversations they were seeing, including warlike talk around the convoys headed to the nation’s capital. One map posted online described the rally points, declaring them a “MAGA Cavalry To Connect Patriot Caravans to StopTheSteal in D.C.” Another map showed the U.S. Congress, indicating tunnels connecting different parts of the complex. The map was headlined, “CREATE PERIMETER,” according to the FBI report, which was reviewed by The Washington Post.

“Be ready to fight. Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in,” read one posting, according to the report.

FBI agents around the country are working to unravel the various motives, relationships, goals and actions of the hundreds of Trump supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Some inside the bureau have described the Capitol riot investigation as their biggest case since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and a top priority of the agents’ work is to determine the extent to which that violence and chaos was preplanned and coordinated.

Investigators caution there is an important legal distinction between gathering like-minded people for a political rally — which is protected by the First Amendment — and organizing an armed assault on the seat of American government. The task now is to distinguish which people belong in each category, and who played key roles in committing or coordinating the violence.

Video and court filings, for instance, describe how several groups of men that include alleged members of the Proud Boys appear to engage in concerted action, converging on the West Front of the Capitol just before 1 p.m., near the Peace Monument at First Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Different factions of the crowd appear to coalesce, move forward and chant under the direction of different leaders before charging at startled police staffing a pedestrian gate, all in the matter of a few minutes.

An indictment Friday night charged a member of the Proud Boys, Dominic Pezzola, 43, of Rochester, N.Y., with conspiracy, saying his actions showed “planning, determination, and coordination.” Another alleged member of the Proud Boys, William Pepe, 31, of Beacon, N.Y., also was charged with conspiracy.

Minutes before the crowd surge, at 12:45 p.m., police received the first report of a pipe bomb behind the Republican National Committee headquarters at the opposite, southeast side of the U.S. Capitol campus. The device and another discovered shortly afterward at Democratic National Committee headquarters included end caps, wiring, timers and explosive powder, investigators have said.

Some law enforcement officials have suggested the pipe bombs may have been a deliberate distraction meant to siphon law enforcement away from the Capitol building at the crucial moment.

‘Ready for war’

Much of the discussion of potential violence occurred at TheDonald.win, where Trump’s supporters talked about the upcoming rally, sometimes in graphic terms, according to people familiar with the FBI investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open matter.

After the riot, a statement posted on the website said moderators “had been struggling for some time to address a flood of racist and violent content that appeared to be coming primarily from a small group of extremists who were often brigading from other sites,” leading to inquiries from the FBI.

One of the comments cited in the FBI memo declared Trump supporters should go to Washington and get “violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die.”

Some had been preparing for conflict for weeks.

Days after the election, Watkins allegedly sent text messages to a number of individuals who had expressed interest in joining her group, which called itself the Ohio State Regular Militia.

“I need you fighting fit by innaugeration,” she told one recruit, according to court papers.

The same day, she also asked a recruit to download Zello, an app that allows a cellphone to operate like a push-to-talk walkie-talkie, saying her group uses it “for operations.”

In conversations later that month, Watkins allegedly spoke in apocalyptic terms about the prospect of Joe Biden’s being sworn in as president on Jan. 20.

“If he is, our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights. . . . If Biden get the steal, none of us have a chance in my mind. We already have our neck in the noose. They just haven’t kicked the chair yet.”

In December, prosecutors say, Donovan Ray Crowl, a 50-year-old friend of Watkins’s, attended a training camp in North Carolina, while another friend, Thomas E. Caldwell, a 66-year-old Navy veteran from Berryville, Va., booked a room at an Arlington hotel, where Watkins also had a reservation for the days surrounding the Jan. 6 pro-Trump rally.

Prosecutors say Caldwell had written earlier to Watkins that “I believe we will have to get violent to stop this, especially the antifa maggots who are sure to come out en masse even if we get the Prez for 4 more years.”

In the week leading up to the rally and riot, Watkins and Caldwell were in regular contact as they talked about various groups of people meeting up on Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, according to an indictment filed this past week against them.

At different points, according to court filings and people familiar with the investigation, Watkins and Caldwell indicated a degree of impatience with Stewart Rhodes, the national leader of Oath Keepers, for not providing more direction.

Watkins messaged Caldwell that if Rhodes “isn’t making plans, I’ll take charge myself, and get the ball rolling,” according to the indictment. Caldwell replied that he was speaking to another person who expected a bus with 40 people to come from North Carolina. Caldwell allegedly told her that person, identified only as “Paul” in other court papers, “is committed to being the quick reaction force [and] bringing the tools if something goes to hell. That way the boys don’t have to try to schlep weps on the bus” — an apparent reference to weapons.

Caldwell added in a subsequent message that he didn’t know whether Rhodes “has even gotten out his call to arms but it’s a little friggin late. This is one we are doing on our own. We will link up with the north carolina crew,” according to court papers and the people familiar with the investigation.

On New Year’s Eve, according to the indictment, Watkins “responded with interest to an invitation to a ‘leadership only’ conference call” for what was described as a “DC op.”

The leaderless resistance concept

Such exchanges are critical early clues in the planning and coordination that went on before, during and after the riot. Videos from the Capitol show Oath Keepers such as Watkins dressed in military-type gear, moving in coordination with Crowl through the crowds around the building.

Watkins used the walkie-talkie app to tell others she was part of a group of about 30 to 40 people who are “sticking together and sticking to the plan,” according to court documents.

Caldwell, for his part, posted images to Facebook, writing: “Us storming the castle. Please share. Sharon is right with me. I am such an instigator!” Sharon Caldwell, his wife, has not been charged with any crime; Caldwell, Crowl and Watkins are accused of conspiring to obstruct Congress and other violations.

Thomas Caldwell’s lawyer has said his client expects to see the charges dropped or to be acquitted at trial. Caldwell, the lawyer said, is not a member of Oath Keepers.

Watkins has previously denied committing any crimes. “I didn’t commit a crime. I didn’t destroy anything. I didn’t wreck anything,” Watkins told the Ohio Capital Journal, adding that the riot was a peaceful protest that turned violent.

Crowl’s lawyer has described his client as a law-abiding citizen who helped protect people during the riot.

In a phone interview this month, Rhodes, the founder of the Oath Keepers, told The Post that he gave no direction or signals to members of his group to storm the Capitol, and that he considers the entry by rioters a mistake that played into the hands of critics.

Rhodes said the only “mission” the Oath Keepers had organized to undertake in D.C. on Jan. 6 was dignitary protection for far-right personalities who had traveled to the city to participate in “Stop the Steal” events.

At the time of the riot, Rhodes said, he had just escorted one of the VIPs to a nearby hotel. Rhodes said one of his deputies “called and said, ‘People are storming the Capitol.’ I walked back over and found” fellow Oath Keepers, Rhodes said, but did not enter the building.

Rhodes disavowed any meaningful connection to Caldwell or Crowl. Rhodes said Watkins had played an important part in the group’s mobilization in opposition to demonstrations around police abuse in Louisville last year.

Former domestic terrorism investigators say the alleged discussion by Watkins and Caldwell about the group’s leader points to a longtime pattern among such extremists.

“Historically, within the right-wing extremist movements, leadership has produced rhetoric to spin up their members, increase radicalization and recruitment, and then stand back and let small cells or individual lone offenders follow through on that rhetoric with violent action,” said Thomas O’Connor, a former FBI agent who spent decades investigating domestic terrorists. “Domestic terrorism actually developed the leaderless resistance concept, taking the potential blame away from the leadership and putting it down into small groups or individuals, and I think that is what you’re starting to see here.”

Current law enforcement officials said they have not reached any conclusions about the interactions between leaders of extremist groups and their members or followers.

Investigators are examining who may have joined Caldwell and Watkins’s group, and whether any of those individuals, “known and unknown,” had links or communications with others at the Capitol that day or elsewhere.

Colin Clarke, a domestic terrorism expert at the Soufan Group, said the Jan. 6 attack represents a “proof of concept” for dangerous extremists.

“They talk about things like this in a lot of their propaganda, and the fact that the Capitol Police allowed this to happen, you can call it a security breach, or intelligence failure, but these people do not look at this as a failure, they look at it as an overwhelming success, and one that will inspire others for years.”

Julie Tate and Alice Crites contributed to this report.


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Multiple Extremists at Capitol Riot Arrested: Live Updates

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A lone man stands in front of the Utah State Capitol building at a protest in Salt Lake City, Utah on Sunday.
Photo: George Frey/AFP via Getty Images

On January 13, the House impeached President Trump again, charging him with “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Capitol riot. Meanwhile, federal law enforcement officers are still working to piece together what happened during the January 6 attack, identify insurrectionists, and file charges against them. Below, updates on the ongoing fallout from the riot.

To be clear, there does not appear to be any evidence that will happen, but this is nonetheless a chilling report from the Associated Press:

U.S. defense officials say they are worried about an insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, prompting the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into Washington for the event.

The massive undertaking reflects the extraordinary security concerns that have gripped Washington following the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters. And it underscores fears that some of the very people assigned to protect the city over the next several days could present a threat to the incoming president and other VIPs in attendance.

Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told The Associated Press on Sunday that officials are conscious of the potential threat, and he warned commanders to be on the lookout for any problems within their ranks as the inauguration approaches. So far, however, he and other leaders say they have seen no evidence of any threats, and officials said the vetting hadn’t flagged any issues.

On Saturday, Defense One reported on the efforts to screen National Guard troops providing security for the inauguration, and noted that the Defense Department “broadly has struggled to get a handle on the problem of extremism, including white supremacy, in its ranks”:

A senior official told reporters on Thursday that the Pentagon has seen an increase in white supremacist beliefs among both active duty service members and veterans, but was unable to provide concrete figures. Several people arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol were current and former military members and at least one person arrested is a member of the Virginia National Guard. …

What is known as the Guard’s RUF card — their rules for the use of force that dictates under what circumstances Guardsmen may use force in the course of their duties — mandates that Guardsmen are armed only for their personal protection, [Major General William] Walker said. Some images of Guardsmen patrolling perimeters near the U.S. Capitol have shown them armed with M4 rifles, but with the magazine stowed safely in pouches on their vests.

The Washington Post reports police confronted him after they noticed his clearly visible handgun:

A 22-year-old Virginia man whose Facebook page features a photo from the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was arrested near the Capitol complex Sunday, and police said he was carrying three high-capacity magazines, 37 rounds of unregistered ammunition and a Glock 22 firearm.

The arrest of Guy Berry of Gordonsville, Va., was reported by D.C. police and confirmed by his aunt, who said she was his primary caregiver when he was a child and who asked not to be named to protect her privacy. The aunt said she saw Berry on Jan. 6 and knows he was not at the Capitol that day, when a mob of supporters of President Trump forced their way into the building to try to stop the certification of his election defeat.

Very few protesters showed up anywhere. The ones that did — often a handful at most — encountered fortified capitol buildings defended by police and National Guard troops. In several cases, the protesters were outnumbered by journalists. Though federal and state authorities were justifiably anxious the planned far-right protests following the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, there thankfully were no reports of violence on Sunday.

The Wall Street Journal reports that “members of several far-right militant groups were charged or arrested over the weekend for allegedly participating in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, as investigators examine what kind of organization and planning might have gone into the attack.” One was Indiana resident and Oath Keeper member Jon Schaffer:

Schaffer, identified as a member of the heavy metal band Iced Earth, was arrested on charges of engaging in violence in a restricted building, disorderly conduct and other crimes, and was photographed wearing a baseball cap at the riot bearing the words “Oath Keepers Lifetime Member,” according to an affidavit for his arrest filed on Saturday. The Anti-Defamation League calls the group an “antigovernment right-wing fringe organization.” The affidavit alleged that at the riot Mr. Schaffer used bear spray on police officers.

The Daily Beast notes that Robert Gieswein, who was seen wearing body armor and wielding a baseball bat at the riot, has now been charged:

The Woodland Park, Colorado, resident was seen in photos wearing distinctive patches and military-style equipment on Jan. 5 and on Jan. 6 as he pushed through police barriers at the Capitol and confronted officers in the building alongside a number of rioters wanted by the FBI.

He is charged with assaulting, resisting or impeding a federal officer, depredation of U.S. property. obstruction of an official proceeding, and entering a restricted building with the intent to impede official functions. …

Gieswein’s Facebook page, now-deleted, also showed him to be a fan of right-wing militia groups. In November 2018, he posted pictures of himself flashing the “Three Percent” sign, an apparent reference to so-called Three Percenter militias, outside of Shooters Grill, a Colorado bar owned by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO).

Per the San Francisco Chronicle, Daniel Goodwyn, a member of the far-right Proud Boys group, was also arrested and charged:

A San Francisco freelance web developer who calls himself a Proud Boy and has an extensive history of COVID denialism has been charged for his alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

According to the [FBI’s] complaint, Goodwyn identified himself by his first and last name on a livestream posted by Baked Alaska, the stage name of popular right-wing agitator Anthime Gionet. Gionet was arrested Friday in Houston.

Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, a county official in New Mexico, has also been arrested for his involvement in the siege, NBC News reports:

In an affidavit, a Metropolitan Police detective said a Cowboys for Trump videographer told authorities that after he and Griffin saw the group push past security barriers, they scaled the Capitol building’s wall before making their way to an outside deck. There, Griffin used a bullhorn to lead the group in prayer, the document states. …

In a Facebook post on the Cowboys for Trump page, Griffin later said he planned to return to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 20 for a possible “2nd Amendment rally” that would include “blood running out of that building,” the affidavit says.

The same NBC News report adds that Bryan Betancur, who was seen in video carrying a Confederate flag inside the Capitol, was also arrested Sunday. The self-professed white supremacist “was on probation for a burglary conviction, was wearing an ankle bracelet, and GPS data showed he was in the area for three hours on Jan. 6, according to the documents.” Another suspected rioter arrested Sunday, Kentucky resident Chad Barrett Jones, “[appeared] to use a rolled-up Trump flag to smash a window in the Speaker’s Lobby, which leads to the House chamber.” He was identified by a family member who saw him in news coverage of the riot.

University of Kentucky student newspaper Kentucky Kernel helped identify fellow student Gracyn Courtright as one of the rioters. Courtright could be seen in video footage of the siege carrying a “Members only” sign up a staircase in the Capitol. She is also now apparently facing arrest, per the Kernel:

Courtright, a senior mathematical economics major and West Virginia native, entered the Capitol on Jan. 6 with other rioters as they took over the building[.] Courtright posted her presence on social media, where it was quickly recorded and reported by other users. Now, that online evidence has been used by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to file an affidavit “in support of criminal complaint and arrest warrant.” …

The FBI also obtained direct messages between Courtright and an unnamed individual where Courtright says “I walked into the Senate like in the chamber where the desk are” and “idk what treason is.”

The witness then calls Courtright “embarrassing.” She responds with “It’s history idc” and then “I thought it was cool.”

Another suspected rioter facing charges, a South Carolina man named Andrew Hatley, reportedly took a selfie inside the Capitol in front of the controversial statue of former vice-president and notorious slavery advocate John C. Calhoun. WCBD News notes that according to the federal complaint against him, Hatley was using a mobile app which broadcasted his location to other users, and that data was used to help confirm that has among the rioters.

The Associated Press confirms that Trump campaign officials “played key roles in orchestrating the Washington rally that spawned a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, according to [a]review of records, undercutting claims the event was the brainchild of the president’s grassroots supporters”:

A pro-Trump nonprofit group called Women for America First hosted the “Save America Rally” on Jan. 6 at the Ellipse, an oval-shaped, federally owned patch of land near the White House. But an attachment to the National Park Service public gathering permit granted to the group lists more than half a dozen people in staff positions for the event who just weeks earlier had been paid thousands of dollars by Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign. Other staff scheduled to be “on site” during the demonstration have close ties to the White House.

Read the rest of the AP’s detailed report here.

CNN reports that she the company temporarily suspended her account “for repeated violations of new rules the social media platform put in place following the violent US Capitol riot”:

“The account referenced has been temporarily locked out for multiple violations of our civic integrity policy,” the [Twittter] spokesperson said. As a result, the congresswoman will be locked out of her account for 12 hours. Greene, who has a track record of incendiary rhetoric and ties to the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, had tweeted a conspiracy-laden thread earlier Sunday about the Georgia Senate elections. 

ProPublica has published more than 500 videos it pulled from Parler, the now defunct social media platform which was popular with far-right extremists. ProPublica, which arranged the videos on a timeline to form a remarkable video diary of the mayhem, notes that, “Taken together, they provide one of the most comprehensive records of a dark event in American history through the eyes of those who took part.”

Check it out.

That’s the conclusion of a new Wall Street Journal analysis published Sunday:

On Jan. 3, three days before the attack on the Capitol, Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the far-right organization known as the Proud Boys, shared a cryptic post on the messaging app Telegram: “What if we invade it?” The message was sent to his more than 7,000 followers on the app, with the first reply reading “January 6th is D day in America.”

The Wall Street Journal reviewed thousands of posts from the Proud Boys and their members across Parler, Telegram and Gab, the social-media platforms where they rallied supporters online after mostly being banned from Facebook and Twitter. The messages show the group repeatedly invoking President Trump’s rhetoric in the weeks leading to the Jan. 6 protest as they built momentum toward what became a violent showdown. …

The Journal’s review, which included now-deleted posts that have been archived by researchers, suggests the Proud Boys viewed Mr. Trump’s messages as a call to action.

The New Yorker has published a long video from veteran war journalist Luke Mogelson, who followed the pro-Trump mob into the Capitol and filmed the events extensively using his smartphone. One clip:

NBC News’ Ken Dilanian spoke with federal law enforcement sources about the probe:

As part of the investigation, the bureau is examining payments of $500,000 in bitcoin, apparently by a French national, to key figures and groups in the alt-right before the riot, the sources said. Those payments were documented and posted on the web this week by a company that analyzes cryptocurrency transfers. Payments of bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, can be traced because they are documented on a public ledger.

Separately, a joint threat assessment issued this week by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and various other federal and D.C.-area police agencies noted that since the Jan. 6 riot, “Russian, Iranian, and Chinese influence actors have seized the opportunity to amplify narratives in furtherance of their policy interest amid the presidential transition.”

State capitols across the U.S. had stepped up security in anticipation of armed protests by far-right groups and Trump supporters planned for Sunday, stationing both police and National Guard troops to defend against any attempts to repeat what happened at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. So far, the protests have been uneventful. The Associated Press reports that the protests held outside at least three state capitols were small and peaceful:

About two dozen people, several carrying long guns, protested outside the Ohio Statehouse, observed by several of the dozens of state troopers positioned around the building. Several dozen people — some carrying American flags — gathered at South Carolina’s Statehouse. And at Michigan’s Capitol, a small group of demonstrators, some armed, stood near a chain-link fence surrounding the building as state police walked the grounds and National Guard vehicles were parked nearby.

In Oregon, journalists outnumbered the protesters on Sunday morning:

And in New Hampshire:

As the New York Times points out, in light of the increased security and scrutiny, there appears to have been an effort to discourage people from showing up by some of the same ones who called for the protests in the first place:

People posting on right-wing websites and social media have called for supporters to march on Washington and all 50 state capitols on Sunday, with plans in Washington for a march to end at the White House. In recent days, however, as officials have strengthened precautions, some online agitators began to discourage people from turning out, making it unclear what to expect.

Indeed, the Washington Post reported Saturday that the potential threat of more violence from right-wing extremists has remained amorphous:

The extraordinary show of security at statehouses that are normally lightly guarded reflected the anxious state of the country ahead of planned demonstrations. It came just days before the presidential inauguration, an event normally rich with pageantry but one that this year has become a possible pretext for insurrection.

Yet even as security forces conspicuously raised their profile in cities far from the nation’s capital, the exact nature of the threat remained fluid. Officials acknowledged they did not know what form the next burst of violent right-wing extremist, white-supremacist, anti-government grievance might take — or where it might strike.

There is also concern that the biggest threat is now from individuals, not groups, notes the Wall Street Journal:

“They’re not going to go marching up to some building, carrying a flag and using a bullhorn,” a former FBI agent who has worked on domestic terrorism cases said of the most worrisome current threat. “These are people that honestly are intent on doing what it is they’re going to do under the cover of darkness. They’re going to do it in a way that people are not going to see them coming.”

The fact that President Trump will no longer be president when his impeachment trial takes place has become a central sticking (and talking) point for many members of the Senate GOP, according to the Wall Street Journal:

Many Republicans are gravitating toward a technical argument: The Senate lacks jurisdiction to try him after he leaves office, they maintain, because he will be a private citizen. That could allow the Republicans to thread a political needle, voting against Mr. Trump’s conviction without having to defend his conduct, people familiar with the discussions say …

That argument is countered, however, by Democrats who say Mr. Trump shouldn’t be able to evade political sanction simply because his offenses occurred in the twilight of his term. They cite several historical examples where impeached officials, including judges, faced Senate trials after leaving office.

Members of the pro-Trump mob who joined the siege at the Capitol aren’t just getting arrested and fired, they are also getting deplatformed from dating apps, the Washington Post reported Saturday:

Tinder, Bumble, and other dating apps are using images captured from inside the Capitol siege and other evidence to identify and ban rioters’ accounts, causing immediate consequences for those who participated as police move toward making hundreds of arrests.

Women and men have in some cases also turned the dating apps into hunting grounds, striking up conversations with rioters, gathering potentially incriminating photos or confessions, then relaying them to the FBI. Using the dating apps to pursue members of the mob has become a viral pursuit, with tips shared on Twitter and some women changing their location on the dating apps to Washington, D.C., in hopes of ensnaring a potential suspect.

Bumble also temporarily disabled its politics filter last week, as the Verge’s Jon Porter noted on Friday:

The feature allows users to identify and filter matches with options such as “Apolitical,” “Moderate,” “Liberal,” and “Conservative.” In a statement given to Mashable, Bumble said it had temporarily removed the feature in the U.S. to “prevent misuse and abuse.”

News of the change emerged after Bumble users reported seeing individuals on the app who appeared to have participated in the riots at the Capitol building last week. On January 7, Twitter user Alia Awadallah reported seeing “dozens” of men on dating apps that appeared to be in Washington, D.C., on the day of the riots.

Bloomberg surveys the effort by the FBI and others to identify and charge people who stormed the U.S. Capitol, which has included examining a massive amount of imagery, video footage, and social-media messages:

[D]etails gleaned from court documents reveal how the FBI has quickly identified more than 275 suspects — the number is expected to grow quickly — related to last week’s Capitol riot. More than 98 have been arrested, often with the aid of video taken or social media posted by the participants themselves. And investigators, academics and citizen sleuths are still combing though broadcast footage and websites such as Twitter Inc., YouTube and even archives of the now-defunct Parler platform favored by right-wing activists.

More than 140,000 pieces of digital media have been obtained by the FBI. “And we are scouring every one for investigative and intelligence leads,” Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, told reporters. “We continue to ask for more.” …

Arrest documents speak to the clues left in images, detailing all the co-workers and acquaintances who’ve led authorities to suspects after spotting their images in news reports or on social media.

As NBC News’ Kevin Collier points out, many of the rioters arrested thus far did not made identifying them very hard:

While federal law enforcement has significant legal and technical resources at its disposal — like the ability to get warrants to phone or tech companies to see whose phones were in an area at a specific time, for instance — that’s proven unnecessary for a number of people who have been charged so far.

Many were documented by journalists, then easily identified online. Adam Johnson, charged with theft of government property after a Getty photograph of him smiling as he carried off Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s lectern went viral, also posted a photo of himself that day to his Facebook account. Wearing the same clothing and distinctive hat, in front of a sign that says “Closed to all tours,” Johnson captioned the photo “No.”

Selfies inside the Capitol were common, and a number of people who took them have been charged with knowingly entering restricted grounds or disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told ABC News that he would cite the baseless voter-fraud claims that Trump used to incite the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to defend the president in his second impeachment trial over inciting that insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Giuliani said he is part of Trump’s impeachment defense team, and that he would introduce the allegations of voter fraud to prove Trump was innocent:

“They basically claimed that anytime [Trump] says voter fraud, voter fraud — or I do, or anybody else — we’re inciting to violence; that those words are fighting words because it’s totally untrue,” he said. “Well, if you can prove that it’s true, or at least true enough so it’s a legitimate viewpoint, then they are no longer fighting words.”

He also argued that Trump didn’t incite an insurrection because the insurrection didn’t start fast enough after Trump incited it:

“Basically, if [incitement] is going to happen, it’s got to happen right away,” he said. “You’d have to have people running out, you’d have to have people running out of that frozen speech, right up to the Capitol. And that’s basically, incitement,” Giuliani said.

And Giuliani said that Trump should challenge the legality of the impeachment, since the president will no longer be in office, and that he believed Trump would be justified in trying to pardon himself (for any other potential federal crimes).

The Bulwark reports:

Following his meeting with President Trump on Friday, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell said in a Facebook interview with Right Side Broadcasting News today that he’s praying that the military presence in Washington is part of Trump’s plan to retain power.

In Lindell’s interview — which has garnered hundreds of thousands of views on Facebook in just a few hours — he recounts the details of his meeting with the president and rattles off a series of unintelligible conspiracies in a Minnesota lilt.

When the Right Side Broadcasting News interviewer suggested that “people are hoping that this military presence is a response” to the election fraud, Lindell replied, “that’s where my hope lies.”

U.S. Capitol Police arrested an armed man at a security checkpoint near the Capitol on Friday after he showed them an “unauthorized” inauguration credential and officers found an unregistered handgun and a large cache of ammunition in his truck, which was adorned with gun-rights bumper stickers. Wesley Allen Beeler, 31, was charged Saturday with carrying an unlicensed pistol, possession of an unregistered firearm, and possession of unregistered ammunition. He later told the Washington Post “it was an honest mistake”:

In a tear-filled interview, he said he has spent the past week working as hired security in downtown Washington ahead of the inauguration. He said he forgot that his firearm was in his truck when he left his home in Virginia, where he said he has a license to carry. He said he realized it was there halfway through his trip but that he was running late, so he didn’t turn around. He denied that he had the more than 500 rounds of ammunition listed in his arrest report.

“I pulled up to a checkpoint after getting lost in D.C. because I’m a country boy,” he said. “I showed them the inauguration badge that was given to me.”

A person with knowledge of Beeler’s actions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is pending, said Beeler properly coordinated with Park Police, worked with them and had a pass with them. But Park Police had not communicated that to agencies overseeing the checkpoint, this person said. Beeler has no extremist ties, cooperated fully with law enforcement, and was cleared from further investigation, except for the charge of violating District law by carrying a pistol without a license, the person said …

Beeler said he was given a credential by his employer, MVP Protective Services. A man who answered a phone number connected with MVP said, “Unfortunately, at this time I am not authorized to speak,” when reached by a reporter Saturday evening.

Capitol Police said in the charges against Beeler that he was not authorized to enter the restricted area with the “non-government-issued” credential he showed officers. It does not appear that law enforcement officials view Wheeler as a threat, as he was released on his recognizance on Saturday.

Loews Hotels announced on Saturday that it was no longer hosting a February fundraiser in Florida for Republican senator Josh Hawley. “We are horrified and opposed to the events at the Capitol and all who supported and incited the actions,” Loews said on Twitter. “In light of those events and for the safety of our guests and team members, we have informed the host of the Feb. fundraiser that it will no longer be held at Loews Hotels.”

Representative Lou Correa announced Saturday that he had tested positive on Friday. Axios reports that on January 6, the California Democrat “did not shelter in the designated safe zone with his congressional colleagues during the siege, per a spokesperson, instead staying outside to help Capitol Police.”

It is not clear if Correa contracted the coronavirus at the Capitol. Three other Democratic lawmakers who were inside the Capitol have tested positive since the attack.

The white nationalist Tim Gionet, who goes by the moniker “Baked Alaska,” is the latest high-profile member of the Capitol mob to be arrested by federal authorities. The FBI took him into custody on Saturday in Houston, the Associated Press reports, on charges of violent and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds as well as unlawful entry of a restricted building:

FBI Special Agent Nicole Miller said in an affidavit filed in the case that Gionet streamed live for about 27 minutes from inside the Capitol and could be heard encouraging other protesters not to leave, cursing and saying “I’m staying,” “1776 baby,” and “I won’t leave guys, don’t worry.”

She wrote that Gionet entered various offices and when told by law enforcement officers to move, identified himself as a member of the media. Miller wrote that Gionet then asked officers where to go before cursing a law officer while alleging the officer shoved him, then leaving the building.

The Anchorage Daily News notes that the far-right personality has other problems, too:

Federal authorities aren’t just interested in Gionet, the man behind the camera: One of posters released by the FBI cataloging persons of interest is made up entirely of faces captured on Gionet’s livestream. …

[Gionet] was also sought by prosecutors in a criminal case in Scottsdale, Arizona, for breaking his terms of release on a December assault charge — he allegedly pepper sprayed a bouncer — by traveling to Washington, D.C., for the rally, and for “unlawful conduct.” On Friday, he posted a $3,000 bond in that case, the Arizona Republic reported.

BuzzFeed News reports that the ban will last until at least January 22:

Following complaints from Senators and employees, Facebook on Saturday said it was temporarily halting ads for gun accessories and military gear in the US through next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The move follows a BuzzFeed News story that revealed the world’s largest social network displayed ads for gun holsters, body armor, and other military-related paraphernalia in the News Feeds of people who had engaged with content about the attempted coup at the US Capitol building earlier this month.

The research firm Zignal says that election-fraud misinformation dropped 73 percent in the week after Trump was banned by Twitter and other social-media platforms. Reports the Washington Post:

The new research by the San Francisco-based analytics firm reported that conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to 688,000 mentions across several social-media sites in the week after Trump was banned from Twitter

Zignal found that the use of hashtags affiliated with the Capitol riot also dipped considerably. Mentions of the hashtag #FightforTrump, which was widely deployed across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social-media services in the week before the rally, dropped 95 percent. #HoldTheLine and the term “March for Trump” also fell more than 95 percent.

The research by Zignal and other groups suggests that a powerful, integrated disinformation ecosystem — composed of high-profile influencers, rank-and-file followers, and Trump himself — was central to pushing millions of Americans to reject the election results and may have trouble surviving without his social-media accounts.

Jenna Ryan, who was arrested by the FBI on Friday, told CBS 11 in Texas that she did not deserve to go to prison and would like President Trump to pardon her:

Ryan, who took a private plane to Washington, D.C., on the day of the riot, faces charges of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

“I just want people to know I’m a normal person. That I listen to my president who told me to go to the Capitol. That I was displaying my patriotism while I was there and I was just protesting and I wasn’t trying to do anything violent and I didn’t realize there was actually violence,” Ryan said. “I’d just like to apologize for all of the families that are affected by any of the negative environment and I’d just like to say I really love people and I am not a villain that a lot of people would make me out to be, or people think I am, because I was a Trump supporter at the Capitol.” …

“I think we all deserve a pardon. I’m facing a prison sentence. I think I do not deserve that and from what I understand, every person is going to be arrested that was there, so I think everyone deserves a pardon, so I would ask the president of the United States to give me a pardon.”

Dominic “Spaz” Pezzola, a 43-year-old member of the far-right Proud Boys group, was arrested on Friday and charged “with obstruction of an official proceeding, destruction of government property, and illegally accessing a restricted area,” the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported:

According to the complaint, Pezzola used a Capitol Police shield to break an exterior building and then went inside. He posted a video of himself smoking a cigar and saying, “Victory smoke in the Capitol, boys … I knew we could take this [expletive] over if we tried hard enough,” according to court documents.

An unidentified witness who spoke with Pezzola after the riot said that he and others stated they intended to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, according to the criminal complaint. The witness said Pezzola and others intended to return to Washington on Inauguration Day to “kill every single ‘mf-er’ they can.”

Lt. Tarik Khalid Johnson was suspended over the footage of him wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap during the Capitol riot, but the Wall Street Journal reports he did so in an effort to assist his fellow officers amid the chaos:

The MAGA cap was a ruse that was part of an unusual plan to rescue more than a dozen trapped police officers during the Jan. 6 riot, the officers said he told them. And one witness said the lieutenant’s action enabled a set of doors to the Capitol to be closed, shutting off an entry point to more intruders … Fellow officers said Lt. Johnson, who voted as a registered Democrat in the primary in Maryland last year, isn’t known to them as a supporter of Mr. Trump, and some were surprised when a picture circulated of Lt. Johnson wearing the MAGA cap during the riot.

Lt. Johnson has told fellow officers that he put on the cap in an effort to win the trust of a handful of protesters whose help he enlisted to push his way through the crowd and mount a rescue of officers trapped and in danger inside the Capitol, according to one of the colleagues. A video taken on an iPhone 12 and reviewed by the Journal shows Lt. Johnson freeing about 16 officers from the violent mob. The video doesn’t show when he put on the cap, nor where and how he got it.

Read the rest of the Journal’s report here.

Rosanne Boyland, the 34-year-old Georgia woman who was one of three people who died because of medical emergencies suffered amid the Capitol riot, was trampled as she and others tried to enter the Capitol, according to a New York Times analysis published Friday. Per video footage reviewed by the Times, around 4 p.m. on January 6, Boyland and a friend, Justin Winchell, joined the mob, which was trying to force its way into a tunnel entrance on the west side of the Capitol. Rioters were attacking police officers defending the entrance and attempting to use their body weight to push them back, and Boyland apparently fell amid the violent crush:

At 4:09 p.m., the mob can be seen making another push into the doorway. Less than a minute later, the police pushed back, and the mob can be seen tumbling out of the door and down the steps. Mr. Winchell, in a bright blue hooded sweatshirt, is just visible at the top of the steps.

For the next seven minutes, he can be seen pulling people away, appearing to search for Ms. Boyland as rioters continue to tumble out of the door. … It is unclear from the videos if Ms. Boyland was alive at this time, but two rioters — one wielding a stick and the other a crutch — launched a new attack on the police at 4:17 p.m., making it virtually impossible for officers to give her aid, if they were able to notice her at all. Boyland is visible in a video lying on her side in front of the door, her black hooded sweatshirt, arm and face partially visible, as men clash with police above her.

Boyland is eventually pulled away, and two people can then be seen trying to resuscitate her, before carrying her back to the police line. She was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead just after 6 p.m.

ProPublica found the video and published it on Friday:

The memo, which was reportedly sent to all USCP command staff, is another huge red flag which authorities apparently failed to heed in the days before the Capitol riot. Per the Washington Post:

In a 12-page report on Jan. 3, the intelligence unit of the congressional police force described how thousands of enraged protesters, egged on by Trump and flanked by white supremacists and extreme militia groups, were likely to stream into Washington armed for battle.

This time, the focus of their ire would be members of Congress, the report said.

“Supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021, as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election,” according to the memo, portions of which were obtained by The Washington Post. “This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent. Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”

D.C. Metro police officer Daniel Hodges was the cop seen in video footage of the Capitol riot bloodied and screaming in pain while he was pinned and crushed by a door being pushed by rioters as they tried to force their way into the U.S. Capitol. He told NBC Washington that he was able to escape the situation without any serious injuries, and that he was happy to be there, otherwise. “If it wasn’t my job, I would have done that for free,” he said. “It was absolutely my pleasure to crush a white nationalist insurrection and I’m glad I was in a position to help. We’ll do it as many times as it takes.”

Hodges, who is 32 and has been a patrol officer for six years, said that while he was immobilized, a rioter tore off his mask and stole his baton and hit him in the head with it. “At that moment in the hallway where I was pinned, I was there to do my best to keep them out, obviously, and the way I was doing that was with my body,” he explained. “Unfortunately, at that moment, my arms were pinned. I was unable to defend myself.”

“I’m glad that video’s going around, because it shows people that we absolutely fought tooth and nail to keep the Capitol safe, to keep our congressmen safe and keep them out,” he added.

The New York Times reported Friday that “prosecutors in Georgia appear increasingly likely to open a criminal investigation of President Trump over his attempts to overturn the results of the state’s 2020 election, an inquiry into offenses that would be beyond his federal pardon power”:

The new Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis, is already weighing whether to proceed, and among the options she is considering is the hiring of a special assistant from outside to oversee the investigation, according to people familiar with her office’s deliberations.

At the same time, David Worley, the lone Democrat on Georgia’s five-member election board, said this week that he would ask the board to make a referral to the Fulton County district attorney by next month. Among the matters he will ask prosecutors to investigate is a phone call Mr. Trump made in which he pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to overturn the state’s election results.

Welcome to the final Friday night of the Trump administration: Hardcore Trump loyalist and MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell had a meeting with the president on Friday, and beforehand he could be seen holding a piece of paper on which there appeared to be some kind of plan for Trump holding onto power:

Intelligencer contributor Ben Jacobs called one of the people listed on the page, and he had no idea why his name appeared on Lindell’s document.

Then on Friday night, the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman talked to administration officials and Lindell himself about the meeting and tweeted out what she learned:

I got a bit more information about the Lindell meeting. It was a brief meeting, Trump sent him upstairs to the White House counsel’s office to be escorted by an admin official sitting next to Lindell in the meeting. … Once up there, he insisted on meeting with White House counsel Pat Cipollone. It got contentious, in part because supposedly on the blacked-out part of his notes was something about how Cipollone should be fired.

Lindell tells me that he was carrying the notes for an attorney he’s been working with to prove the election was really won by Trump, wouldn’t say who it was. Said some of it related to reports Trump is now unable to see because he doesn’t have Twitter. Lindell insists the papers he was holding, which were photographed and visible, didn’t reference “martial law.”

An administration official says they definitely referenced martial law.

But an administration official says Trump wasn’t really entertaining what Lindell was saying. Lindell also seemed frustrated he wasn’t getting more of a hearing.

The FBI has conducted dozens of interviews during their investigation into the death of Brian Sicknick, the Capitol police officer who died of his injuries after he was reportedly hit with a fire extinguisher during the Capitol riot on January 6. The New York Times reports that an FBI memo sent Friday mistakenly said that the Bureau was investigating 37 people over Sicknick’s death.

On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed concerns that some Republican House members may have helped rioters with logistics in the days leading up to the attack, saying if that proves to be true those members may face criminal charges.

“We must trust each other, respect the people who sent us here. We must also have the truth, and that will be looked into,” Pelosi said, per The Hill. “If, in fact, it is found that members of Congress were accomplices to this insurrection — if they aided and abetted the crime — there may have to be actions taken beyond the Congress, in terms of prosecution for that.”

Earlier this week a group of 30 Democrats wrote a letter to the head of the Capitol Police and the acting sergeants-at-arms calling for an investigation into rioters’ “suspicious behavior and access” to the Capitol on January 5, which may have been facilitated by some GOP lawmakers.

“Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex,” the Democrats wrote. “The presence of these groups within the Capitol Complex was indeed suspicious.

It took 14 minutes from the moment Capitol Police reported a breach of the Capitol complex for Vice President Mike Pence to be moved to a secure location. Many in the mob were targeting Pence — at one point they were heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” — because he refused to go along with President Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The Washington Post reports:

About one minute after Pence was hustled out of the chamber, a group charged up the stairs to a second-floor landing in the Senate, chasing a Capitol Police officer who drew them away from the Senate.

Pence and his family had just ducked into a hideaway less than 100 feet from that landing, according to three people familiar with his whereabouts, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. If the pro-Trump mob had arrived seconds earlier, the attackers would have been in eyesight of the vice president as he was rushed across a reception hall into the office.

During an interview with CNN on Thursday, D.C. Metro Police officer Michael Fanone recounted how he was beaten by pro-Trump rioters who tried to take his gun, then was able to escape after some members of the mob tried to protect him after he screamed out, “I’ve got kids!”:

In a new court filing, federal prosecutors pointed to chilling evidence that the Capitol riot could have been far worse. In a memo asking an Arizona judge to keep Jacob Anthony Chansley — better known as the “QAnon Shaman” who wore a horned headdress in the Capitol — detained before his trial, prosectors said they found evidence that rioters were planning to harm lawmakers, and left a threat for Mike Pence. The Washington Post reports:

In a court filing late on Thursday, federal prosecutors in Phoenix wrote that “strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government.”

The 18-page memo, which asked a judge to keep Chansley detained before his trial, said the 33-year-old Arizona man left an ominous note for Vice President Pence at his desk in the Senate chamber: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

Chansley — who goes by Jake Angeli — was arrested and charged last week in connection to his role in the riot. As of early on Friday morning, court documents said he was being represented by the federal public defender’s office in Phoenix.

This post has been repeatedly updated to include new reporting, analysis, and commentary. Read Intelligencer’s previous coverage of the Capitol riot here.


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Capitol Riot: How the Christian Right Helped Foment Insurrection

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This story was produced by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit news organization. Get their investigations emailed to you directly by signing up at RevealNews.org/newsletter.

The January 6th Save America March, where then-President Donald Trump incited a crowd to attack the U.S. Capitol, opened with a prayer. Trump’s longtime spiritual adviser and White House adviser, the Florida televangelist Paula White, called on God to “give us a holy boldness in this hour.” Standing at the same podium where, an hour later, Trump would exhort the crowd to “fight like hell,” White called the election results into question, asking God to let the people “have the assurance of a fair and a just election.” Flanked by a row of American flags, White implored God to “let every adversary against democracy, against freedom, against life, against liberty, against justice, against peace, against righteousness be overturned right now in the name of Jesus.”

Within hours, insurrectionists had surrounded the Capitol, beaten police, battered down barricades and doors, smashed windows and rampaged through the halls of the Capitol, breaching the Senate chamber. In video captured by The New Yorker, men ransacked the room, rifling through senators’ binders and papers, searching for evidence of what they claimed was treason. Then, standing on the rostrum where the president of the Senate presides, the group paused to pray “in Christ’s holy name.” Men raised their arms in the air as millions of evangelical and charismatic parishioners do every Sunday and thanked God for allowing them “to send a message to all the tyrants, the communists and the globalists, that this is our nation, not theirs.” They thanked God “for allowing the United States of America to be reborn.”

White evangelicals have been Trump’s most dedicated, unwavering base, standing by him through the cavalcade of abuses, failures and scandals that engulfed his campaigns and his presidency — from the Access Hollywood tape to his first impeachment to his efforts to overturn the election and incite the Capitol Riot. This fervent relationship, which has survived the events of January 6th, is based on far more than a transactional handshake over judicial appointments and a crackdown on abortion and LGBTQ rights. Trump’s white evangelical base has come to believe that God anointed him and that Trump’s placement of Christian-right ideologues in critical positions at federal agencies and in federal courts was the fulfillment of a long-sought goal of restoring the United States as a Christian nation. Throughout Trump’s presidency, his political appointees implemented policies that stripped away reproductive and LGBTQ rights and tore down the separation of church and state in the name of protecting unfettered religious freedom for conservative Christians. After Joe Biden won the presidency, Trump administration loyalists launched their own Christian organization to “stop the steal,” in the ultimate act of loyalty to their divine leader.

Since even before Trump took office, his cry of “fake news” was embraced by GOP leaders and leaders on the Christian right, who reinforced their followers’ fealty by seeking to sequester them from reality and training them to dismiss any criticism of Trump as a witch hunt or a hoax. At the 2019 Faith & Freedom Coalition conference, held just months after special counsel Robert Mueller released his report on the Russia investigation, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused the president’s critics of “Trump derangement syndrome,” and Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, urged the audience to disregard mainstream news and turn instead to the “most important name in news” — “you and your circle of friends.” A few months later, amid Trump’s first impeachment hearings, then-Rep. Mark Meadows, who would go on to become Trump’s chief of staff, encouraged Christian-right activists at a luncheon at the Trump International Hotel in Washington to counteract news reports by retweeting him and other Trump loyalists in Congress. He underlined the power of this alternative information system, claiming that recent tweets from himself and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio — who would later vote to overturn the results of November’s election — had received 163 million impressions, “more than the viewership of all the networks combined.”

Over the course of 2020, those circles of disinformation became infested with QAnon conspiracy theories about a satanic, child-sex-trafficking “deep state,” priming Trump’s White evangelical shock troops for his ultimate conspiratorial lie: that the election was stolen from him and that Biden’s victory was the result of fraud. As Trump and his legal team fanned out across the country’s courthouses and right-wing airwaves, insisting that they would prove voter fraud and reverse the results of the presidential election, Christian-right leaders and media picked up the rhetoric and ran with it. By Thanksgiving, the lie that the election had been stolen from Trump had become an article of faith.

Coverage of the Capitol insurrection has focused on such far-right instigators as the white supremacist Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, a militia group. But a reconstruction of the weeks leading up January 6th shows how a Christian-right group formed to “stop the steal” worked to foment a bellicose Christian narrative in defense of Trump’s coup attempt and justify a holy war against an illegitimate state. In late November, two federal workers, Arina Grossu — who had previously worked for the Christian-right advocacy group Family Research Council — and Rob Weaver, formed a new Christian right group, the Jericho March. The new group’s goal, according to a news release announcing its launch, was to “prayerfully protest and call on government officials to cast light on voter fraud, corruption, and suppression of the will of the American people in this election.” In fact, the Jericho March would help lay the groundwork for the insurrection.

The group held its first rally in the nation’s capital December 12th, the same day other protests against the democratic process took place there. That night in Washington, the protests devolved into violence as armed members of the Proud Boys roamed the city’s streets looking to fight, stole a Black Lives Matter banner from a historic Black church and set it on fire. The Jericho March rally, which had run most of the afternoon on the National Mall, featured a lineup of some the right’s most incendiary figures, blending conspiracies and battle cries with appeals to Christianity. Eric Metaxas, a popular author, radio host and unrelenting promoter of the false claim that the election was fraudulent, was the emcee.

In an interview from the rally posted on the influential disinformation site The Epoch Times, Weaver compared the marchers he enlisted to the capital to the story of Joshua’s army in the Bible, which encircled the city of Jericho as priests blew trumpets, causing the walls to tumble down so the army could invade. Grossu told an interviewer that the election had been “stolen” from Trump, citing Trump lawyer Sidney Powell’s baseless claims about voting irregularities. Grossu promised, “God can reveal all the election fraud and corruption that stole the election from him.”

Other Jericho March speakers linked to the Trump administration pressed themes of biblical war and Christian redemption. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators, described the walls of Jericho as a metaphor for the walls around the “deep state” and pledged, “We’re going to knock those walls down.” Trump campaign adviser Roger Stone, who claimed to have been born again since his conviction for obstructing the Mueller investigation, told the crowd in a recorded message: “It was Jesus Christ who gave our president, Donald Trump, the courage and the compassion to save my life when I was unfairly and illegally targeted in the Mueller witch hunt. … My faith is in Jesus Christ, and we will make America great again and we will stop the steal.” These testimonies were punctuated with the blowing of shofars, traditionally Jewish ritual objects, to echo the trumpets sounding outside Jericho that summoned an invasion.

Gallery: Attack on the U.S. Capitol

Among the speakers were leading figures in the subsequent insurrection. Weaver and Grossu, the rally’s organizers, sang “God Bless America” with Ali Alexander, founder of Stop the Steal and a prominent organizer of the January 6th rally. Alexander had previously attracted attention in Trump circles – he was invited to a 2019 social media summit at the White House and appeared with GOP figures such as Rep. Paul Gosar at previous Stop the Steal rallies — and has said he worked with Gosar and Republican House members Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks to plan the January 6th rally. He rallied the December 12th Jericho March crowd, declaring that the event “is only the beginning.” He urged them to return to Washington on January 20th — Inauguration Day — to “occupy D.C.” According to an archived page from the Jericho March website, organizers took up the call, planning several subsequent rallies and marches, including mobilizing for Stop the Steal’s “Wild Protest” on January 6th.

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the militia group Oath Keepers, also appeared, vowing that if Trump did not “show the world who the traitors are and then use the Insurrection Act to drop the hammer on them,” then “we’re going to have to do it ourselves later in a much more desperate, much more bloody war.” Oath Keepers have since been arrested and charged with conspiracy for allegedly helping to coordinate movement inside the Capitol siege.

Alex Jones, the far-right conspiracist radio host and Trump booster, electrified the Jericho Marchers with his invocation of the Book of Revelation, thought to prophesy Christ’s return. “Christ’s crucifixion was not our defeat, it was our greatest victory,” he shouted. “The state has no jurisdiction over any of us. Our relationship with God is sacred and is eternal.” He vowed that Biden “will be removed, one way or another.

Grossu and Weaver, though, were more than just Trump fellow travelers. They were on the payroll of the federal government, which constrains employees from engaging in certain partisan political activities. Grossu was a contractor in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights, on a contract from November 6th, 2017, through January 30th, 2021, according to an agency spokesperson. For his part, Weaver was named an adviser in the department’s Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in July 2020 and served, according to the spokesperson, through January 8th, 2021. Earlier, in 2017, Trump had nominated Weaver to serve as director of the agency’s Indian Health Service. But the nomination was withdrawn after The Wall Street Journal reported that Weaver had misrepresented his experience on his resume. Weaver leveraged his new health department role at the Jericho March, saying in the live interview that day that he worked for the federal government and claiming, without providing any details, to have “seen a lot of really hidden things that I just can’t stand.” The country, Weaver said in the interview, “stands on the shoulders of Jesus. He’s the real government.”

Weaver went on, “God told me to let the church roar.”

Grossu did not respond to a request for comment, and Weaver’s email at the Department of Health and Human Services was no longer functioning; the public relations firm that handled Jericho March media relations also did not respond to requests for comment.

Speakers at the December 12th Jericho March continued to show up at protests decrying the election as fraudulent. Jones, for example, returned to Washington on January 5th for a rally at Freedom Plaza, near the White House. That rally, according to the permit, was hosted by a group called the Eighty Percent Coalition, an apparent reference to a Gallup poll that showed more than 80 percent of Republicans did not trust the results of the election. That evening, Jones reprised his Christian nationalist bombast. Employing apocalyptic language about a coming “new world order,” he called Biden a “slave of Satan” and warned that “things are going to be rough, things are going to get bad in the future.” He added that “not everybody is going to make it, but that’s OK, because in the end, God will fulfill his destiny and will reward the righteous.”

Then he turned to the next day’s events. “Tomorrow is a great day,” he shouted. “We don’t quietly take the election fraud, we don’t quietly take the scam and believe their BS. We’ve seen the evidence. The system has had to desperately engage in this gambit to maintain control, but this will be their Waterloo, this will be their destruction.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. - DECEMBER 12: US President Donald Trump supporters demonstrating against the election results march to the Supreme Court to protest against the Court's decision not to overturn the election, on December 12, 2020 in Washington, D.C. Thousands of protesters who refuse to accept that President-elect Joe Biden won the election are rallying ahead of the electoral college vote to make Trump’s 306-to-232 loss official. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

Trump supporters demonstrating against the election results march to the Supreme Court to protest against the Court’s decision not to overturn the election, on December 12, 2020 in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images


The next day, Trump goaded protesters to march to the Capitol. Jones is seen in video footage of the insurrection scraped from Parler and other social media giving directions to rioters through a bullhorn. The day after the insurrection, Jones claimed the White House had asked him to lead the march to the Capitol.

The events of January 6th shook the nation, but they appear to have done little to weaken Trump’s White evangelical support. A Marist College/PBS/NPR poll, conducted after January 6th, found that 63 percent of White evangelicals did not trust the election results were accurate, and a similar number, 65 percent, did not believe Trump was to blame for the violence at the Capitol. A poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that while Trump left office with his lowest overall favorability rating since his 2016 campaign — 31 percent — his approval rate was twice as high among White evangelicals.

The Sunday after the insurrection, Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White was back in the pulpit at City of Destiny, the church she pastors in Apopka, Florida. Trump and White have been friends since the mid-2000s, when he invited her for a meeting after he spotted the blond televangelist while channel surfing. White briefly condemned “lawlessness,” but then mounted a strong defense of free speech rights and assured her congregation that “God is still at work.” She recounted the story in the first Book of Samuel, in which the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant. In the biblical story, the ark is considered too holy for the apostate Philistines, “the eternal enemies of God,” as White described them, to handle, and God returns it to the Israelites — evidence that, in White’s view, God will restore America to its rightful inheritors, too.

Other evangelical leaders sought to deny reality, blaming the violence of that day on antifa or Black Lives Matter protesters who they falsely claimed had posed as Trump supporters. Michele Bachmann, the former Republican congresswoman who is now a dean at Regent University, had been inside the Capitol during the January 6th siege. Speaking to a prayer call with other Christian-right leaders that evening, she said: “You know the kind of people that we were with. The nicest, friendliest, happiest — it was like a family reunion out there. It was incredible, it was wonderful, and then all of a sudden, this happens.” Of the rioters at the Capitol, Bachmann insisted that “this wasn’t the Trump crowd, this didn’t look anything like the Trump crowd or the prayer warriors.”

Lance Wallnau, a popular evangelical author, speaker and Trump loyalist who attended the January 6th protest, echoed that same theme. “This is not your typical evangelical, I’m telling you right now,” he told Metaxas on his radio program the day after the insurrection, “and they’re banging on the hoods of the police and they’re creating a scene, I said, ‘This is the local antifa mob and this is like from the playbook 101.’ ”

By January 8th, the Jericho March had posted a statement denouncing violence and scrubbed any reference to Stop the Steal’s January 6th protest.

Accountability for the former president was not on the table. Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas has been close to Trump for years, as one of the first evangelical leaders to endorse his candidacy in 2016. He condemned the violence but stopped short of blaming it on Trump, telling Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting that while he accepts the election results, Trump “has a right to believe” that it was stolen.

Another influential Trump ally, Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, sent an unmistakable signal to Republican lawmakers that their White evangelical base would not tolerate a second impeachment. In a Facebook post, Graham compared the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to Judas, whose betrayal of Jesus led to his crucifixion. “It makes you wonder,” he wrote, “what the thirty pieces of silver were that Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi promised for this betrayal.”

Meanwhile, the Christian right is readying its troops for an escalation of the culture war: a campaign to delegitimize not only Biden’s presidency, but any Democratic election victory. Bachmann, during the prayer call just hours after the insurrection, claimed that Democrats also “stole” control of the Senate when Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won their seats in Georgia — a development Bachmann repeatedly called a “coup.”

That narrative means that Republican lawmakers can rest assured that their most loyal base will have their back as they reject Trump’s second impeachment, obstruct the Democratic legislative agenda and refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Democratic president and Democratic leadership of Congress. The movement’s new jeremiad, a battle against the democratic process itself, is just getting started.

On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism advisory bulletin that warned of the potential costs of the false claims at the heart of that battle: “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”


This story was edited by Esther Kaplan and Matt Thompson and copy edited by Nikki Frick. Sarah Posner can be reached at sarahposner1@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter: @sarahposner.


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Trump bears responsibility | Letters to the Editor

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from www.chronicleonline.com – RSS Results in opinion/letters_to_editor of type article.

I take issue with Nikki Haley’s comment to “give former President Trump a break,” when asked about the insurrection on Jan. 6, and the trial of former President Trump on serious charges of incitement of the insurrection at the Capitol. At his rally that morning, Trump instigated his followers to attack the Capitol and is responsible for the death of one police officer and injuries to several others, and trying to prevent the Congress from carrying out their constitutional duties.

The former president will receive a fair trial. No one is above the law and to protect our democracy and uphold our laws, the trial needs to be held.


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