Economy 20-12-2023 01:12 11 Views

New details emerge showing secrecy from White House on planned march on Jan. 6

The riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, required multiple catalysts. One was the willingness of some of those present to engage in violence: small-scale violence like upending barriers or aggressive violence like attacking law enforcement with blunt objects. Another was the mass of people who were surrounding the building and its defenders, a mass that pressed forward against those barriers and which fed into the energy of the moment.

This development was anticipated by some of those engaged in explicit violence. In private chats from the days before the riot, members of the right-wing group Proud Boys discussed whether “the normies” — that is, other protesters — and other attendees were “going to push through police lines and storm the capitol buildings.” On the day of the riot, members of the group engaged to “ril[e] up the normies.” The thousands of people who walked from President Donald Trump’s speech south of the White House to the Capitol that day were a force multiplier.

On the day of the riot, there wasn’t supposed to be a march from the speech to the Capitol — at least, not according to permits obtained by the group that was organizing the day’s events, Women for America First (WFAF). But those permits diverged from what WFAF was presenting publicly.

A new report from the Interior Department’s inspector general details that divide. As we documented in February 2021, WFAF was a central player in efforts to merge disparate protests planned by supporters of Trump (including from organizers of the “Stop the Steal” movement) into one intertwined series: an event on the evening of Jan. 5, the rally at the Ellipse on the following morning and a protest at the Capitol itself as Congress was gaveling in to finalize Trump’s loss of the 2020 election. All of this was promoted under the rubric of being a “March to Save America” — itself an evolution of the “March for Trump” branding that had powered a D.C. protest in December.

The calvary is coming, Mr. President!

JANUARY 6th | Washington, DChttps://t.co/kyp7WF8o5r

#MarchForTrump #StopTheSteal pic.twitter.com/A6VkNZPlPx

— Kylie Jane Kremer (@KylieJaneKremer) December 19, 2020

How the “March to Save America” would get from the Ellipse to the Capitol was not really a mystery. Yet, in permit applications submitted by WFAF (having shifted a post-inauguration protest to Jan. 6 following Trump’s December 2020 “be there, will be wild” tweet), no march was identified. In fact, according to the inspector general’s investigation, WFAF representatives consistently denied that a march would take place.

The U.S. House select committee that investigated the riot and Trump’s efforts to retain power unearthed evidence that a march was, in fact, planned — and known about by the White House. There was a social media post drafted for Trump, for example, in which the president would advertise that he was making “a Big Speech at 10AM on January 6th” with a “March to the Capitol after.” The draft was stamped “President has seen,” but the post was not published.

The committee also heard testimony from Max L. Miller, an aide to Trump who was later elected to Congress from Ohio.

“I mean, he literally — they had sent out the invite, and it said ‘Save America March,’” Miller told investigators. “It’s — I’m not trying to sound how I’m sounding, but it’s more than implied within the title of the rally.”

Yet WFAF’s Kylie Kremer told the committee that there was no plan to call for a march.

If Trump supporters “want to come to the Ellipse and come to the event that is presented by Women for America First,” she said, “and then they want to go to an event with … ‘Stop the Steal’ or whatever” — the one planned for the Capitol — “people are free to make their own decisions.”

But the committee obtained a text message she sent to MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, one of the potential speakers, on Jan. 4. In that message to Lindell, Kremer made clear that a march was intended — and being kept secret. The inspector general’s report includes the full communication:

“This stays only between us, we are having a second stage at the Supreme Court again after the ellipse. POTUS is going to have us march there/the Capitol.”
“It cannot get out about the second stage because people will try and set another up and Sabotage it. It can also not get out about the march because I will be in trouble with the national park service and all the agencies but POTUS is going to just call for it ‘unexpectedly’…”
“Only myself and [White House liaison] know full story of what is actually happening and we are having to appease many people by saying many things.”

According to the IG report, there would have been no negative repercussions for WFAF had the march been reported. Instead, there would simply have been more planning involved, including identifying people to act as marshals to ensure the march progressed safely. But the White House and its allies instead opted for secrecy.

It’s not entirely clear why. Trump’s attorneys had warned his team about the possible legal repercussions of his going to the Capitol himself, warnings that failed to prevent Trump from telling the crowd at the Ellipse that he was going and, according to reports, from trying to go there that day.

The aforementioned White House liaison was likely to be Katrina Pierson. She also was interviewed by committee investigators and told them that in the days before Jan. 6 she had tried to dissuade Trump’s team from letting the president engage with fringe-right actors like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who was involved with “Stop the Steal.”

Jones would later tell people that he had been invited by the White House to “lead the march” to the Capitol.

Whatever the reason for the effort at secrecy from the White House and its allies, the effect of masking the intent to march is obvious. Law enforcement had been alerted to rumblings about movement from the Ellipse to the Capitol (as the IG report notes), but there was no planning for it, no accommodation for the huge mass of people that ended up making the trek.

So, in the end, there were a lot of normies on Capitol Hill that day and far fewer police than were needed to contain them.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post
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