Jordan Green

Michael Flynn associate among the first wave of rioters to breach Capitol barricades on January 6th

A close associate of retired Lt. General Michael Flynn was among the first wave of rioters who breached the outer barricades at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Raw Story has confirmed.

Brian Gamble, a US Navy veteran and QAnon promoter who now serves as chief information officer of a nonprofit led by Flynn, showed up at the barricades erected at the entrance to the Northwest Walkway about 30 minutes before a crowd that included hundreds of Proud Boys massed there and eventually overwhelmed police lines. Gamble’s presence has been described in podcasts by Tim Hart, a fellow QAnon promoter who accompanied Gamble on Jan. 6 and is currently facing two felony charges related to his involvement in the attack on the Capitol.

Publicly available video shows Gamble, who was dressed in a black helmet inscribed with the words “Kill the Deep State”, a black tactical shirt and black gloves while carrying a bullhorn and chest-mounted GoPro camera, at the front of the line when three successive barriers were breached, allowing rioters to stream onto the Capitol lawn. Gamble and Hart made their way to the Lower West Plaza, where rioters battled police in riot gear, and eventually rushed up a staircase in the scaffolding erected for Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Patrick Byrne, the former CEO who has financed a string of election-denier efforts while working alongside Flynn since 2020, told Raw Story that Gamble disclosed his presence at the Capitol when he hired him at the America Project in May 2021. The America Project was founded by Byrne, along with Michael Flynn and his younger brother, Joe Flynn.

“On the morning of January 6, Brian decided on this approach: He would walk towards the Capitol until someone told him to stop,” Byrne said in a text to Raw Story. “When someone told him to leave, he would leave. And in between the two, he would do to [sic] keep everyone calm, assist anyone who needed it. And if an opportunity arose to assist the police in keeping things peaceful, he would do so. He followed that plan.”

Hart said in an interview with the QAnon program Bards Logic earlier this year that the sound was bad at the Ellipse, where President Trump was speaking, and he suggested to Gamble, whom he referred to as “my buddy,” that they should “just walk down to the Capitol” so they could “be the first in line.”

Hart has described his movements with Gamble on Jan. 6 on different podcasts, along with an interview for Patriot Soap Box, a QAnon-friendly program, that he joined live after he and Gamble returned to their hotel room following the attack on the Capitol.

“There was three gates; this is the first one that — basically, me and Brian stayed there for half an hour and just chilled and talked,” Hart explained on the program while showing video footage he recorded. “And then a lot of people got up in there. And then they basically just pushed from behind and we were, uh, I mean, like literally bowling pins and just kind of pushing the gates down. And it wasn’t like I was trying. I was talking to the people, the guards there, and they knew we weren’t the ones pushing.”

Hart was playing Trump’s speech on a portable radio, and the timing of Trump’s remarks confirms that Hart and Gamble were at the barrier at 12:28 p.m. — roughly 30 minutes before the initial breach.

During the interview, Hart suggested that he and Gamble assessed the barricades at the Northwest Walkway for vulnerabilities.

Gamble can be seen in the background of the video as Hart turns to him and says, “They weren’t very prepared, were they? We were like, ‘Man, that looks like a weak spot there.’ We would say it to ourselves, and then it wasn’t two minutes later that they’re — I don’t know.”

Brian Gamble and Tim Hart discuss security at US Capitol

Gamble told Raw Story he was not familiar with the video, and declined to directly address Hart’s statement.

“It’s a shame that people like you are more about division and not unity, and so that’s all I’ve got to say,” he said before hanging up the phone.

While falsely claiming that nothing was destroyed in the Capitol building, Hart said in the Patriot Soapbox interview: “After the results I seen that the bastards did tonight I’m thinking maybe they should have burned it down. Then they could have at least held the vote off.”

Gamble can be seen in the video directly behind Hart as he made the statement.

In another segment of Hart’s interview, an unidentified woman said she wanted to get someone to read from the Book of Esther, a text embraced by Christian nationalists.

“Esther’s a really good book to read for things in times like this,” the woman said. “Remember, Haman was hung on his own gallows.”

“I’m thinking what they do in times like this is — I’m thinking them patriots that got pepper-sprayed in the face are going back and being like, ‘Damn, I need to clean my guns,’” Hart responded. “I mean, I don’t understand what the other options are after this. We’ll sit back and wait a little bit longer. But this whole Q thing was to keep patriots from storming the freaking White House.”

Byrne said Gamble disclosed to him during his job interview that he had been interviewed by federal investigators, adding that “they let him know that the videos of his behavior had all been examined and it had been broadly noted that he had acted as a good citizen.”

Online researchers who began poring over video footage of the Jan. 6 attack identified Gamble as early as April 2021. Hart was charged with obstruction of justice/Congress and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder, along with four additional charges connected to his actions inside the Capitol building, in June 2021, but Gamble has not been arrested. The FBI did not respond to an inquiry about Gamble from Raw Story.

In an interview with the Firearms of America YouTube channel shortly after he joined the America Project, Gamble disclosed that he had been fired from his job because of the FBI investigation.

“You know, the FBI contacted my employer,” Gamble told host Frank Valentine. “What do you do? They contact your employer, and say, ‘Although he’s not under investigation or being charged with anything — yet… we just want to let you know, be aware of this person’s extracurricular activities. Which, technically, is code for saying he hangs out with General Flynn. I mean, General Flynn is the most crucified politician.”

After briefly serving as Trump’s national security advisor, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The Department of Justice later moved to drop its prosecution of the case, and in November 2020 — during the interim period between the 2020 election and Biden’s inauguration — President Trump issued a pardon to Flynn.

Flynn emerged as one of the most visible champions of Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen, simultaneously leveraging his past military service and martyr status as a supposed target of the “Deep State.”

On the eve of the attack on the Capitol, Flynn addressed supporters at Freedom Plaza, using language that invoked struggle and suggested a historic inflection point was at hand.

“Tomorrow, tomorrow — trust me — the American people that are standing on the soil that we are standing on tonight, and they’re going to be standing on this soil tomorrow — this is soil that we have fought over, fought for, and that we will fight for in the future,” Flynn said. “The members of Congress, the members of the House of Representatives, the members of the United States Senate, those of you who are feeling weak tonight, those of you who don’t have the moral fiber in your body, get some tonight because tomorrow we the people are going to be here and we want you to know that we will not stand for a lie.”

Gamble is not the only associate of Michael Flynn who has been identified as being at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Publicly available video shows Geoffrey Flohr, a former Michigan State Police officer who previously served in Flynn’s security detail during a rally on Dec. 12, moving around the east side of the Capitol less than 20 minutes before rioters broke through a barricade there. Flohr was a member of 1st Amendment Praetorian, a volunteer security group that provided protected details to Flynn, Ali Alexander, Brandon Straka and other leaders in the effort to overturn the election. No member of 1st Amendment Praetorian, including Flohr, has been arrested in connection with the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6. But a lawyer for the group has disclosed that Joshua James, a member of the Oath Keepers who has pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy, had been a member of 1st Amendment Praetorian prior to Jan. 6.

During his appearance before the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Flynn asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege to not give testimony that could be used against him a criminal proceeding when asked by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.): “Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified?”

In a public statement released earlier this year in response to the committee, Flynn said it was "a flat-out lie that I had anything to do with any person or organization who intended to act, or who acted, unlawfully on January 6."

During a pro-Trump event in Fort Myers, Fla. in July 2021, Gamble said he received a phone call from “Flynn” shortly after he was fired from his job. Gamble did not specify whether the call was from Michael Flynn or Joe Flynn, but said the caller put him in touch with Byrne, who interviewed him for the position and ultimately hired him.

Gamble appears to have come to the Flynn family’s attention after organizing the first Red Pill Roadshow event with his wife at the Washington Monument in September 2019. Gamble said his wife asked him to help her put together the event to create a forum QAnon supporters to meet in person after some of her favorite influencers were “censored.” Afterwards, they celebrated the success of the event at the Trump International Hotel, and Gamble said he ran into Brad Parscale, the digital media director for the Trump campaign.

Gamble told Valentine that he attended at a book-signing event for Sidney Powell, who represented Flynn in his effort to get his federal charge dismissed. Gamble said he handed a “Magic Q-ball” — a novelty item he marketed to defray costs for Red Pill Roadshow — to Powell and asked her to pass it on to Michael Flynn.

Suddenly, Gamble recounted, he felt two hands on his shoulders and turned around to find a man saying, “Red Pill Roadshow? The Flynn family are huge fans of yours.”

During an Aug. 20, 2020 interview with QAnon influencer Dustin Nemos to promote an upcoming event in Jacksonville, Fla. that was timed to coincide with the Republican National Convention, Gamble said that he had spoken with a member of the Flynn family earlier that day. Gamble said the topic of the call was about Michael Flynn potentially joining the event remotely or the family providing a pre-recorded statement.

Despite providing a platform for QAnon influencers and marketing QAnon-themed merchandise, Gamble tends to downplay his association with the conspiracy theory. He told Valentine that his wife “was following” the QAnon movement at the time of the first event in 2019, adding, “I don’t agree with what their beliefs are, but I know that they’re Americans and what they’re saying is protected by our First Amendment.”

Many of Gamble’s statements in response to coverage of his Red Pill Roadshow events follow a three-part pattern of denying and deflecting attention from his association with QAnon, emphasizing free speech, and attacking the news media.

Responding to coverage by a local NBC affiliate about Michael Flynn’s appearance at an event in southwest Florida in March 2021, Gamble told a conservative outlet: “To say we’re a QAnon event or anything like that — nothing could be further from the truth. We’re free speech event.” He went on to condemn media coverage of the event as “the typical scare tactic used against our events to try and suppress opposing political views in the public domain.”

Gamble’s criticism dovetails with Flynn’s efforts to discredit the news media.

Flynn ended an interview with an Associated Press reporter in February 2022 after she asked him if he communicated with his brother, Gen. Charles Flynn, on Jan. 6.

“Because of this interview, I will never talk to AP again,” Flynn said. He added, “I’m so sick of this because it’s all so fake and it’s so targeted. It’s all about, ‘We’re gonna get this guy.’”

Gamble told Nemos that he developed a disdain for the news media while serving in the US Navy in the Balkans in the late 1990s.

As a 19-year-old service member with Cosmic Top Secret clearance — giving him access to sensitive information held by NATO allies — Gamble said he would review “message traffic,” and then “come out of my tent” and “see a CNN correspondent saying something that has absolutely nothing to do with the truth.

“My field is information, so yeah, I’ve been a digital soldier — I’ve been a thorn in their side since the nineties, so a digital soldier for some time,” Gamble added. “So, yeah, that’s how I got into this.”

It was in the US Navy, Gamble told an audience in Fort Myers in July 2021, that he received training in psychological operations.

“And I was rushed into this program to where I started learning about information warfare, psychological operations and information analysis and stuff like that,” he said. “So, I had a unique perspective about how the United States military processes information.”

In another interview with Michael Thompson at the Florida Conservative, Gamble said he was discharged from the military under a reduction of forces program during the Clinton administration. After leaving the military, he said he created Yahoo online chat rooms.

“Like, we were Alex Jones in the late nineties on the internet, before it was cool, I guess you could say,” Gamble said.

Gamble’s training in psychological operations mirrors his boss, Michael Flynn’s background in military intelligence. Flynn served as director of intelligence in the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan prior to heading the US Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014.

“America Project — we are information experts,” Gamble told Thompson. “That is one of the reasons I landed there with my background.”

The America Project is described on its website as “the largest support network of America First, pro-freedom organizations, businesses and individuals,” with six focus areas in “election integrity, medical freedom, border security, parental rights, Second Amendment rights and freedom of religion.”

Discussing the nonprofits’ work with Thompson, Gamble described it as a “counterbalance” to liberal financier and philanthropist George Soros, a bogeyman of the far right.

“We’re developing the systems, the platforms, the networks,” Gamble said. “Now, when a bus shows up, we got two buses showing up — and the information and organization and the funding that takes to really counter what they’re doing.”

Gamble has cultivated ties with two extremist groups that featured prominently in the attack on the Capitol. His name is listed on a membership roster of the far-right militia group the Oath Keepers that was leaked through the group Distributed Denial of Secrets last year. The entry for Gamble indicates that he paid an annual membership, but does not include a date for the transaction. Raw Story was able to reach Gamble by calling the phone number listed in the Oath Keepers membership roster.

Five members of the Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes, are currently on trial in Washington, DC for seditious conspiracy in connection with their actions at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

More recently, in July 2021, Gamble disclosed that he had met with Enrique Tarrio, at one time the national chairman of the Proud Boys. Tarrio was arrested seven months later, in March 2022, and is also charged with seditious conspiracy, along with four other Proud Boys leaders. In July, Gamble posted a photo on Facebook of himself and Tarrio giving the middle finger to the camera. The text accompanying the photo reads, “Dear Christopher Wray,” apparently addressing the FBI director.

Brian Gamble and Tim Hart at Lower West Plaza

After Gamble and Hart joined the group of rioters that pushed through the barricades at the Northwest Walkway entrance on Jan. 6, they followed them to the Lower West Plaza. Video posted on Parler on Jan. 6 shows Gamble and Hart standing on a small staircase surveying the plaza as at least a half-dozen Proud Boys and known associates move in and out of a crowd massed against a line of Capitol police in riot gear.

At 1:10 p.m., Gamble can be seen speaking to a police officer at the top of the stairs as Hart uses a telescoping rod to obtain crowd footage. Gamble can also be seen using his GoPro camera to film the crowd. Meanwhile, a Proud Boy from southwest Florida named James Hoel can be seen coming up the staircase, eventually moving past Hart and Gamble, and speaking with the same officer.

It is unclear whether Gamble and Hoel — both residents of southwest Florida — knew each other at the time, but Hoel has subsequently become infamous as the Proud Boy who was elected alongside Michael Flynn to serve on the Sarasota County Republican Executive Committee.

Roughly around the same time that Hoel was speaking with the officer another man can be seen in the video and wedged himself between Hart and Gamble.

“What are you waiting for?” he yells, becoming increasingly incensed. “We already voted, and what have they done? They stole it. We want our f***ing country back.”

At the same time, Gamble can be seen speaking to Hart, and Hart soon turns towards the crowd on the plaza and starts motioning with his hand.

“Let’s go!” yells the man on the staircase and others. “Come on.”

“We gotta go lawfully, man,” and unidentified man can be heard arguing. “Legally and lawfully.”

But the video shows others prevailing over the man who counseled respect for the law. The video shows a handful of rioters, including Ronald Loehrke, a man who marched with the Proud Boys, pointing towards the scaffolding where the rioters had found a lightly guarded staircase. The rioters began pointing towards the staircase and yelling, “We gotta go,” within 20 seconds of Hart’s hand gesture. They would soon rush up the staircase, eventually allowing them to reach a window that Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola broke out with a stolen police riot shield.

Although there is no evidence Gamble went inside the Capitol, images captured by professional photographers and videographers show that he donned a gas mask and went up on the scaffolding.

Byrne told Raw Story that Gamble assisted the police on the Lower West Plaza and on a couple other occasions.

“They did not have enough men to cover an area they were trying to cover,” Byrne said. “He offered the policeman in front of them that if they wanted him to, he would step up and block this one space that they did not have blocked. They agreed to his cooperation, and he actually stood up at one point at the end of the police line for the police, making sure that no one could squeeze through this crack that was open on the side of the planter. The police thanked him.”

Federal court filing challenges claim that Donald Trump rescinded special counsel appointment

Patrick Bergy, a former Department of Defense contract information assurance security officer who was embedded with a group of pro-Trump conspiracy theorists in Washington, DC following the 2020 election, is publicly questioning an account by his one-time benefactor, Patrick Byrne, the former CEO.

Last week, Byrne filed a sworn declaration in the federal case for the search warrant executed at former President Donald Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago in south Florida. While the purpose of Byrne’s affidavit remains unclear, it included an intriguing tidbit of information relevant to a widely reported Dec. 18, 2020 meeting in which Byrne, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and attorney Sidney Powell visited Trump in the Oval Office. During the contentious meeting, which devolved into a shouting match with White House lawyers, Byrne, Flynn and Powell reportedly urged Trump to use the Department of Homeland Security or the National Guard to seize voting machines. At the end of the meeting, Trump reportedly appointed Powell to the position of special counsel.

In his declaration, filed in federal court in the Southern District of Florida on Aug. 18, Byrne wrote that Rudy Giuliani, who was serving as Trump’s personal attorney in the final days of the administration, disclosed to him during a lunch meeting in January 2022 that after Byrne, Flynn and Powell left the White House around 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 19, Giuliani lingered with Trump for a couple of minutes. According to Byrne’s declaration, Giuliani told him that after the others had left, “the president verbally reversed his decision and instructions” to appoint Powell special counsel, “and that is why those earlier decisions were never implemented.”

Bergy suggests in his affidavit, which was filed on Thursday, that he doubts Byrne's account about Giuliani's disclosure from the January 2022 lunch meeting. In his affidavit, Bergy describes observing Byrne leaving a meeting with Giuliani at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC around Jan. 11, 2021. Others in attendance at the meeting, according to Bergy, were Garrett Ziegler, a White House aide; conspiracy theorist Millie Weaver and her common-law husband Gavin Wince, and Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who pushed dubious claims of voter fraud to lawmakers.

“As I walked in Patrick Byrne was just leaving and was acting visibly upset following the meeting with Rudy and Garrett,” Bergy wrote. The affidavit concludes with Bergy writing that Byrne’s claim that he only learned about Trump's decision to rescind Powell’s appointment in January 2022 “defies logic based on how upset Patrick Byrne was when I saw him leaving the Willard meeting that day.”

Asked about Bergy’s account, Byrne said in an email to Raw Story that he saw Giuliani on the night of Jan. 6 and left Washington, DC on Jan. 8. He said Ziegler was not present when he encountered Giuliani. Bergy, in turn, told Raw Story he stands by his claim that he saw Byrne leaving a meeting with Giuliani and Ziegler, but that it could have taken place on Jan. 7 or 8.

Bergy describes himself in his affidavit as a “guest of Patrick Byrne, Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell and others” at Trump International Hotel, the Westin Arlington Gateway and Willard Hotel from mid-November 2020 through Jan. 17, 2021. During part of that time, he said he was also “a guest under an unsigned or dated Non-Disclosure Agreement with Rudy Giuliani, which I do not recognize.”

As previously reported by Raw Story, Bergy said he was invited to come to Washington, DC by Weaver and Wince, and joined a team housed by Byrne in the various hotels that also included conspiracy theorist Tore Maras; former military contractor Scott Bennett and Stephen Pigeon, an attorney for Washington state gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp. Bergy described the group’s purpose in his affidavit as “working to find evidence of election fraud, with the main focus being told to me put on the foreign influence that would allow them to use the Insurrection Act and call in National Guard.”

Bergy told Raw Story that he doubts that Giuliani actually witnessed Trump rescind his appointment of Sidney Powell after Powell, Byrne and Flynn left the White House in the early-morning hours following the Dec. 18, 2020 meeting. He said he doesn’t recall any mention of Trump revoking Powell’s authority among the network of people in Washington attempting to overturn the election after Dec. 18.

“If you want me to believe that story, sorry Charlie,” Bergy told Raw Story. “The timing on it and everything else going on, it’s just no way. Until someone shows me evidence otherwise, I would steer towards that not being the case. Even if he did tell Rudy, if you had a two-minute conversation with Rudy and no one else was around, how am I supposed to believe that?

“I can’t sit here and say Rudy lied, but I can say I don’t believe it,” Bergy added.

Neither Giuliani nor his attorneys could be reached for comment on this story.

Bergy told Raw Story that he believes the claim made by Byrne has the effect of protecting Trump.

As someone who has worked for the government on information security, Bergy said, the knowledge that the president had verbally rescinded an appointment that included a top-secret security clearance would have raised concern.

“It would have required that a full investigation for potential leaks or potential damage from that be investigated,” he said.

'Man who made January 6th possible' launches dating app for Donald Trump fans

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One of ex-President Donald Trump’s closest and youngest political advisors is developing The Right Stuff, a dating app for young right-wingers looking for love in Trumpland.

It launches officially next month with $1.5 million in seed money from tech billionaire Peter Thiel.

Ryann McEnany — sister of ex-Trump White House press secretary and Fox News contributor Kayleigh McEnany — explains how it works in a YouTube video.

Like most dating apps, it has icebreaker questions for users to answer. But McEnany doesn’t show any questions about pets, favorite foods, ‘best vacations ever’ or beloved movie quotes.

Her demo shows The Right Stuff asking users for their “favorite liberal lie” and a “quick rant.” There’s also a fill-in-the-blank sentence that begins, “Alexa, change the….”

The woman in the video inserts the word “President.”

McEnany explains users must attach photos of themselves engaged in fun activities with family and “people you love.” The demo shows a young woman golfing as Trump leans over her, grinning and giving the thumbs-up sign.

“We’re sorry,” McEnany says to her unseen audience,
“that you’ve had to endure years of bad dates and wasted time with people who don’t see the world our way: the right way.”

The app was co-founded by three former Trump world figures, including John McEntee, a former Trump administration official The ABC News’ Jonathan Karl called “the man who made Jan. 6 possible.”

John McEntee managed Fox News social media accounts before he joined the Trump campaign in 2016. He was 29 in 2020 when Trump hired him as Office of Presidential Personnel director.

During his tenure, McEntee froze all political appointments in the federal government. He ordered department heads to search for anyone who wasn’t fully loyal and devoted to Trump and remove them. McEntee’s new role was controversial for he had been fired from the White House in 2018 for being unable to get the required security clearance.

The controversy didn’t put a dent in his clout, even after Trump lost the election and insurrection ensued.

“McEntee and his enforcers made the disastrous last weeks of the Trump presidency possible,” Karl wrote in The Atlantic. “They backed the president’s manic drive to overturn the election and helped set the stage for the January 6 assault on the Capitol. Thanks to them, in the end, the elusive ‘adults in the room’ —those who might have been willing to confront the president or try to control his most destructive tendencies—were silenced or gone. But McEntee was there bossing around Cabinet secretaries, decapitating the civilian leadership at the Pentagon, and forcing officials high and low to state their allegiance to Trump.”

Stuff’s other cofounders are Dan Huff, Trump’s Housing and Urban Development deputy assistant and tech expert Isaac Stalzer.

Ryann McEnany’s Twitter profile describes her as a Digital Marketing & Brand Communications Strategist with 171,200 followers. Her tweets this week describe Liz Cheney as “a nasty woman” and rejoice over her primary loss with “Liz Cheney has been so out of touch with reality and a disgrace to her own party... but tonight justice was served.”

Then, “I can’t wait for Trump to win again.”

Twitter’s response to the app she promotes is mixed.

@govmikeyd tweeted “Is this (app) named after the movie about a Democratic senator?” The reference is to Democratic Ohio Senator and trailblazing astronaut John Glenn whose story was told in the film classic, The Right Stuff.

A potential male user was annoyed by The Right Stuff’s offer to let women use the premium app free if they convince two female friends to join.

“Why is this app ‘Woke’ giving privileges to women?” @anothergamer demanded in his tweet.

Another dating app launched in 2008, The Righter seems to be the Stuff’s main competition since it also targets Trump-loving singles. Created by former banker Christy Edwards Lawton, who once boasted to NBC news that conservatives have better orgasms than liberals, Righter’s Google Play entry warns potential users that it is “not a hookup app” and has a three strikes, you’re out policy toward users who are crude or abusive.

Unlike Stuff’s focus on Gen Z and millennial users, Righter pitches to older users, too. And it has an unorthodox perk.

“Righter is the first dating app to have a medical component to it, With RIGHTER Medical, access to a doctor that specializes in sexual health is only a click away,” Lawton writes on her LinkedIn bio. Use Righter “when you’re tired of getting swiped left on for your political beliefs.”

Out of 724 Google reviews, Righter averages only 1.1 stars with 5 being the highest rating. Many of the reviewers complained about technical glitches.

“I have the age set to 18-28, but I consistently get people very well over that limit,” one reviewer wrote. “There are also issues with liberal trolls on there. I already ran into several.”

McEnany says in her promo that membership in The Right Stuff is by invitation only.

Another dating app for Trumpers called Donald Daters seems to have vanished after Motherboard discovered a 2018 security breach that exposed user data in an open database.

RepublicanSingles may be the David to McEntee’s Goliath. University of Kansas alum Jason Daniels began developing it in 2015 and launched it this month. It welcomes both libertarians and conservatives — and its promotional video never mentions Trump.

“We have Trump supporters and Trump haters,” Daniels told Raw Story, describing his membership. “I’m big on freedom, so I allow my members to say what they want, excluding threats against me or my company, threats of violence against anyone, or anything involving illegal activity.”

Asked for the biggest difference between Stuff and RepublicanSingles, Daniels replied wryly, “I’ve had to build mine on a shoestring budget, driving Uber to fund it along the way.” He told Raw Story that he bought the domain on a “GoDaddy auction with the last $1,000 to my name, after negotiating the previous owner down from $5,000.”

His first site and app went live in September 2018, but Daniels continues to work on it nonstop to refine and improve it.

“I redid everything last month,” he said.

He relaunched the new version this month. The app has 11 reviews but almost all were written before this year’s overhaul. The average score is 2.4 out of 5. Complaints focused entirely on tech issues.

The site’s mission statement outlines Daniels’ conservative principles: supporting the Second Amendment, opposing same sex marriage, life begins before conception. However, Daniels realizes not all users may not precisely reflect those views because he has Libertarian friends eager to use the app.

Daniels also discusses Jesus as the Messiah when he lists conservative values. But he says Jewish members have joined RepublicanSingles and “I don’t preach at anyone. I just pray they find their way to their Messiah as I have.”

Stuff’s website has a template for anyone interested in joining. But there is no information other than McEnany’s video about what values it expects its users to possess other than Trump love.

During the Obama Administration, the market for politically filtered dating apps was clear. Pew’s 2014 polarization survey found that 30 percent of conservatives said they would be unhappy and disapprove of a relative marrying a Democrat, and 23 percent of Democrats disapproved of relatives marrying Republicans.

Yet so far, the media coverage of The Right Stuff has been skimpy. And the press hasn’t noticed one snafu: there’s already a dating site called The Right Stuff online.

It’s strictly for faculty and graduates of the eight Ivy League universities---Brown University, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth College, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton and Yale—plus some other elite, prestigious schools. The full list is posted on The Right Stuff website. It includes Stanford, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Northwestern, Vassar, University of Chicago, MIT, Brandeis, Princeton, New York University and Juilliard.

Potential members must submit proof they have a diploma from one of the elite universities. The site lists acceptable forms of proof: a copy of the diploma, a page from an alumni or faculty directory that includes the applicant’s name, photo of an alumni or faculty card, a copy of one’s “alumni magazine with computerized address label intact, any correspondence from the university indicating that you are a graduate or faculty member, copy of your transcript. (Our eyes are blind to grades).”

There are special interest groups for the smartypants Right Stuffers, ranging from downhill and X-country skiers and dancers to foodies and “policy wonks; this is the right time for discussion.”

Raw Story asked Dawn Touchings, the Cornell alum who founded the Ivy Leaguers’ The Right Stuff in 1993, whether she was concerned about confusion between the two dating services.

Touchings emailed back, “I am concerned.”

She declined an interview saying it would be “premature” at this time.

What we know about Alex Jones' role in the January 6th insurrection

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Congressional investigators hoped that volumes of phone texts that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones accidentally turned over to opposing counsel in civil litigation would yield answers about his involvement in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, but the texts reportedly only cover a period through mid-2020.

Mark Bankston, who represents the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, has reportedly said the cache includes texts with political operative Roger Stone, a longtime friend of former President Donald Trump who, alongside Jones, became a major tribune of the campaign to overturn the 2020 election. The effort by the House select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol to obtain the texts highlights the panel’s sustained interest in Jones’ role.

To date, Jones has not been charged in the attack, but he has played prominent roles in amplifying the messaging of the campaign to overturn the election and building the infrastructure of the protests in the run-up to the attack, culminating in his presence on the ground at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The committee’s interest in Jones was on display during a hearing on July 12 through recorded testimony of Kellye SoRelle, general counsel for the Oath Keepers. Nine members of the far-right militia face seditious conspiracy charges. SoRelle confirmed that Jones’ name was among three prominent figureheads during the series of protests leading up to Jan. 6.

“You mentioned that Mr. Stone wanted to start the Stop the Steal rallies,” the investigator said. “Who do you consider the leader of those rallies? It sounds like, from what you just said, it was Mr. Stone, Mr. Jones and Mr. Ali Alexander. Is that correct?”

“Those are the ones that became like the center point for everything,” SoRelle responded.

Alex Jones could not be reached for comment for this story.

Through his show on the InfoWars platform, Jones provided a venue for two of the most inspirational figures involved in rallying Trump’s supporters — Stone and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn. But Jones also leveraged his celebrity and following to do his own part in mobilizing Trump’s supporters, and in spreading wild and unfounded claims about election fraud.

In a letter to Jones accompanying a subpoena compelling him to testify and turn over records, the committee took note of a Dec. 20, 2020 broadcast of “The Alex Jones Show,” one day after Trump issued a tweet summoning his supporters to DC for a “wild” rally on Jan. 6.

“He’s calling on you now,” Jones told his audience. “He needs your help. We need your help. America needs to stand up.” Jones said he wanted to see 10 million people in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, adding, “We’re going to descend on the swamp January 6th. The president is going to be attending the rallies. He’s announcing he’s going to be there. This is going to be massive.”

On Dec. 29, Jones homed in on an objective for the Jan. 6 rally, scheduled to coincide with Congress’ session to certify the electoral votes.

“Well, let’s just say you’re going to want to go to DC on the 6th,” Jones said. “It will show the globalists we know Trump really won. And it will begin the process one way or another of removing the globalist puppet Joe Biden. And I mean by impeachment or keeping him from getting in on the 20th.”

Filling in for Jones on New Year’s Eve, guest host Matt Bracken added tactical specificity to the mission.

“We’re only going to be saved by millions of Americans by moving to Washington, occupying the entire area, if necessary, storming right into the Capitol,” Bracken said. “We know the rules of engagement. If you have enough people, you can push down any kind of fence or a wall.”

Amplifying the false claims of election fraud during an InfoWars broadcast on Christmas day, Jones offered his audience a fantastical and nightmarish description of the election that was unsupported by any evidence.

“They close everything out, kick everyone out, pull out briefcases,” he said. “Chinese men and vans come in in Michigan and start just shoving it in the machine. We get the footage showing it all. They’re death-threating witnesses. They’re arresting witnesses.”

Weeks before the 2020 election was held, Stone appeared as a guest on Jones’ show on Sept. 10, 2020. There, Stone previewed an election-fraud narrative and called for martial law that would become familiar during the interregnum between the election and Jan. 6.

“The ballots on election night in Nevada should be seized by federal marshals and taken from the state,” Stone said. “They are completely corrupted. No votes should be counted from the state of Nevada if it turns out to be the provable case. We can prove voter fraud in the absentees right now. Send federal marshals to the Clark County Board of Elections, Mr. President. It’s all there.”

Prompted by Jones’ insistence that “it’s clear they think they can steal it,” Stone recommended that Trump appoint a special counsel “with a specific task of forming an election-day operation using the FBI, federal marshals and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections and, if necessary, physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”

On the eve of the attack on the Capitol, Stone interviewed Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor, at the Willard hotel.

Declaring that “there’s a DNA in the American psyche” that “goes all the way back to 1776” — referring to the Revolutionary War — Flynn reeled off a string of baseless claims of election fraud.

“Everybody in this country, everybody in the world knows that this election on the third of November was a total rip-off,” Flynn said. “It was a fraudulent election. We have had foreign interference from multiple countries — I’ll rattle ’em off if you want to get into that — and Donald Trump was the clear winner. For the next four days after the third of November — from about the 4th through the 7th, 8th of November — they just started stuffing the ballot boxes. And everybody knows it, and they got caught.”

The January 6th Committee has also signaled its awareness of Jones’ involvement in organizing the rallies surrounding the mobilization on Jan. 6. Citing press reports and Jones’ own statements, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the committee chairman, mentioned in his public letter that Jones worked with two women, Cindy Chafian and Caroline Wren to organize the Jan. 6 rally at the Ellipse, and helped line up a funder, Publix heiress Julie Fancelli, to cover “eighty percent” of the cost.

Jones reportedly said after his testimony earlier this year that the January 6th Committee has already obtained text messages between him and Wren, a former campaign fundraiser who Jones identified as his “White House connection.”

Through Jones’ testimony in January, the committee also confirmed that Jones was on at least familiar terms with the leaders of the neo-fascist street brawling group the Proud Boys, who, like the Oath Keepers, face charges of seditious conspiracy. Jones disclosed that after a rally at the Georgia state capitol in Atlanta in November 2020, he saw Proud Boys at Hooters who were “drinking beer and ate cheeseburgers.” A photo posted on Telegram by Jeremy Bertino, a high-profile Proud Boy who has not been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, shows Jones seated between Bertino and national chairman Enrique Tarrio.

While Jones has so far avoided criminal charges for his role in the events of Jan. 6, two InfoWars personnel — host Owen Shroyer and correspondent Samuel Montoya — have been arrested. Shroyer is charged with knowingly entering or remaining on restricted grounds and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, while Montoya is charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building and disorderly and disruptive conduct, among other offenses.

Erika Wulff Jones, Alex Jones’ wife, went to the Capitol separately from her husband on Jan. 6, riding on the back of a golf cart with Cindy Chafian.

Alex Jones traveled with another contingent to the Capitol, as the January 6th Committee noted in its letter to him. Jones has said that the “White House” told him that after the rally at the Ellipse ended, he was tasked to lead a march to the Capitol where Trump would meet them. While Trump never made it, Jones, Shroyer and Ali Alexander marched to the Capitol.

“Go to the other side of the Capitol,” Jones said, leading the marchers to the east side of the Capitol. “That’s where Trump’s going to be.”

Marine Corps veteran founder of neo-Nazi terror group negotiating a plea deal

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The founder of a neo-Nazi terror network comprised of former military service members who sought to create a base in Idaho appears to be talking to federal prosecutors about a potential plea deal.

Posting on Iron March — a now-defunct global online forum for accelerationist neo-Nazis — in 2017, Liam Montgomery Collins wrote, “I live in the Northeast, so I have a tightknit crew of ex-mil and security I train with. We do hikes, gym sessions, live firing exercises, and we eventually plan to buy a lot of land. Can’t really specify the name or details because it’s an inner-circle thing, but it will serve its purpose when the time comes.

“Think of it as a modern-day SS,” Collins added, referencing the elite corps of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler.

It was through Iron March that Collins met Paul James Kryscuk, an actor who specialized in a subgenre of pornography that is degrading to women of color and helped him build the terror network that they called “BSN.”

Collins entered the Marine Corps in August 2017 and recruited fellow Marine Jordan Duncan and Justin Wade Hermanson while stationed at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.

In 2020, Kyrscuk relocated from New York City to Boise, Idaho. Members of the network stalked Black Lives Matter members in Boise and held a live-fire training that attracted Joseph Maurino, an enlisted member of the New Jersey Army National Guard. Another member, Joseph Zacharek, joined the Lafayette, Ind. Police Department as a probationary recruit in the summer of 2020, and remained employed there for four months until he was doxed by an antifascist researcher and was fired.

In an Instagram chat on Oct. 1, 2020, Kryscuk and Duncan fantasized about shooting protesters in Boise, according to a federal indictment.

Duncan: “How the BSNs finna be pulling up to chipotle after hitting legs.”

Kryscuk: “Death squad…. Assassins creed hoodies and suppressed 22 pistols.”

Duncan: “People freaking tf out.”

Kryscuck: “About what?”

Duncan: “The end of democracy.”

Kryscuk: “One can hope.”

When the FBI raided Kryscuk’s home in Boise in October 2020, they found a list of assassination targets that included Black Lives Matter founders Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, and a list of intersections that were consistent with power stations. The investigation revealed a plot to attack the power grid to create a blackout before undertaking an assassination campaign. A fourth Marine who joined BSN after serving in the same unit as Collins and Hermanson began cooperating with the authorities in October 2020, along with Zacharek, the former police officer, according to testimony by Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Chris Little.

Kryscuk and Collins were initially charged with conspiracy to illegally manufacture and transport firearms in October 2020. A superseding indictment the following month added Duncan and Hermanson as defendants. A second superseding indictment filed in June 2021 added Maurino as the fifth defendant. And in August 2021, a third superseding indictment expanded the charges to include conspiracy to destroy an energy facility.

Kryscuk and Hermanson accepted plea deals earlier this year that include agreements to cooperate with the government’s investigation and testify against their codefendants. In return for their cooperation, the two men could receive reductions from expected prison sentences of up to 15 years.

Collins was previously scheduled to be arraigned in the Eastern District of North Carolina on Sept. 6, but last week Chief District Judge Richard E. Myers agreed to push back the date to Nov. 1. The new date gives Collins and the government time to work out a deal.

In a motion filed on July 27, Collins' lawyer, Elliot S. Abrams, wrote, “Undersigned counsel has been in discussions with the government about a potential resolution of this matter. These discussions have been fruitful and undersigned counsel requests this additional time to continue discussions with the government regarding non-trial disposition.”

Duncan and Maurino, the two remaining defendants, are both currently scheduled to be arraigned in Wilmington on Sept. 20.

Kryscuk’s sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 20 in Wilmington, while Hermanson’s sentencing is set for the Sept. 22 term.

Inside the secret campaign to distance a former Trump NSA official from Michael Flynn's security team

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story identified Mr. Penrose as a Trump administration official. However, records show he left the NSA in 2014. Raw Story regrets the error. This story has also been updated to remove statements by Andrew Kloster that he says were recorded without his consent, at his request.

In late 2020, Lt. General Michael Flynn sent a security team to the home of Staci Burk, an Arizona law student. The team leader asked Burk to prepare an affidavit with information about ballots on planes that could be used to support lawsuits filed by attorney Sidney Powell to overturn the 2020 election.

Members of the security team, part of a group called 1st Amendment Praetorian, took Burk’s cell phone against her will. She later learned that it turned up in Washington, DC a couple of days before Trump supporters overran the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Burk herself was not in DC in December 2020 and January 2021. She said in a court filing in February 2021 that she learned on Jan. 11 that her phone was at the Willard Hotel, which has been described as a “command center” of the effort to overturn the 2020 election.

The 1st Amendment Praetorian security team’s seven-week residency at Burk’s home upended her life. Burk fled her home, incurred financial debt, reassessed her beliefs about the election and struggled to repair her reputation as various conspiracy theorists in the election denial world assailed her credibility.

Burk’s ordeal with 1st Amendment Praetorian — better known by its initials 1AP — pulled her into the orbit of a dizzying array of pro-Trump actors, including Arizona politicians, conspiracy theorists and associates of Flynn and Powell.

In January 2022, almost one year after her cell phone was confiscated, a lawyer who served in the Trump White House Office of Presidential Personnel named Andrew Kloster reached out to Burk with an unusual request. He wanted a written statement from her disassociating a former National Security Agency official and Flynn associate from 1AP.

The request came just as the investigation of the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol was causing increasing unease among allies of the former president.

Kloster told Burk he was representing former NSA official Jim Penrose during the phone call earlier this year, which Raw Story is reporting for the first time. Kloster also indicated he was familiar with the former president’s interest in the widening congressional probe.

Described in his Federalist Society bio as “a longtime fixture of the conservative movement” who had worked at the Heritage Foundation, Kloster joined the Trump White House Office of Presidential Personnel in 2020. After Trump left office, Kloster served as chief of staff for a special counsel appointed by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to investigate the outcome of the 2020 election in Wisconsin.

“Well, yes,” Kloster told Burk during the January 2022 phone call, explaining why Penrose was concerned. “Yes. Because — because I think a lot of what’s happening now — again, having talked with different attorneys and people who were swept up in this whole mess — a lot of this now is groups like 1AP, other people, who, maybe they’re not totally bad but they’re self-interested. There are circles that are close to the president, and then further out, blah blah blah, and everybody starts shooting at each other, and then they try to blame people for things. And the more of that can be limited by the truth, the better because it limits the ability of these little s***head staffers to do a fishing expedition.”
Burk did not accede to Kloster’s request because she told him that would be a lie, and she said he did not contact her again.

Emails to the January 6th Committee for this story seeking clarification on whether Penrose is under scrutiny went unreturned.

According to a professional biography, Jim Penrose retired from the NSA as a senior-level defense intelligence analyst in 2014. Lin Wood, the defamation lawyer who collaborated with Powell to file election challenge lawsuits, has confirmed that Penrose joined Powell and Flynn at his South Carolina estate in November 2020 to work on the election, along with Seth Keshel, a former Army intelligence captain, and Doug Logan, the CEO of Cyber Ninjas who would later lead the partisan review of the Arizona election.

Raw Story initially contacted Staci Burk in August 2021. She has continually expressed reluctance about going on the record due to her concern about ongoing threats from associates of Michael Flynn, including 1AP member Michael Kenny. She said she decided to give Raw Story access to the recording now because she feels the public has a right to know about matters important to democracy.

Robert Patrick Lewis, the 1AP cofounder, received a subpoena from the January 6th Committee in November 2021, requesting that he appear for a deposition and turn over documents. Lewis’ lawyer, Leslie McAdoo Gordon, has since indicated that Philip Luelsdorff, the other cofounder, and the organization itself have also been subpoenaed. Lewis appeared before the committee in April and invoked the Fifth Amendment, on his lawyer’s advice.

Citing a ruling by a federal judge in California that gave credence to an assertion made by the committee that President Trump participated in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election, McAdoo Gordon said in a letter to the committee that the committee’s position puts pressure on the US Department of Justice to pursue charges.

“Thus, the committee’s theory creates a genuine risk of criminal exposure for anyone who may have, in the opinion of motivated prosecutors, assisted former President Trump or his supporters in any way as they contested the election results between November 2020 and January 6, 2021,” McAdoo Gordon wrote.

In an addendum provided to the committee in July, McAdoo Gordon confirmed that Joshua James, who has pleaded guilty to seditious conspiracy, was “a member of 1AP for a very short time in 2020.” James was charged as part of a conspiracy with other members of the Oath Keepers militia. McAdoo Gordon told the committee that James left 1AP after being advised he could not simultaneously be in the Oath Keepers and 1AP. She added that James was not a member of 1AP in January 2021 and has had no association with the group since that time.

‘This had the potential of blowing up all over the place’

Based on his conversations with Jim Penrose, Andrew Kloster told Burk he understood his client’s relationship with 1st Amendment Praetorian to be minimal.

“I talk with a lot of the people who were involved with different things, and I think — as far as I’m aware — as far as Jim has told me — I mean, his involvement is quite technical, was quite technical,” Kloster said. “So, he might have puffed himself up. It sounds like there are other circumstances where he puffed himself up that bit him in the ass, and maybe that’s what happened here. But I don’t think he’s as super connected — he knows a lot of people, don’t get me wrong — but he’s not as much of a mover and shaker as you might suppose.”

As previously reported by ProPublica, Penrose told Burk during a phone call in late December 2020 that he had spent $75,000 to pay former FBI agents to look into two separate allegations about potentially illegal ballots delivered by plane in Phoenix and Seattle.

“Let me be crystal clear: I’m investigating this on behalf of Sidney Powell and Lin Wood, right, the people that are going to take this right up to the president and the Supreme Court and work on these cases,” Penrose told Burk during that call.

The call, which Burk recorded, took place on Christmas day after she and a 1AP member named Brandon Pittman had returned from a local shooting range. According to an incident report by the Florence Police Department, Richard “Chi” Chichester, a former correctional officer from Massachusetts who was also a member of the 1AP security team, reported that two black SUVs had followed Burk home from the shooting range. The incident also prompted a phone call to Penrose.

The recording reveals that Penrose, who expressed concern about Burk independently investigating the two ballots-on-planes leads, set parameters and conditioned the 1AP security team’s continued presence at her home on her compliance.

“Here’s the deal: If we’re going to protect you, we need to have some kind of understanding about what the parameters are and the way you’re going to engage publicly and how you’re going to expose yourself to threats publicly,” Penrose said. “Because it’s all of us, right? We’re all in this together.”

Penrose added that anything Burk did — from picking up the phone to inviting someone into her home — was “impacting the guys in the room with you, and anybody who’s going to be assigned to your protective detail.”

Burk told Raw Story she turned over her recording of the phone call to the January 6th Committee in October 2021.

Raw Story reviewed more than 20 recordings — which Burk has not publicly shared — that provide a picture of how her cell phone was stolen and how it wound up at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, just before Jan. 6.

In recorded statements, Pittman and Chichester — the two 1AP members assigned as Burk’s protective detail at the time — have both admitted that her phone was stolen, while giving conflicting accounts of how it took place. In one of the recordings, Pittman told Burk that he learned that Chichester had her phone in Washington, DC.

Joe Flynn, Michael Flynn’s brother, corroborated the account in a phone call with Burk. When the matter was brought to his attention, Flynn indicated he turned to a man named Geoffrey Flohr for an explanation.

Flohr, whose nickname was “Yoda,” was a former Michigan State Police officer and former polygrapher with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Pittman described him as the “team leader,” and Chichester called him “the guy in charge.”

“Yoda told me that Chi took it out of your hands,” Flynn told Burk. “Or something like that. And when I heard that, I said, ‘What are these people doing taking somebody’s property without their permission?’”

The precise reason why Burk’s phone was stolen and who, if anyone, ordered it remains unclear. Regardless, responsibility for the misdeed ultimately fell to Flohr, who also served in Michael Flynn’s personal security detail for his speech in front of the Supreme Court during the Jericho March on Dec. 12, 2020.

Chichester told Burk he encountered Flohr at the Willard hotel after Burk’s phone surfaced in DC.

“He just tapped me on the shoulder, didn’t say a f***ing thing, okay?” Chichester recounted. “And I was just watching him as he came past, all right? I was angry. I probably showed a little bit of anger in my face or something because I was pissed off at him because of the whole clusterf***…. Because of the whole thing — the stealing — the phone being stolen. The way he did things, it was just all f***ed up, and he was the guy in charge.”

James Curtis, a Marine Corps veteran who replaced Chichester on the 1AP protective detail at Burk’s house, also blamed Flohr.

“Seeing Yoda plan the theft of the phone — that by itself is problematic,” Curtis said. “But the timeline that sets this in motion and moves this off of you being a team player and to a target is knowing that on day one, they came asking for your phone.”

In a call with Burk, Flohr told her he was told “to be quiet” about the phone debacle “because this had the potential of blowing up all over the place. You literally hold — I’m telling you right now — you literally hold 1A Praetorian in your hand. That’s how it’s viewed. But I wanted the f***ing truth.”

Flohr said he reported the matter to Matthew Wallach, a prominent 1AP member.

“We want to do the f***ing right thing,” Flohr said. “And it’s all on my shoulders. So, listen up. It’s all on my shoulder. I went and told him forty-five seconds after f***ing numb nuts there right next to you told me what it was. I went and drilled it right into the people that run this place. And I said, ‘We got to fix this. We gotta f***ing fix this.’ And they said, ‘Well, we’re gonna take it under advisement, get through the DC op, and then address it.’”

Flohr ended his involvement with 1AP shortly after Jan. 6, 2021. After the phone debacle, Pittman told Burk that Flohr’s departure was directly linked to the handling of her security detail.

“Because of the issues that we had with you, and the way that they were handled was a bunch of bulls***, and Yoda was the guy that was like, ‘This is a bunch of bulls***,’” Pittman told Burk. “And so, Yoda, like, shields me from a lot of flak, because I tell Yoda, and Yoda tells the bosses. The bosses hit back at Yoda, and then Yoda hits back at me, you know?”

As previously reported by Raw Story, Flohr was on the grounds at the US Capitol, along with a second 1AP member named Alan Kielan.

Leslie McAdoo Gordon, 1AP’s lawyer, said in a statement provided to the January 6th Committee in early July that she learned following Robert Patrick Lewis’s deposition that “two members of 1AP went with or followed the portion of the crowd from the Ellipse that went to the Capitol grounds.” McAdoo Gordon minimized Flohr and Kielan’s connection to the organization, writing, “They had already completed their work with 1AP at that time.” She added that the two men went to the Capitol “without the knowledge or approval of 1AP or Mr. Lewis.”

Flohr could not be reached for comment for this story.

After Burk’s phone was stolen, James Curtis made a prediction that, in hindsight, seems prescient. He also entertained the possibility that Penrose bore some responsibility for the theft.

“I don’t know Penrose, but if he’s self-serving enough to take your phone, he’s also self-serving enough to help fabricate tales about you that aren’t true,” Curtis said. “But right now, your actions are being defined probably — I’m making some assumptions here — your actions are being defined by whoever it was that wanted your phone. And so, your actions are not going to be defined in a way complimentary to you or the truth you understand, right? They’re going to be defined in ways that benefit whoever took your phone — presumably Penrose, right?”

When Kloster called Burk nearly a year later, she told him that's almost exactly what ended up happening.

“He pushes this out there: ‘She’s crazy, she’s this, she’s that,’" Burk said of Penrose. "And tries to discredit and do all of this stuff, which leads all of those minions who thought they were saving the country and all of that to then chase me out of town and dox and harass and threaten."

Penrose could not be reached for this story.

Reached by Raw Story by phone, Joe Flynn said he doesn’t know why Burk’s phone was stolen, but indicated he was surprised to hear Penrose’s name come up in connection with the episode.

“It was inconsequential,” Flynn said during a brief interview. “It doesn’t mean much to anybody.”

Joe Flynn has acknowledged his role in assigning the 1AP security team to Burk’s home.

“At the time we were working with 1st — 1A Praetorians,” Flynn said in an interview for the QAnon-aligned Patriot Voice channel on Telegram in January. “We were working with them for a very short period of time, just after the election when we were participating in the rallies in Washington. And their team provided General Flynn, myself, Sidney, Patrick [Byrne] and a few others security…. By the way, they provided that security free of charge. At the time, we didn’t have any money, so that was a benefit not having to pay that money. As I understand it, we sent a team out to watch over her out in Phoenix.”

Joe Flynn talks about 1st Amendment Praetorian and Staci Burk on the Patriot Voice channel on Telegram.

Joe Flynn told Raw Story that his brother “didn’t have anything to do” with the decision to assign a security team to Burk, but Flohr gave a different account to Burk.

“It started with Joe,” he told Burk. “I got a call from him. He goes, ‘And we need ya in the Southwest.’ I said, ‘Okay.’ He says, ‘Hold on.’ And then Mike comes on the phone. He says, ‘Yoda, this is Mike Flynn. I need you to get to the Southwest for a whistleblower that we have down there. How long is it going to take you to get there?’ I said, ‘I haven’t been out to Arizona before.’ I said, ‘It’s going to take me a day and a half.’ He says, ‘Get going.’ And so, I did, because I had to pack my car. Two and a half hours later, I was on the road.”

Before 1AP’s arrival, a man named John Shattuck, who is linked to Michael Flynn through the Gold Institute for International Strategy, arranged for a local firm in Arizona called Mayhem Security Solutions to provide security for Burk.

Joe Flynn later explained to Burk that Mayhem was replaced because their fee was too expensive.

“We couldn’t afford it,” Flynn told Burk. “We weren’t going to be able to pay them. They wanted us to pay them thirty thousand dollars. We don’t have that kind of money. So, we said, ‘Okay, we got this other group who can do it for free.’”

‘If there’s going to be a second Trump term…’

Burk, who has since concluded there is no evidence of widespread election fraud, looked into two separate allegations about potentially illegal ballots on planes shortly after the Nov. 3, 2020 election. She said that Geoffrey Flohr, the team leader for the 1st Amendment Praetorian security detail at her house asked her to prepare an affidavit for Powell. Burk said assertions about extensive fraud by Powell and Michael Flynn helped convince her there must be something to the allegations of ballots on planes, which Powell herself mentioned in a speech at a Dec. 2, 2020 rally in Alpharetta, Ga.

“I listened to General Flynn and Sidney Powell say they had reliable evidence there were bad actors rigging the election and their team validated there was a great deal of corroborating evidence it was true and that I was in grave danger of being killed and needed a security team,” Burk said in a statement to Raw Story.

“Those were obviously lies,” Burk continued. “I believed the lies because, at the time, I thought, why else would they be taking the South Korean plane story so seriously when it was their associates who were on the ground with the plane taking video. I now see in their psyop I was a pawn, and it was much easier to raise money if they terrorized the witnesses and then said they needed money to protect the witnesses. I was just a pawn in their elaborate money-making venture,” Burk added.

Burk claims that in late December 2020, she had not been aware of a Dec. 18 meeting that took place at the White House in which Flynn, Powell and Byrne urged President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and order the National Guard to seize voting machines.

“It was my understanding Trump had a plan, and I trusted that,” Burk said. “As things came to light, I now see everything their associates did with me between November 2020 and May 2021 was all gaslighting, cover up and narrative control with an ends-justifying-the-means mentality and little care or concern for how their actions terrified my family and disrupted our lives.”

Joe Flynn said in a text to Raw Story that his brother was not interested in responding.

“This is a story about nonsense and nothing,” he said, “and anyone who reads Raw Story needs to get a mental exam.”

Sydney Powell could not be reached for this story.

Despite describing Penrose as a “contractor” during the period he engaged with 1AP, Kloster also suggested to Burk that his client’s relationship with Michael Flynn was insignificant.

“He knew General Flynn,” Kloster said. “He knew who he was. They had some communication. There was no hand in glove. He didn’t report to him, or vice-versa.”

Kloster also dismissed the notion that Penrose was working on behalf of President Trump, telling Burk: “I’m a little bit closer to some of that stuff. I kind of know — yeah, that’s a little bit, uh, that’s on the order of puffing up, for sure, yeah.”

Kloster did not return messages for this story. But in a post on Telegram in early July, he announced a new project to protect the professional reputations of so-called “America First” public servants.

“We’re just getting started, but if you’re looking to assist in giving our conservative public servants the tools they need to survive attack, pls look at this new org run by our former WH staff,” Kloster wrote.

The website for Personnel Policy Operations describes the new nonprofit’s foundational precept as a belief that conservative public servants targeted for “persecution” by “the radical left, corporate media, tech companies, leftwing NGOs and other activists” need support in order to succeed, while warning that without a robust safety net, “others will be deterred from entering public service in the first place, or from taking real action for their country.”

Kloster recently spoke up in defense of Kenneth Klukowski, a former senior counsel to Trump Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark. Kuklowski reportedly helped Clark draft a letter to state officials in Georgia in late December 2020 requesting that they delay certifying their votes to allow time for federal prosecutors to investigate election fraud allegations.

“The January 6th investigation is all about attacking mid-level and senior staff like Ken, to ensure that we don’t have a farm team in 2024, no matter who the president is,” Kloster told The Federalist last month. “This isn’t about the truth, but about making it impossible for conservatives to successfully enter and leave government.”

In a recent Axios report, Kloster was named as part of a group of “former Trump administration and transition officials working on personnel, legal or policy projects for a potential 2025 government.”

Jack Posobiec, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a political operative who is “known primarily for creating and amplifying viral disinformation campaigns,” praised Kloster’s Personnel Policy Operation while filling in as a host on the “War Room” show for former White House strategist Steve Bannon on July 1. (Bannon was convicted of contempt of Congress on July 22 for refusing to cooperate with the January 6th Committee.)

“We’ve got the precinct project that’s going on here from the War Room,” Posobiec told Kloster. “That’s precinct by precinct across the country. We’ve got the dismantling of the administrative state. That’s the other project. But what you just said, I think, is one of the most important lessons, shall we say, from the first Trump term, which is that personnel is policy.

“If there is going to be a second Trump term — and that’s basically been kind of the theme of this show today — that this key office, the PPO and the staffers across the government, right, getting into the administrative state and wrestling down with Leviathan.

”During his January 2022 phone call with Staci Burk, Kloster indicated that Jim Penrose was eager to put time assisting in the effort to challenge the election behind him.

“I mean, Jim, he’s in a different place now,” Kloster told Burk. “He does talk about a lot of that election stuff as — he had a weird second life basically for a couple months. But he seems very buttoned down now.”

January 6th witness Garrett Ziegler livestreams white nationalist grievances after contentious hearing

After invoking the Fifth Amendment and executive privilege more than 100 times to refuse to answer questions from the January 6th Committee on Tuesday, former White House aide Garrett Ziegler opened a livestream to vent his frustrations to his followers in a nearly 30-minute rant laden with white nationalist grievance on Telegram.

Ziegler complained that he has less resources to fight the committee than his older cohorts, including his boss former Trade Advisor Peter Navarro, who is suing the committee, and former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who is being prosecuted for contempt.

“They can pay their attorneys to go to trial,” Ziegler said. “I had to be very smart and circumspect. My goal was to avoid a contempt of Congress charge…. It’s going to be very, very hard for them to pass a contempt of Congress charge on me when I’ve given them documents, and I flew out to DC and sat in front of them. If they have a problem with me, they have a problem with the f***ing Fifth Amendment.

Citing his decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination, Ziegler portrayed himself as a victim of left-wing persecution.

“They’re Bolsheviks so they probably do hate the Fifth Amendment, and most white people in general,” he said. “This is a Bolshevist, anti-white campaign…. They see me as a young Christian who they can basically try to scare.”

Ziegler, who reshares white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes’ content and has called Cambodia a “s***hole country” on his Telegram channel, quickly added: “I’m the least racist person that many of you have ever met, by the way. I have no bigotry. I just try to see the world for where it is.”

Then, his rant veered into misogyny when he lamented that no one else in his generation was defying the January 6th committee, because “the other people in the White House are total hos and thots.” He specifically named Cassidy Hutchinson, the former aide to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows whose bombshell testimony revealed that President Trump wanted to let supporters with guns into the rally at the Ellipse, and Alyssa Farah Griffin, the former White House director of strategic communications and assistant to the president who reportedly showed up to support Hutchinson when she testified.

Ziegler reported that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) logged in to the interview by teleconference, but ducked out when he realized he wasn’t going to learn any new information.

“It was a boring hour,” Ziegler said. "It was an awkward hour. I loathe these people.”

While spurning the committee, Ziegler provided additional detail about his role in facilitating a heated meeting at the White House on Dec. 18, 2020 in which attorney Sidney Powell, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and former CEO Patrick Byrne urged President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act and order the National Guard to seize ballots and re-run the election.

“What I did is I sent them a URL to a form to fill out to then they can request to the Secret Service to be admitted onto the property,” Ziegler said on Tuesday. “That’s exactly what I did. I did nothing more. I wasn’t even at the White House grounds when that meeting occurred. I had gone home because it was very late at night. I had no idea what they were discussing. I hoped that — my reason for sending the URL to the form was that somebody would advise the president to make a call to governors to get the National Guard to hand-count the paper ballots. I had no idea about the machines.”

Previously, Ziegler has told fellow election denier David K. Clements that he and Patrick Weaver, another White House aide in the National Security Council, worked together to let Powell, Flynn and Byrne into the White House.

“Basically, I had the visitor access,” Ziegler said. “And he went down and got General Flynn and Sidney Powell.”

Meet Garrett Ziegler: Today's top January 6th witness and key player in Donald Trump's election scheme

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Garrett Ziegler, a former aide to Trade Advisor Peter Navarro who acted as a key conduit between the Trump White House and the sprawling network of lawyers and conspiracy mongers promoting dubious election fraud theories in the final months of 2020, is expected to speak to the January 6th Committee on Tuesday morning.

Ziegler announced his interview in a message to his followers on Telegram at the stroke of midnight on Monday, writing, “Yours truly going before the scam committee on Tuesday morning. Such a joke, but don’t worry — I’ll do nothing but tell the truth: Trump did nothing wrong & the election was stolen!”

Fanatically loyal to Trump, Ziegler played a crucial role in facilitating an infamous late-night meeting in the Oval Office on Dec. 18, 2020 by using his access pass to usher lawyer Sidney Powell, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and former CEO Patrick Byrne into the White House, where they proposed a plan to have the president invoke the Insurrection Act while ordering the National Guard to seize voting machines and re-run the election in states narrowly lost to Joe Biden.

The meeting, which ran for four and a half hours, devolved into a screaming match between the Powell camp and White House lawyers led by Chief Counsel Pat Cipollone, with the two sides nearly coming to blows. At the end, Trump reportedly appointed Powell to the ill-defined position of special counsel, although nothing seems to have come of the action. Byrne, who reportedly spoke to the January 6th Committee on July 15, recently told the far-right outlet Epoch Times that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, told him he persuaded the president to reverse course by telling him that if they went forward with the plan “we’d all be in prison.”

Less than two hours after the raucous meeting broke up, Trump tweeted a call for his supporters to descend on Washington, DC on Jan. 6. Trump’s tweet included a link to the Navarro Report, which was prepared with Ziegler’s assistance. The president wrote, “Peter Navarro releases 36-page report alleging election fraud ‘more than sufficient’ to swing victory to Trump. A great report by Peter. Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Byrne’s preexisting relationships with Ziegler and another White House staffer, Patrick Weaver, allowed Powell and Flynn to circumvent Meadows as a gatekeeper to the Trump White House.

“I was the one who pulled together kind of this plan without really even letting Sidney or General Flynn know what might be at the end of it,” Byrne said at a press conference in February. “I’d gotten to know some staffers who had always been inviting — ‘Oh, you gotta come over to the White House sometime and let us give you a tour.’” Byrne said he called one of the aides — it's not clear whether it was Ziegler or Weaver — around 6:15 p.m. to arrange the visit.

Ziegler described the visit in a June 2021 interview with David K. Clements, a former New Mexico State University professor who has traveled around the country promoting the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen. Ziegler told Clements that he used his visitors pass to get Byrne, Powell and Flynn into the White House, but that Weaver was the one who actually let them into the building. Once Meadows and Cipollone discovered that it was his pass that had been used to get the trio into the White House, Ziegler said, his visitors' privileges were taken away.

It is not clear how Byrne initially met Ziegler and Weaver, but by the time of the Dec. 18 meeting, Ziegler for one had been enmeshed in a frantic hive of effort to overturn the election with Byrne near the center as a financial sponsor.

From Nov. 15 to Jan. 12, Ziegler told Clements, he and three other aides, including Joanna Miller, helped Navarro assemble the three-volume report, adding that he often spent six hours a day beyond his formal duties in the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy working on the election effort.

Ziegler made frequent trips across the Potomac River to the Westin Arlington Gateway during the period he was helping Navarro gather information for the report. Shortly after the election, Michael Trimarco, a New York City businessman and Giuliani associate, had rented a bloc of hotel rooms at the Westin, where he provided Powell with workspace, he told far-right podcaster Ann Vandersteel in an interview earlier this year. In mid-November 2020, Powell and Flynn relocated to Tomotley, the estate owned by attorney Lin Wood, to continue to work on lawsuits to challenge the election outcome in states that Trump had narrowly lost.

“We kept those same rooms, or I kept them, and had the team that didn’t go down there continue to work on election integrity, and they largely were working with Garrett Ziegler,” Trimarco told Vandersteel.

Among those pushing election-fraud conspiracy theories, some of which made it into the lawsuits, who variously described themselves as whistleblowers, journalists and analysts, were Terpsehore “Tore” Maras, Millie Weaver, Gavin Wince and Patrick Bergy.

Trimarco mentioned a handful of key figures, including former White House strategist Steve Bannon, as working in tandem in an interview earlier this year with Maras.

“I gotta say, the level-headedness of looking at this stuff, you know, by yourself, Patrick, Steve Bannon and Rudy was what really kept us on track,” Trimarco told Maras. “Because the funnel — the mouth of the funnel was huge. There was information coming in so fast and furious that it was impossible with the team we had to really vet through it all.”

Trimarco described a campaign running parallel to the lawsuits filed by Powell and Giuliani, which were all ultimately dismissed, to build pressure on lawmakers to set aside Biden electoral votes in the six battleground states, culminating on Jan. 6.

“When I was saying it to you and Millie back then, you were like, ‘Yeah, but it’s already under control,’” Trimarco recalled in his conversation with Maras. “And actually when I would say it to Steve, too, he would be like, ‘Look those guys aren’t going to do anything. These are a relic of the past elections. They’re just spineless and they’re not going to do much, if anything. But maybe if we kick it right to them, they have to make a decision because constituency politics will overwhelm them and they’ll maybe pay attention to the evidence that will have been presented on January 6th for the two hours of debate in each of these' — which was it — six states.”

A large portion of the information in the Navarro Report “came from this group of analysts that were working out of the Westin that did not go to Tomotley,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “Garrett was key. I mean, this guy — talk about people really working 24-7. He would come around at 11, midnight, 1, after he’s clearly done at the White House, to get information. I saw him come by one or two times. But he was working with a few key people on our team to get the information.”

Trimarco has described himself as the designated point person for relaying information between Powell’s team and Giuliani. While the Trump campaign, represented by Giuliani and Jenna Ellis, formally cut ties with Powell, in reality the two legal teams continued to coordinate. While Trimarco was vetting information for Giuliani, Byrne — associated more closely with Powell and Flynn — was regularly flying Trimarco back and forth between DC and Long Island so he could see his wife, who was pregnant. Meanwhile, Byrne has confirmed to Raw Story that he was paying for the hotel rooms at the Westin where Maras, Weaver, Wince and Bergy were staying.

With Trimarco preoccupied with his wife’s pregnancy and limited in his ability to fulfill his courier function, he said information from the researchers ensconced at the Westin often reached Trump before Giuliani knew about it.

“Ironically, a lot of the stuff that got back to Rudy didn’t end up coming through me,” Trimarco said. “Because once that connection was made, Garrett would give it to Peter, and Peter would give it to the president. And then it would circle back to Rudy.”

Ziegler noted in a Telegram post that the Navarro Report was heavily sourced “with hundreds of footnotes and affidavits,” and he boasted: “I still think I’m the only person in the USA with all the unredacted affidavits ha.”

In one instance, information gleaned from affidavits collected for the lawsuits was reportedly used in a report drafted by Ziegler’s White House colleague Joanna Miller, which was then forwarded to Giuliani for the purpose of pressuring state legislatures to reverse Biden’s win.

Entitled “Dominion Voting Systems: OVERVIEW 12/2/20 – History, Executives, Vote Manipulation Ability and Design, Foreign Ties,” the report drew on an anonymous declaration by a man described as “a former high-ranking Venezuelan military officer.” The affidavit was used in four lawsuits filed by Powell around the same time — between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2 — seeking to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona. Citing the affidavit, the report suggested that election software used in the 2020 US election was tied to vote-rigging in Venezuela.

In a defamation suit brought in November 2021, the election software company Smartmatic argued that Powell should have known the declarant wasn’t reliable because he claimed to have been present during discussions around February 2009 in which the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez “offered to pay Smartmatic to create or modify its voting system to rig elections,” and then to claim that he “closely observed” the same system rig votes three years earlier — a feat that “is clearly impossible absent the invention of time travel.”

The publicly available version of the Dominion report, which was first published in early December 2020 by the conservative outlet Gateway Pundit, named Katherine Friess, a volunteer on the Trump election legal team, as the author. The Guardian reported that the original version of the document named Miller as the author, but that her name was removed before it was sent to Giuliani on Nov. 29.

It is unclear whether Ziegler was directly involved in the production of the report, and he did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

One of Ziegler's claims directly reached the president, and was cited by Trump in his effort to enlist White House counsel in his campaign to cling to power.

“The young and earnest Garrett Ziegler rides to the sound of the guns in Nevada,” Navarro wrote in his book In Trump Time: A Journal of America’s Plague Year, recounting how Ziegler researched allegations of voter fraud immediately after the election. “He will soon find himself crisscrossing an Indian reservation investigating outrageously illegitimate bribes for Biden votes.”

As previously reported by Raw Story, although some election advocates such as Nevada Native Vote did offer free food, gift cards and raffle entries to voters, the giveaways were available to all voters, and not tied to support for any specific candidate.

“Then he went off on double voting,” former Acting Deputy Attorney General Richard Donoghue’s testified during a June 13 hearing of the January 6th Committee, as he recounted a meeting with President Trump. “‘Dead people are voting. Indians are getting paid to vote.’ He meant people on Native American reservations. He said, ‘There’s lots of fraud going on here.’ I told him flat-out that much of the information he’s getting is false and/or just not supported by the evidence. We look at the allegations, but they don’t pan out.”

'One loud voice!': Capitol riot preceded by months of mobilization by organizers linked to Michael Flynn

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One of the most crucial questions for both the FBI investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol and the House Select Committee inquiry is the connection between President Trump and the militant groups that carried out the attack.

The next hearing of the January 6th Committee, scheduled for July 12 and led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), reportedly “plans to detail known links and conversations between political actors close to Trump and extremists,” according to the New York Times.

While it is not clear what evidence the committee will present, a network of operatives surrounding retired Lt. General Michael Flynn — an inspirational figure for rank-and-file Trump supporters protesting the outcome of the election — helped build an infrastructure for months in advance that stoked anger, called on the president to invoke the Insurrection Act, and amplified his call to supporters to be in Washington for a “wild rally” on Jan. 6.

One of the initiatives that sprung up around Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor who was seeking a pardon after the US Department of Justice dismissed charges for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, was called Operation Voter Integrity.

Felisa Blazek, a New Hampshire-based event planner with ties to the QAnon community, outlined plans for the initiative in an interview with Tamara Leigh, a podcaster active in the campaign to vindicate Flynn, and Brent Hamachek, the executive editor of the right-wing publication Human Events. As Blazek described it, the project would deploy GOP activists to monitor polling places for voter fraud, with pro-Trump groups standing by to escalate complaints up through a network that she said would ultimately reach the White House.

Two of the groups mentioned by Blazek, Veterans for Trump and Bikers for Trump, would later show up at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Blazek described a phone tree in which one activist “would just call the head of your state for Bikers for Trump.” She continued: “One phone call. They dispatch 20 to 30 people to that precinct. Second phone call, you call in Veterans for Trump. They dispatch 20 to 30 people. They just show there and they just stand up, and they just let you know you’re not alone. The police will come. If the police don’t come, they’re all trained. We’re just standing by and letting you know that we know.”

Blazek could not be reached for comment for this story.

Two days after the election, Veterans for Trump co-founder Joshua Macias and an associate, Antonio LaMotta, were arrested on weapons charges outside the Philadelphia Convention Center, where election officials were tabulating votes. Local police made the arrests after receiving an FBI alert about a possible attempt to interfere with the vote count, according to the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office. The police reportedly recovered a semi-automatic AR-15-syle assault rifle, samurai sword and hundreds of firearms cartridges from the Hummer that the two men drove from Virginia.

Macias and LaMotta could not be reached for comment for this story.

At the time, some Democratic officials and voting rights groups condemned President Trump’s instruction to supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully,” saying it amounted to voter intimidation, and the Department of Homeland Security warned that polling places could be “flash points for potential violence.”

Both Macias and Blazek were avid supporters of Flynn.

Two years earlier, Macias had organized a rally to support Flynn outside the DC federal courthouse at the former general’s sentencing hearing, where he stood alongside Tamara Leigh, according to a report in Mother Jones. Chris Cox, the founder of Bikers for Trump, also attended the protest to support Flynn.

Blazek had recently organized a two-day QAnon-friendly gathering called the Patriot Party in Scottsdale, Ariz. that featured Barbara Redgate, Flynn’s sister.

During an interview to promote the event, Blazek had said, “We’re hoping to host General Flynn and his family as our honored guests. If they would choose to speak, that would be great. But really, we just want them to come there, and support them.” Blazek added that the Flynn family was like “the tip of the spear in our movement.”

David Sumrall, a Dallas-based organizer who founded the right-wing group Stop Hate, similarly extolled the Flynn family in an interview with Redgate to promote the Patriot Party.

“We want to make sure that General Flynn’s getting a message of support and love and encouragement because we have his back,” Sumrall said. “We understand what happened to him, and the whole fact that he’s willing to take one for the team.”

Soon after Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election, Blazek and Sumrall, alongside Ali Alexander and Tomi Collins, began organizing rallies across the country to protest the electoral outcome.

Pasquali “Pat” Scopelliti, a business coach based in Charlottesville, Va. and frequent contributor on the website, praised Blazek and Macias together in a post-election thread on Twitter. Referring to the two by their Twitter handles and using hashtags associated with Blazek’s election mobilization effort and a parallel campaign led by Alexander, Scopelliti tweeted: “Both @PatriotAssembly and @JoshuaMacias are on the Field of Fight, right now. I choose to support them, as should you./ #1LoudVoice/ #StopTheSteal.”

The following day, Scopelliti issued another Twitter thread, declaring that America was at “war,” with “voter fraud” being the “ultimate weapon,” while speculating that “$1,000 bottles of rice wine” were “being uncorked in Beijing.”

“There are three people I must mention,” Scopelliti continued, recognizing Sumrall, alongside Blazek and Macias. “They are: @HelpStopHate, @PatriotAssembly, @JoshuaMacias. These three patriots have known in their bones, the nature of this war. And they have joined forces to lead the ground game of its fight.”

Scopelliti attached a digital flier to the tweet with the heading “All 50 State Capitol Buildings, #1LoudVoice, Truth Rally, 12:00 PM across the nation.” The flier included URLs for nearly a dozen pro-Trump groups, including Sumrall’s Stop Hate; Blazek’s Patriot Party;; and Cowboys for Trump, led by Couy Griffin, who had attended the Patriot Party event in Scottsdale. Griffin would later be arrested for his role in the attack on the Capitol, and found guilty of entering and remaining in a restricted building.

Veterans for America First, the successor organization to Veterans for Trump, currently lists Scopelliti as its community engagement advisor on the organization’s website.

Despite being out on a $750,000 bail with pending firearms charges in Philadelphia, Macias and LaMotta traveled to Washington, DC in early January for a cluster of rallies culminating with President Trump’s speech at the Ellipse. Macias was present during a brief meeting between Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes in an underground parking garage on Jan. 5, the eve of the attack on the Capitol. Tarrio and Rhodes both face seditious conspiracy charges in separate cases related to the attack on the Capitol.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner noted the meeting during a press conference last month to announce a motion to have Macias held for contempt of court due to his actions at the Capitol.

“When people are planning a bank robbery, when they are planning a mob hit, they do not let uninvolved people come to that small private meeting,” Krasner said. “When people are planning serious crimes, the only people that are going to be there, especially when they’re trying to be secretive, are people that are seriously involved.”

Also present at the parking garage meeting were Kelly SoRelle, who now serves as general counsel for the Oath Keepers, and Latinos for Trump President Bianca Gracia.

On Jan. 6, Blazek, Macias, LaMotta, Rhodes, SoRelle, Gracia and members of a Bikers for Trump faction known as Boots on the Ground gathered at the MAGA Freedom Rally in front of the Russell Senate Office Building, a block away from the Capitol.

In an interview with Sumrall last fall, SoRelle said she went back to a hotel room to eat and get warm, while Rhodes went to the Capitol. Rhodes took up a position outside the Capitol, while more than a dozen Oath Keepers members outfitted in tactical gear pushed through the crowd in a stack and followed a mob into the building. SoRelle said in that interview in September that there was no plan to attack the Capitol. In January, Rhodes and 10 other members of the Oath Keepers were charged with seditious conspiracy — a charge that amounts to attempting to overthrow the government by force. Two of those charged have pleaded guilty.

“Stewart had guys that were protecting different speakers at different events, namely Ali Alexander, who was supposed to have been literally on the Capitol grounds,” SoRelle told Sumrall last September. “Then everybody’s like, ‘Well, we don’t know where everybody’s at. This is chaos. Like, what the heck?’ So, that’s why we ended up at the Capitol. We went down there just to see if we could locate his people. You know? And then next thing you take it straight to crazy la-la land, as in everybody’s the mastermind, and whatever.”

Sumrall, who used social media to raise money to take a “team” to Washington, DC, concurred with SoRelle’s account.

Sumrall said he told FBI agents: “Guys, listen: The plan was to get to DC. That’s where it stopped. That’s where it stopped. You’re never going to find anything where anybody says, ‘We’re going in the Capitol.’”

Sumrall’s voice can be heard in a video posted on Stop Hate’s Instagram account that was taken from the west side of the Capitol. The post is accompanied by a text comment from the account owner: “We’ve broken down the gates and made it onto the Capitol grounds.”

Another video on the Stop Hate Instagram account shows police in riot gear lined up on the inauguration review stand and the terrace facing rioters, with the caption, “#StormTheCapitol.”

Macias and LaMotta also went to the Capitol. Footage recently obtained by NBC News shows LaMotta inside the Capitol. He has not been arrested to date.

With LaMotta standing nearby, Macias addressed the crowd on the east side of the Capitol, according to video archived by the @capitolhunters Twitter account.

“Mike Pence is a Benedict Arnold,” Macias roared. “We believed in you, Vice President. We had hope that you would do what’s right for our Constitution. I stood with you onstage, sir. We believed in you.

“President Trump, you have the ability to pass — if you have the strength, sir — the Insurrection Act is now,” Macias continued. “You have the power, sir, and we support you 110 percent. Do what’s right, sir…. Defend the Constitution against foreign and domestic enemies. Those domestic enemies are here. If you’re not awake, America, be awoke. The enemy is not at the gates; the enemy is already here.”

Another person could be heard answering Macias with the QAnon slogan: “Where we go one, we go all!”

“That’s right!” Macias said. “One loud voice! We are one. We are united. I am Josh Macias, Vets for Trump. We will never quit.”

United by a hashtag: Inside the Christian nationalist organizers who mobilized Trump supporters for Jan. 6

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Six months before the 2020 election, Tomi Collins, a Christian right organizer from North Dakota, issued a demand on Twitter for the execution of political enemies in the federal government bureaucracy — citing an array of imagined offenses, including the QAnon hoax that progressive elites are harvesting children’s blood.

“#WeThe people demand incitements [sic] for #SpyGate #PizzaGate #UraniumOne #Adrenochrome,” she wrote. “#DeepState will be exposed and hung for treason. Even if we have to do it ourselves! #CoordinationMatters.”

Collins closed her digital call to arms with two more hashtags: #PatriotsMobilize and #1LoudVoice.

Collins serves as executive director of a little-known Christian right outfit called America Restored. Collins has described America Restored, which is organized as a private corporation, as a vehicle for providing strategic consulting and funding to grassroots organizers.

As early as January 2018, less than a year into the Trump administration, Collins was warning followers on Facebook Live about “voter machine fraud,” and foreign election interference, while specifically referencing Dominion Voting Systems. Her description of a plan “to cheat” in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections uncannily anticipated public claims by Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell that have prompted a defamation lawsuit against the two attorneys who litigated President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Collins’ role as a key, if overlooked, organizer in the sprawling network of operatives and influencers highlights the role of Christian nationalism in a movement that remains committed to overturning the 2020 election and vanquishing political opposition. Many of the tenets of a hyper-partisan version of Christianity — entwined with syncretic strains of the QAnon cult — were voiced by the far-right organizers who galvanized defiance of the 2020 election results, including some who attacked the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The mission statement for America Restored, prominently displayed on its website’s landing page, clearly describes the work of the organization led by Collins: “America Restored is ‘We The People’ building a powerful, action-driven infrastructure by organizing and mobilizing existing, effective patriot groups and freedom-loving Americans in all major areas of influence: Education, Family, Faith, Business, Government, Entertainment and Media.”

The mission statement ends with a pledge that inaccurately conflates the organization’s vision of a Christian theocracy with an originalist view of the country: “We The People will see America restored to our founders’ original intent.”

America Restored’s mission statement explicitly references Seven Mountains dominionism, a far-right Christian ideology that emerged in the mid-1970s. It holds that Christians are called on by God to dominate all realms of civil society, including government.

Katherine Stewart, author of the 2020 book The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, described Seven Mountains dominionism in an email to Raw Story as “the conviction that Christians of a certain hyper-conservative variety are called by God to dominate the main peaks of modern civilization in the United States and, ultimately, the world.”

C. Peter Wagner, one of the ideology’s key proponents, preached that Christians’ responsibility for taking over “whatever molder of culture or subdivision God has placed them in” is a matter of “taking dominion back from Satan,” according to Stewart.

America Restored’s grafting of Seven Mountains dominionism ideology onto a claim of restoring the original republic represents a fundamental misreading of the founders’ intent, Stewart told Raw Story. Stewart cited appeals to reason and deistic or atheistic philosophy as underpinning the thinking of founders such as Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and Benjamin Franklin. But even more important than what the founders thought, she said, is the question of what kind of government they established.

“Was it a government that derives its legitimacy from its appeal to Christian revelation, or from its endorsement by Christian ecclesiastical authorities?” Stewart wrote. “The answer to that is no. America’s founders established the world’s first large-scale modern secular republic.”

Four days after the 2020 election, Collins spoke at a “Stand With Trump Rally” at the North Dakota state capitol in Bismarck. Collins told the crowd she had been contacted by the Trump campaign’s legal team and had attended “meetings with intelligence folks.” Raw Story has not been able to verify these claims independently.

“It’s an amazing day when you get to stand and go from a conspiracy theorist to getting called up by the campaign and attorneys all over the country saying, ‘What about those voting machines? What’s going on in them?’” Collins said. “Hey, let’s go. We’ve got some lawsuits to do.”

Collins went on to describe a plan to “mobilize all 50 states” for rallies that would augment the lawsuits with continuous public pressure to overturn the election results.

“We worked in conjunction with Stop the Steal to get folks at capitols in every single state in the union so we the people could be heard,” Collins later recalled in an interview for a far-right podcast, referencing the coalition led by Ali Alexander.

Felisa Blazek, a New Hampshire-based event planner, described a markedly similar effort.

“I had started the 50-state rallies with — actually ahead of Ali,” Blazek told an interviewer the following summer. “And Ali, having all of his width and breadth of followers — although he’s gone into hiding — God used him in that way, right? God used Cain and God used Abel. He sends out someone who has a much bigger presence on social media than myself. God’s calling for me was to be a base cheerleader, not a main player. So, we’re doing these 50-state rallies at all the capitols every Saturday after the steal of the November election.”

It is unclear whether Collins and Blazek worked together on the effort to mobilize Trump supporters for the rallies, and neither woman responded to repeated requests for interviews. But language used by the two women in interviews to promote their projects and on websites for their respective organizations — including the #1LoudVoice hashtag and Seven Mountains dominionism ideology — bear striking similarities.

The #1LoudVoice hashtag was used in Collins’ social media beginning in May 2020 and has also been prominently displayed on the America Restored website. Meanwhile, a tab on the website, which promotes events organized by Blazek, includes the heading “Our Mission: #1LoudVoice.” The mission statement includes a “call to action,” declaring it is “time to rise up in unity, go into the harvest and take our country back.” The statement continues: “We are assembling to organizing and mobilizing [sic] existing Patriots groups [sic] in all major areas of influence by a national digital communication platform and network influencing all seven (7) spheres of influence: Education, Family, Faith, Business, Government, Entertainment, Media.”

The page includes a link to a separate site listing “coalition members,” including Virginia Freedom Keepers and Latinos for Trump, two of the groups that hosted a MAGA Freedom Rally one block from the US Capitol on Jan. 6; and 1st Amendment Praetorian, a security group associated with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn that provided personal security details for speakers at several rallies and assisted attorney Sidney Powell with research on purported election fraud.

And although it is unclear what role, if any, Blazek had in organizing the Dec. 12, 2020 Jericho March that helped build momentum for Jan. 6, a photo gallery is displayed under the “Events” tab on the website, with images of Flynn, InfoWars host Alex Jones, and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.

Using Seven Mountains dominionism language in an interview to promote a two-day Patriot Party event at the Scottsdale Plaza Resort in Arizona two weeks before the 2020 election, Blazek avoided any mention of Christianity while highlighting defiance of mask mandates during the COVID pandemic.

“The seven spheres of influence to me and what I am trying to rally around are organizing people in education, family, faith, business, government, entertainment and media,” she said. “Underneath all of those are health and medical because health and medical touch each one of those. It doesn’t get its own sphere; it’s that magical bridge.”

Blazek had hoped to secure a special appearance by Flynn and his family, whom she described as “the tip of the spear in our movement,” for the gathering, but had to settle for his sister, Barbara Redgate. Other guests included Cowboys for Trump, led by Otero County, NM County Commissioner Couy Griffin.

Folded into the Patriot Party, the Q Con Live! gathering organized by Chris Jacobson commandeered a conference room at the Arizona resort.

Blazek described her radicalization during a joint appearance with Jacobson on a QAnon podcast in June 2020. She said the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon provided an initial jolt, but in early 2020 she said a friend prodded her to look into a conspiracy theory associated with the Sovereign Citizen movement that posits that the British crown holds the originals of American birth certificates. That led her to research the Federal Reserve, she said, prompting a weekslong quest to sources that predate Christ, until, Blazek said, she “worked my way back up to the heart of the issue, and landed with the corruption of the Deep State and how everything’s really been a lie.”

While promoting QAnon, Jacobson expressed a more conventional view of religious nationalism in response to a question about the role of religious leaders in the United States’ civic life.

“And we need to get back to being one nation under God, so that He will continue to bless us,” Jacobson said. “Our founding fathers all, whether they were Christian or not, they understood and said that if we don’t have a higher power — in other words, God — that this whole experiment, this United States of America, would fail.”

Blazek, in turn, affirmed a “spiritual, but not religious” outlook, and expressed a QAnon slogan as a central tenet of her faith.

“I really feel like our statement, ‘Where we go one, we go all,’ represents the true God,” she said. “The true and one God — our God.”

During the Q Con Live! conference, Alan Hostetter, an anti-lockdown activist from southern California, told attendees: “We are at war right now…. Nobody wants violence. We are conditioned from the time we are children to always think violence is a horrible, horrible thing, until we go back and reflect on the Revolutionary War. They picked up guns at some point, and said, ‘Enough!’”

Hostetter would later recall in a court filing that when he sat down after his speech, he noticed a man dressed in headgear and horns carrying a sign that read “Q sent me” enter the back of the conference room and stand in the back. It was Jacob Chansley, who would later gain infamy as the “QAnon Shaman” when he stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. Hostetter faces charges of his own, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, due to his role in the events at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Griffin was found guilty of entering restricted grounds and sentenced to time served.

Griffin told Raw Story that he met Chansley “at the event in Scottsdale,” and that after their arrests the two men were housed in adjacent jail cells.

Reflecting on the awkward commingling of Christianity and QAnon, Griffin told an interviewer last fall: “I spent all my time witnessing to [Chansley] about Christ and about how he needs to put his faith in Jesus because he’s, in my opinion, and by scripture, he’s lost in that account.”

Griffin told Raw Story that he first met Blazek at the Patriot Party event in Scottsdale, and that since then he has come to know her “as a great patriot.”

“Felisa’s a good person; she’s an organizer,” Griffin said. “To make it look like she’s organizing a violent uprising — that’s what the American people are sick of. People are getting tired of the fake news.”

Many of Trump’s supporters involved in the effort to overturn the election — both before and after Nov. 3, 2020 — used language of “good” and “evil,” and even “war,” as a call to action.

“It’s not left and right, it’s not red and blue,” said David Sumrall, an organizer with the pro-Trump group Stop Hate during an interview with Redgate to promote her appearance at the October 2020 event in Scottsdale. “It’s good and evil…. It’s just real deal. And I’ve told people this a hundred times if I’ve said it once: Until we put the cross next to the flag again, this is a holy war we can’t win.”

A week before the election, Stop Hate posted a video of Daniel Goodwyn speaking at a rally in San Francisco on the group’s Instagram page.

“They’re Satanists and pedophiles,” said Goodwyn. “They’re disgusting. And we have God on our side. And Trump’s gonna win. The only thing standing in our way is the corruption, because they’re gonna try to steal the election via fraud.” Goodwyn, who shared a social media post promoting the Proud Boys and President Trump’s instruction to “stand back, stand by,” live-streamed his participation in the storming of the Capitol, and faces charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct, among other offenses.

A month after the election, white supremacist Nick Fuentes addressed Trump supporters at a “Stop the Steal” rally outside the Hyatt Regency hotel in Phoenix.

“This is not simply a political struggle, as I’m sure all of you know,” Fuentes said. “The real struggle is not between Republicans and Democrats. The real struggle is between good and evil. This is a spiritual war. It is a spiritual war between the devil and the children of Jesus Christ.” Video of Fuentes’ speech was amplified on social media by Goodwyn and Stop Hate.

Stewart, the author of the Power Worshipers, said extremism that rejects the idea that people can disagree without dehumanizing their opponents isn’t compatible with democracy.

“A large-scale political movement that believes that any deviation is illegitimate, and that political opponents are literally controlled by demons puts democracy in peril,” she said.

As Jan. 6, 2021 approached, #1LoudVoice became a mobilizing call for Trump supporters to pressure Congress to block the certification of Joe Biden as the next president.

Felisa Blazek hosted a conference call on Dec. 30, 2020. The guest, a social media strategist named Jason Sullivan who had worked with Trump confidant Roger Stone during the 2016 election, urged listeners to “descend on the Capitol.”

During the call, one of the listeners asked Sullivan what group he was with.

“I am not with a group,” Sullivan said. Blazek interjected and Sullivan amended his statement.

“Well, yes,” he said. “Thank you for correcting me. I just joined with #1LoudVoice. Yes, Felisa’s fantastic and I greatly admire her.”

How Rudy Giuliani turned to a far-right network for bogus evidence to frame 'antifa' for January 6th

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After filming the fatal shooting of Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt, an activist disavowed by Black Lives Matter and other leftist organizations before Jan. 6 became the public face of the right-wing hoax that “antifa" was responsible for attacking the US Capitol.

The film also reveals how the 27-year-old from Provo, John Sullivan, urged rioters to "break that shit" as they pressed towards the doors to the Speaker's Lobby, as lawmakers hurried to safety on the other side.

It now appears Sullivan learned about the planned assault on the US Capitol through his access to a far-right network that included Proud Boys and Oath Keepers. Individuals in this network then turned around and fed Sullivan's information to Rudy Giuliani. Trump’s personal attorney then exploited this information in a propaganda effort to deflect blame for the attack from the former president and his supporters.

Foremost among those attempting to frame "antifa" by spotlighting John Sullivan's involvement was his brother, James Sullivan. A conservative activist with links to the Proud Boys, James Sullivan wrote in a text to an unknown recipient shortly after the attack: "I'm currently working with the FBI to expose and place total blame on John and the 226 members of antifa that instigated the Capitol' riot.'”

A screenshot of this text was obtained by Millie Weaver, part of a team of pro-Trump operatives drafted to review and analyze video of the Jan. 6 attack for Giuliani. Weaver shared the screenshot with Giuliani, her partner Gavin Wince told Raw Story, and Giuliani appears to have tweeted it out by accident nine days after the Jan. 6 attack. However,

To date, no "members of antifa" nor other left-wing activists have been publicly identified as taking part in the breach. The only known associate of John Sullivan who went inside the Capitol on Jan. 6 is Jade Lee Sacker, a photographer working on a documentary about the two brothers.

In a conversation recorded by Thad Cisneros, a former Proud Boy from Utah, John Sullivan explained, "Because I know we were going to storm the Capitol. I'm on chats. I'm on underground chats like — I have my resources, I have my resources. That is not me, but I have people, right?"

Cisneros told Raw Story that he "had zero knowledge" of John Sullivan's plans for Jan. 6 before the attack.

This recording was published in PsyOp the Steal, a pro-Trump documentary made by Weaver, with Cisneros' voice altered to protect his identity. Cisneros recently disclosed to Raw Story that he is the person asking questions in the recording. He also told Raw Story he provided the FBI with a copy of the recording.

Cisneros confirmed that on the night after the Jan. 6 attack, he called Sullivan and spoke to him outside the Hamilton Hotel. Shortly after Cisneros and Sullivan's meeting, Sullivan was detained by the DC Metropolitan Police and FBI for questioning about his involvement in the attack on the Capitol. Later, Cisneros said, the FBI contacted him. Agents wanted to talk to him about Joe Biggs, a national Proud Boys leader, and Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers.

"They asked me questions I knew I couldn't lie about," Cisneros told Raw Story. "They asked me: 'Do you know who this person is?' Of course. This is Joe Biggs. I called Joe Biggs and told him. I'm now regarded as a security threat by the Proud Boys. I understand."

The FBI also wanted information about Rhodes and other members of the Oath Keepers, but Cisneros told Raw Story he could not provide anything relevant to Jan. 6. He acknowledged that he and Rhodes "had been on several chats together," albeit only to discuss "organizing communities."

Cisneros said he was part of a council of national Proud Boys leaders known as the "War Boys," predating the MOSD Leaders Group, a private message group set up on Dec. 20, 2020 to serve as a "national rally planning committee." Biggs, Ethan Nordean (aka Rufio Panman) and former national chairman Enrique Tarriol are all in jail awaiting trial on charges of seditious conspiracy.

"Enrique represented the strategy," Cisneros said. "Rufio represented the brawn. Biggs brought the military chutzpah. I unofficially brought a sense of reason and logic. When I hear things like, 'Storm the capitol,' it sends red flags."

Federal court documents indicate that the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers privately discussed plans to assault the Capitol in separate chats.

On Jan. 4, Tarrio reportedly posted to the MOSD Leaders Group stating, "I didn't see this voice note until now, you want to storm the Capitol." Tarrio's message was in response to a voice note posted the previous evening by John Charles Stewart, a member MOSD's "upper tier leadership," recommending that the Proud Boys "plan the operations based around the front entrance to the Capitol building."

Meanwhile, on Christmas day, according to federal court documents, Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs messaged in the OKFL Hangout Chat when Congress convened for a joint session to certify the electoral vote.

"We need to make those senators very uncomfortable with us being a few hundred feet away," Meggs said.

"I think Congress will screw [President Trump] over," Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes reportedly responded. "The only chance we/he has is if we scare the s*** out of them and convince them it will be torches and pitchforks time is [sic] they don't do the right thing."

In bombshell testimony before the January 6th Committee on Tuesday, former aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed that word of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers' plans reached the White House in the days before the Jan. 6 attack, even as Trump himself was planning to go to the Capitol when Congress met to certify the electoral vote.

"As Mr. Giuliani and I were walking to his vehicle that evening, he looked at me and said something to the effect of, 'Cass, are you excited for the 6th? It's going to be a great day,'" Hutchinson testified. "I remember looking at him and saying, 'Rudy, could you explain what's happening on the 6th?' He responded something to the effect of, 'We're going to the Capitol. It's going to be great. The president's going to be there. He's going to look powerful. He's going to be with the [House] members, he's going to be with the senators. Talk to the chief about it. Talk to the chief about it. He knows about it.'"

When Hutchison recounted that conversation with Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff reportedly told her, "There's a lot going on, Cass. But I don't know. Things might get real, real bad on Jan. 6."

"I recall hearing the word 'Oath Keeper' and hearing the word 'Proud Boys' closer to the planning of the January 6th rally when Mr. Giuliani would be around," Hutchinson later testified.

Robert Costello, Giuliani's lawyer, did not return an email and voicemail for this story.

The Sullivan Brothers

James Sullivan, whose information about his brother John made it to Giuliani shortly after the Jan. 6 attack, was actively involved in a far-right movement that gave him direct access to the Proud Boys leadership.

Joe Biggs, a national organizer for the Proud Boys, introduced James Sullivan at a rally organized by the far-right group in Portland, Ore., in late September 2020.

"I'm part of a patriot group that came up from Utah, the Proud Boys chapter," James Sullivan said at the rally. "The group that I'm part of is called Civilized Awakening I founded back when my brother, John Sullivan — he's antifa; he organized a protest where a shooting occurred in Provo — and that's when we started organizing the patriot movement in Utah.

"My brother, John Sullivan… he was a speed skater," James said later in the speech. "He started two third-party logistics companies. He was conservative. And they manipulated him when Black Lives Matter came to Utah. Now, he was at the DC capitol saying he was gonna pull the president out of office. That Black man, that was my brother. He was raised by Lt. Col. John Sullivan."

Cisneros, another Proud Boy, had also interacted with John Sullivan before Jan. 6, having spoken at a Jul. 2, 2020 rally in Provo that Sullivan organized. Pushing back against the perception that John Sullivan allowed him to speak at the rally, Cisneros recently posted a photo of himself speaking through a megaphone with Sullivan in the background on Instagram, accompanied by the text, "When I took over a #blm event in Provo, UT with #jaydenx in the background. #slutchapter #proudboy #disavowed for working with #blm. I don't take orders I give 'em."

Cisneros told Raw Story that he met the Sullivan brothers' adoptive father. He claimed his was the anonymized voice in the PsyOp the Steal documentary referencing a meeting with the father and two sons.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

On the eve of the attack on the Capitol, Rudy Giuliani and others set up what became known as a "war room" at the Willard Hotel, Cassidy Hutchinson testified to the January 6th Committee on Tuesday.

After law enforcement regained control of the Capitol and Congress reconvened with Vice President Mike Pence to complete the certification of the election on Jan. 6, Giuliani regrouped. His new task was helping to absolve Trump of responsibility for the attack, as the president faced a second impeachment trial.

Michael Trimarco, a New York businessman with a background in tech and finance, recommended Millie Weaver and Gavin Wince to Giuliani. Weaver, a former correspondent for the conspiracy theorist hub InfoWars, and her partner Wince had been staying at the Westin Arlington Gateway in rooms paid for by former CEO Patrick Byrne since mid-November. They were part of a team that included Terpsehore "Tore" Maras and Patrick Bergy.

"When they finally met Rudy was Jan. 7," Trimarco told Raw Story. "The reason was because I felt the need to organize and collate… all the videos that were coming in from crowd sources. Millie and Gavin worked together. Tore has a lot of followers. They were sending stuff in. I said, 'These people would be good to pull all the video together."

Jason Funes, who worked on the Trump campaign in 2016 and 2020 — and worked in the US Department of the Interior from 2017 to 2019 — also contributed to the effort.

"Rudy Giuliani was being briefed by me in a group of people at the Willard Hotel on Jan. 8, and afterwards," Funes told the right-wing podcast Liberty Report podcast in November 2021. "I'm an expert witness, bro. I was the one at the Capitol building on video at sunset watching all these so-called Trump supporters. Listen, if antifa puts on a Trump hate, are they a Trump supporter?"

Following the attack on the Capitol, Funes texted photos of the driver's licenses of the Sullivan brothers' adoptive parents to a New Mexico man named Shawn Bradley Witzemann. In his text to Witzemann, Funes wrote, "Found these on the sidewalk."

Witzemann told Raw Story he doesn't believe that Funes actually found the photo IDs lying on the ground. "That was bogus," Witzemann said. "That's him being a smartass."

Witzemann hosted the Proud Boys-friendly podcast, "Armenian Council for Truth in Journalism." In it, he chronicled pro-Trump events in Washington, DC, Phoenix and Atlanta as a videographer.

One of Witzemann's clips captures an encounter with Funes, who is seen wearing a "Team Trump" shirt, on the evening of Nov. 14, 2020 in downtown Washington, DC, where the Proud Boys and other Trump supporters clashed with left-wing counter-protesters.

Witzemann was arrested in April 2021, and currently faces misdemeanor charges of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and other charges related to the Jan. 6 attack.

Witzemann said he interviewed Sullivan, alongside their fellow Jan. 6 arrestee Jesus Rivera, for a podcast, but did not expend much effort looking into Sullivan's father.

"I thought it was interesting for a minute," Witzemann said. "A lot of times you get led into a dead-end. What are you going to do?"

Asked how he obtained images of the driver's licenses belonging to the Sullivan brothers' parents and why he sent the pictures to Witzemann, Funes did not respond directly. In a prepared statement provided to Raw Story, Funes said, "Rudy Giuliani had DC hotels full of cohorts that were withholding vital information from President Trump and the entire federal government regarding Jan. 6 (including the IDs). In fact, Rudy, Michael Flynn, Sidney Powell, Roger Stone, Ali Alexander and others were culpable of spreading lies about foreign election interference to a sitting president and the entire world."

Flynn, Powell, Stone and Alexander could not be reached for comment about Funes' assertion.

Funes confirmed to Raw Story that he possesses a video interview with Cisneros that references the John Sullivan saga.

After helping Giuliani, Funes met with Kellye SoRelle, a former Texas prosecutor who eventually became the general counsel for the Oath Keepers. SoRelle was representing the president of Latinos for Trump, Bianca Gracia in a lawsuit when Gracia introduced her to Funes.

In an affidavit she shared on Twitter last November, SoRelle included a startling claim about the Cisneros video.

"I was contacted by a guy named Jason Funes," she wrote. "He came to visit me from Florida and brought me a video of a male by the name of xxxxx. Xxxxxx was explaining that he was in Utah and was associated with Jason and John Sullivan (Jayden X). John Sullivan is the individual who was with Ashli Babbitt when she was shot. Thad was being recorded stating that he flew to Washington, DC with Patrick Byrne and the Sullivan brothers, and that Patrick Byrne paid for the provocateurs to be at the capitol."

In an interview with Raw Story, Cisneros disputed SoRelle's claim, saying that Byrne "would have nothing to do with John." Cisneros added, "Patrick Byrne is someone I never had any involvement with. That guy had nothing to do with any of the flights that I took."

Funes also disputed SoRelle's account.

"Kellye SoRelle has taken a video out of context," he told Raw Story. "She didn't watch it in full, and is misrepresenting what Thad said, because that is not what Thad said in that video."

Raw Story has asked Funes to release the video. Funes indicated he was willing to consider the request but would need Cisneros' permission first.

Byrne told Raw Story he doesn't remember flying the Sullivan brothers or Cisneros to Washington, DC before Jan. 6, although he did not entirely rule it out as a possibility.

"Nope, never heard of the guys nor had anything to do with them and their projects," Byrne wrote in an email. "If that turns out to be incorrect, then it is because they were among many dozens whom in November and December who I was bringing to DC mostly for debriefing. The names of very few of those people have reached me. But neither of them ring a bell. And I do not recall helping anyone in around the J6 time. Just a month earlier."

In a text to Patrick Bergy, who was part of the team assisting Giuliani at the Willard Hotel, SoRelle suggested Funes had walked back his statement.

"So, the weird part is Jason changes his story," SoRelle said in the Jun. 1 text, which Bergy provided to Raw Story. "Originally, there was the Byrne flight stuff, which others still say… including another on the flight. But now Jason denies he said it."

In a follow-up text to Bergy, SoRelle said that Bianca Gracia, the president of Latinos for Trump, "told me the same."

SoRelle and Gracia were both present during a Jan. 5, 2021 meeting between Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes in an underground parking garage in Washington, DC. Tarrio and Rhodes are both in jail awaiting trial on charges of seditious conspiracy.

Byrne told Raw Story that he recalled agreeing to a request to fly 15 "pro-freedom Latinos from Texas" to DC for a rally in December 2020, although at that time, he said he did not know Gracia. He added that an unidentified reporter informed him that Tarrio and two to three other people on the flight were Proud Boys.

Byrne said he recently asked Gracia, with whom he is now acquainted, about the parking garage meeting.

"She told me that she knew Enrique for a long time, that he had worked for her before working for Proud Boys and before there even was a Proud Boys, as her state organizer and on her board of directors for Latinos for America," Byrne told Raw Story. (Since Jan. 6, Latinos for Trump has changed its name to Latinos for America First.)

In a Signal thread that included Byrne and Joe Flynn, the brother of retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, Gracia said she hadn't communicated with Cisneros since February 2021.

"He was a Proud Boy but got kicked out of Proud Boys 'cause he tried to make peace w Black Lives Matter people," Gracia wrote. "He also got involved with the Sullivan guy mentioned somehow. And rumor has it he was an informant. At this point, everyone is either an informant or domestic terrorist. I did not pick up Thad's call. I made him text me."

Responding to Gracia's statement, Joe Flynn wrote: "Kellye is crazy, likes to make s*** up."

SoRelle could not be reached for this story.

In the conversation recorded by Cisneros, Sullivan risibly claimed that his brother, James told him "the Italian mafia paid for everybody to fly out there." Steven Kiersh, Sullivan's lawyer, told RawStory that his client "is not under any circumstances to speak with any person other than myself about the case."

Gavin Wince, who was part of the team that assisted Giuliani's effort to collect video and analyze the Jan. 6 attack, told Raw Story that he knows who flew John and James Sullivan to DC, but won't say.

"I can't comment because that is witness tampering," Wince said. "A lot of this is executive privilege. We were working with Rudy Giuliani and the White House on this stuff.

"The information was gathered under an NDA on behalf of Rudy Giuliani for the benefit of Donald Trump," he added. "That was the only reason we were doing that… for the benefit of Donald Trump, because in our mind he's the president of the United States being framed."

Daniel Goldman, the former lead counsel for the House prosecution of Trump's first impeachment, told Raw Story that there's no such protection. Goldman's comment was provided in response to an inquiry for a previous story looking into a claim by Weaver that she could not comment because her work was covered by executive privilege and an NDA.

"There is no such thing as an NDA covered by executive privilege since executive privilege is not contractual," Goldman told Raw Story. "This person would not fall under executive privilege under any circumstance, and I can't imagine what NDA a 'journalist' signed with Trump. The fact of such an NDA would lead me to believe they are trying to cover up misconduct through a sham contract."

Robert Costello, Giuliani's attorney, has previously told Raw Story that his client did not issue any non-disclosure agreements to Weaver and her team and was unaware that any had been given. After looking into the matter, he reported that Giuliani's secretary sent the NDAs to one of Giuliani's security people, who distributed them to the team. Costello said he located Weaver's NDA and observed that it was not signed by Giuliani, adding that without two signatures, a contract has no legal force.

Informed that executive privilege wouldn't cover their work for Giuliani and that the NDAs are likely not legally binding, Wince still declined to elaborate on the Sullivan brothers' flights to DC, saying that his information came from sources who, if disclosed, would face retribution.

"The last thing we want to do is compromise that information if it's evidence," Wince said.

Wince told Raw Story that he and Weaver did not receive any compensation for their work from Giuliani.

"The only gift or benefit we received was being allowed to stay in hotel rooms that had already been pre-booked," he said. "I believe it was Patrick Byrne and Mike Trimarco that had booked whole floors." Wince added that some of their meals were paid for. He also acknowledged that Byrne covered the cost of airfare so that he and Weaver could fly to California to interview a "whistleblower" for a pro-Trump media project.

After receiving information from Weaver, Wince, Funes and others, Giuliani recorded his "Common Sense" podcast for Jan. 13, 2021, promising, "This episode is going to concern itself with what really happened on Jan. 6, 2021."

Giuliani presented John Sullivan as the poster child for his thesis that "antifa" was responsible for the attack on the Capitol, making a case that was only loosely based on fact.

"I guess I'll repeat the word 'antifa' so we can see the organization for which Sullivan is operating," Giuliani told his audience in a video posted on the Rumble platform that has received almost half a million views to date. "Now, just a brief background on Sullivan: Sullivan is a Black Lives Matter/antifa partisan person involved with them. Involved in riots before. If not the most prominent, the most recent was in July 2020. He was arrested for rioting in Provo, Utah, where a person was killed during that riot."

In addition to omitting the critical fact that Sullivan had been shunned by Black Lives Matter organizers, Giuliani's statement included another egregious error. The SUV driver shot during the protest in Provo did not die and launched a bid for Provo's mayor.

"Let's start with the fact that long before Donald Trump or anyone else gave a speech on Jan. 6, this violent protest reaction was being created by other than Donald Trump or Donald Trump partisans, but by antifa and an antifa representative and a professional at creating riots, including riots that resulted in death," Giuliani said. "John Sullivan."

Speaking to Raw Story just before the January 6th Committee hearing on Tuesday, Weaver rejected the claim that Trump and Giuliani planned the attack on the Capitol.

"I've seen the J6 Committee making wild accusations that Trump and Giuliani had premeditated Jan. 6," Weaver said. "To me, that seems so foreign. You get a feel for things when you're in the middle of it. The feeling for me is there wasn't a chance in hell they pre-planned and orchestrated anything of the sort. Really, it seems like afterwards everyone is just trying to figure out what the heck happened. It's alien or way out there to say Trump and his people around him pre-planned an event such as J6, which only served to hurt him. In no way did he benefit. The opposing side benefited greatly from that."

An hour later, under questioning from Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Cassidy Hutchinson would describe three "camps of thought" in the White House, telling the committee that her former boss, Mark Meadows, straddled the moderate and extreme camps. Although Hutchinson didn't mention Weaver — an outsider working to assist Giuliani after the fact — by name, her position could easily be described as aligning with the third view inside the White House.

"And there was the last group, which was 'deflect and blame,'" Hutchinson testified. "Let's blame antifa. These aren't our people."

Pro-Trump social media guru signaled awareness of militia plans in pre-Jan. 6 conference call

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Jason Sullivan, a pro-Trump social media strategist who is aligned with QAnon, assured listeners on a conference call one week before the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol that the information they had been hearing about election fraud and bribery was all going to come out into the open soon.

And with the disclosure of fraud and corruption, Sullivan promised, would come indictments and arrests.

“That’s why President Trump invited everybody there and said it’s going to be quote-unquote wild,” Sullivan said. “It is going to be wild. All these people are implicated. And when they certify those states, they are certifying their crime…. If they knew that there was election fraud that took place and they were involved, or they witnessed it in some way, and they certified the state, they have sealed their doom.”

Then, Sullivan indicated that he was aware of plans by militia groups to take action on Trump’s behalf.

“There’s dates floating around for some of the people in the militia, okay?” Sullivan said. “They will not allow Biden to go into the White House. That’s a fact. I’m not part of that. I don’t applaud that. I don’t endorse it. I don’t encourage it. But I do have my ear to the railroad. We have all the real-time social media intelligence you could imagine.”

Listen here.

The audio recording of Sullivan’s remarks, which is being published for the first time by Raw Story, is an indication that at least some of the operatives and influencers working to mobilize Trump supporters to go to Washington, DC in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021 were aware of plans by militia groups to intervene to prevent the peaceful transition of presidential power.

The audio was provided to Raw Story by Staci Burk, a law school student. It was recorded while members of a security group known as 1st Amendment Praetorian, or 1AP, were at her house. Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was working closely with attorney Sidney Powell to overturn the 2020 election, arranged for the protective detail from 1AP to go to Burk’s house, which she believes was to obtain an affidavit from her, control the narrative, and gain access to a witness they sought. By August 2021, once Burk had been away from 1AP and understood she had been lied to and manipulated, she concluded there was no credible evidence of widespread election fraud.

On the recording, the 1AP member at Burk’s house can be heard saying that he was invited to join the call by Robert Patrick Lewis, the founder of the group. Burk told Raw Story that she recorded things because she feared for her safety.

Sullivan’s comments about the militia groups’ posture towards Biden’s presidency prefaced another set of remarks, which has been previously reported by the New York Times, predicting that Trump would declare martial law. The idea that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act and order the National Guard to seize voting machines and re-run the election had been brought to Trump by Flynn and Powell, along with former CEO, during a Dec. 18, 2020 meeting at the White House. During the Dec. 30 conference call, Sullivan suggested that by declaring martial law, Trump could avoid the necessity of an intervention by militia groups.

“And I don’t see any other way around it,” Sullivan said. “Because, first of all, they’re not going to allow any election fraud to take place. It’s not gonna happen. Biden will never be in that White House. That’s my promise to each and every one of you.”

Under such a scenario, pushback from left-leaning groups like Black Lives Matter and “antifa” could be expected, Sullivan continued.

“At that point, there is no more playing games: ‘We’re telling you, you got a curfew, and you gotta abide by it. Otherwise, you’re gonna get shot in the rear-end, okay. And it may be real bullets — who knows?’” he said. “But he’s not going to allow them to descend on all of our cities and burn down our cities, number one. And the main reason for that is, if he did allow them to do all of that, our militia would step up and meet them with great force, and we would therefore find ourselves in a civil war. There’s no question about that. Does anybody doubt that?”

In addition to prosecution of government officials for fraud — a QAnon fantasy promoted by many of the Trump’s followers that did not come to fruition — Sullivan told listeners on the call that public pressure would also be needed to deter lawmakers from certifying Biden’s as the next president on Jan. 6.

“And that multi-front strategy, I do think, is descend on the Capitol, without question,” Sullivan said. “Make those people feel it inside so they understand that people are breathing down their neck. And we’ve had it. And we’ve got to be perfectly clear about it — now, I’m not inciting violence or any type of riots or anything like that. But we need to be loud.”

Listen here.

Sullivan could not be reached for this story.

Burk told Raw Story that she provided a copy of the recording to the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol in October 2021. She noted that Flynn and 1st Amendment Praetorian founder Robert Patrick Lewis received subpoenas from the committee, which begins public hearings Thursday [June 9], after Burk turned over her recording.

“We need to be like Jericho,” Sullivan told listeners on the call, as he described how he wanted to put pressure on lawmakers on Jan. 6. “We need to shout and scream for the walls to fall down on Capitol Hill. That’s what this optic needs to look like. And I can promise you: I can make that go so viral, so fast, across the globe. I know people. Trust me. And we know how to manipulate and drive the narrative by design.”

Sullivan worked for political consultant Roger Stone under contract during the 2016 campaign. During an appearance at the QAnon gathering For God & Country Patriot Roundup in Dallas last May, he boasted of having played a part in “the biggest political upset in modern-day political history.”

“We shocked ’em, caught ’em off guard,” Sullivan said. “We were able to reach out to all the key influencers in real-time with real-time information that when it mattered most, in the moment of influence. Able to hit ’em where it hurts, first, second, third. Able to amplify exactly what needs to be amplified at the moment of influence… pushed it out there, made sure the world knew about it. Change the narrative. Change the trajectory of the narrative. That’s what we do. This is an information war.”

In April, Stone’s lawyer sent Sullivan a letter ordering him to stop representing himself as “Roger Stone’s senior social media advisor.” In the letter, attorney Grant J. Smith said Sullivan had been fired for cause after “the use of your purported ‘proprietary technologies’ resulted in Roger Stone’s personal suspension from Twitter.” The letter also accused Sullivan of leaking his appearance to the Mueller investigation grand jury in 2018.

Following Sullivan’s grand jury appearance he began to align with the QAnon movement, and embraced the nickname “Wizard of Twitter.”

The HBO documentary Q: Into the Storm features a call with 8kun administrator Ron Watkins, in which Sullivan says, “If Q is trying to utilize or optimize abilities on Twitter, then we can make them better.”

In the film, Watkins tells filmmaker Cullen Hoback: “You know that Sullivan guy, Jason Sullivan? He finally, finally gave me access to that tool…. Yeah, yeah, he got banned from Twitter. So, he had to reboot it. And his reboot is being used by me now. And it’s a super tool. This tool is amazing. My account is the second most powerful Twitter account next to Trump.”

Watkins was actively involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. Introduced as “a large systems data analyst,” he was featured in the One America News special “Dominion-izing the Vote,” which promoted the false impression that Dominion Voting System allowed the election to be manipulated. Watkins provided a sworn declaration that was filed by attorney Sidney Powell in her federal lawsuit attempting to overturn the election result in Arizona.

And on Jan. 5 and 6, Watkins tweeted out links to a three-part series of articles by QAnon influencer Robert Cornero Jr. accusing Vice President Mike Pence and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of assorted treasonous misconduct, including murder and pedophilia. The false stories shared by Watkins were sourced to a discredited felon named Ryan Dark White.

Ron Watkins could not be reached for comment.

Sullivan was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was listed as a speaker at a rally hosted by Latinos for Trump near the Russell Senate Office Building that day. An archived website for the Freedom Rally shows Sullivan featured as a speaker alongside Latinos for Trump president Bianca Gracia, Oath Keepers general counsel Kellye SoRelle, Veterans for America First co-founder Joshua Macias, Bikers for Trump member RC Pittman and Keith and Kenny Lee of MAGA Drag the Interstate. Photos from the event show Sullivan speaking with Pittman and posing alongside Felisa Blazek, the woman who hosted the Dec. 30, 2020 conference call.Tile for Latinos for Trump rally near the US Capitol that featured Jason SullivanScreengrab

The government’s prosecution of the Oath Keepers on seditious conspiracy charges has provided a window into members’ discussions around the time of the Dec. 30 conference call in which Sullivan mobilized Trump supporters to go to Washington, DC.

Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers’ founder and one of 10 men facing sedition charges, warned a regional leader of the militia group that “we will have to do a bloody, massively bloody revolution against them” if Biden were to become president, according to his indictment. During the same interview, Rhodes reportedly urged Trump to use military force to prevent the lawful transfer of presidential power, while describing Jan. 6 as a “hard constitutional deadline.”

On Christmas Day, according to the indictment, Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs told fellow members in an encrypted chat that when the joint session of Congress convened on Jan. 6, “We need to make those senators very uncomfortable with all of us being a few hundred feet away.”

Rhodes responded, according to the indictment: “I think Congress will screw [Trump] over. The only chance is if we scare the s***out of them and convince them it will be torches and pitchforks time if they don’t do the right thing. But I don’t think they will listen.”

The threat of violence on Jan. 6 was apparent even to some outside of the planning circles.

Olivia Troye, a former White House homeland security advisor to Vice President Pence, told MSNBC on Dec. 28, 2020: “Well, you know, I am actually very concerned that there will be violence on January 6th because the president himself is encouraging it. This is what he does. He tweets. He incites it. He gets his followers and supporters to behave in this manner. And these people think that they’re being patriotic because they are supporting Donald Trump.”

Judge Amit P. Mehta noted in an order allowing civil conspiracy lawsuits to go forward against Trump that the former president “would have known about the violence” that accompanied two rallies in DC that set the stage for Jan. 6, given that he tweeted about the preceding rallies. During the Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, 2020 rallies, members of the Proud Boys — five of whose members were indicted on Monday for seditious conspiracy — clashed with left-wing counter-protesters in downtown DC. And on Dec. 12, members of the Oath Keepers assisted 1st Amendment Praetorian in providing security for speakers.

“President Trump’s January 6 rally speech was akin to telling an excited mob that corn-dealers starve the poor in front of the corn-dealer’s home,” Mehta wrote in his ruling, which found that plaintiff lawmakers plausibly alleged that Trump, the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio engaged in a civil conspiracy to prevent them from discharging their duties to certify Biden as the next president by means or force, intimidation or threats.

“He invited his supporters to Washington, DC, after telling them for months that corrupt and spineless politicians were to blame for stealing the election from them,” Mehta wrote, “retold that narrative when thousands of them assembled at the Ellipse; and directed them to march on the Capitol building — the metaphorical corn-dealer’s house — where those very politicians were at work to certify an election that he had lost.”

Nationalist faction within the White House feuded with Mark Meadows amid plot to keep Trump in power

Peter Navarro, President Trump’s former trade advisor was indicted for contempt of Congress on Friday due to his refusal to cooperate with the January 6th Committee, which has signaled interest in his communications with the president.

Less attention has been paid to Garrett Ziegler, a Navarro aide and zealous Trump loyalist who both supported his boss’ efforts and coordinated with a network of outside operatives who were promoting an onslaught of false claims about election fraud and legally dubious schemes to preserve Trump’s hold on power.

Ziegler received an email from the senior investigative counsel for the committee, which is scheduled to begin public hearings on June 9, requesting a meeting to discuss information he might have that is relevant to the congressional investigation.

Among his extensive efforts from his office at the White House, Ziegler facilitated a now-infamous late-night meeting on Dec. 18, 2020 in which attorney Sidney Powell, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and former CEO Patrick Byrne tried to persuade President Trump to order the National Guard to seize voting machines and re-running elections in six battleground states he lost to Joe Biden.

Ziegler used his White House Worker and Visitor Entry System, or WAVES pass to let Powell, Flynn and Byrne into the White House, allowing them to hold an impromptu meeting with Trump in the Oval Office, as he later recounted in an interview with fellow election denier David Clements. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone were caught by surprise by the meeting, which reportedly descended into a shouting match. Ziegler’s efforts bypassed protocol for White House meetings, and he said when it was discovered that he had let the plotters into the White House, his visitor’s privileges were revoked.

In Navarro’s book In Trump Time, he wrote that “to support the challenge effort, he allowed “several members of my staff to help out in the battleground states on their own time.” Navarro’s book describes “the young and always earnest” Ziegler venturing to an Indian reservation in Nevada to investigate alleged vote-buying shortly after the election. The work eventually culminated in the three-part Navarro Report, which asserted without evidence that the election had been stolen from Trump.

Around the time of the election, a man named Mark Cook took a photograph of cardboard boxes stacked on metal shelves that were labeled “Dominion Voting” and “Made in China.”

“My good friend Mark Cook took this picture,” Ziegler, who is now 26, wrote on his Telegram channel in June 2021. “We infiltrated the election equipment storage facility in Sacramento County, CA, and documented all of the violations of law.”

Cook’s photograph would later be used on the final page of a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN” put together by Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel with a background in psychological warfare that was shown to members of Congress on Jan. 4 and 5, 2021. The presentation recommended that Vice President Mike Pence set aside the electoral votes from the six battleground states carried by Biden, and also called on President Trump to order the National Guard to seize voting machines and re-count the ballots.

For his part, Cook remains active in the election denial movement. Last month, he and Clements, a former New Mexico State University professor, addressed a Republican-controlled board of commissioners in Surry County, NC. Introduced by Clements as “our hardware and IT cybersecurity expert,” Cook told commissioners: “If our Pentagon can’t secure a network, Department of Defense can’t secure a network, our Department of Homeland Security can’t secure a network, are we really so foolish as to think the only system that is completely impervious to any cyber-hack is our voting system?”

Cook’s 25-minute presentation omitted a simple fact — voting tabulation machines are not networked, and preliminary counts are transferred on a mobile drive to a computer to be uploaded from local election offices for election-night reporting.

Both Ziegler and Cook were trusted associates in the network of operatives and conspiracy theorists that worked under the competing legal teams headed by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and by Powell, alongside Flynn and Byrne.

In a private Telegram text to another election denier that has been reviewed by Raw Story, Waldron said, “Mark and Garrett have worked with us since 14 Nov 20.” He added that Ziegler and Cook “both passed rigorous background checks” after suspicions arose that CIA and British intelligence assets were attempting to infiltrate the network plotting to overturn the election.

“I have no idea what Waldron was alluding to,” Ziegler told Raw Story in an email. “None. I had an active [top secret/sensitive compartmented information] clearance at the time. I think he was just spinning a tale for others.”

Waldron declined to comment for this story.

Michael Trimarco, a Giuliani associate who rented a bloc of rooms at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel in November 2020, also alluded to a dual role on Ziegler’s part in an interview with the far-right podcaster Ann Vandersteel earlier this year.

“I know some of the people that were his direct reports, because he wasn’t officially reporting directly to Peter,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “So, I know some of these other people. And politically that didn’t make people around in Peter’s world very happy with Garrett in the inter-office kinda…. But from what I saw, he was well connected with Peter… and I know he furnished a lot of information for the report.”

While enmeshed with the outside election denial network, Ziegler also provided the external teams with a direct conduit to the White House and President Trump, to the extent that Trimarco said information about election irregularities would often reach Trump before even Giuliani knew about it.

“Ironically, a lot of the stuff that got back to Rudy didn’t end up coming through me,” Trimarco said. “Because once that connection was made, Garrett would give it to Peter, and Peter would give it to the president. And then it would circle back to Rudy.”

In his interview with Clements, Ziegler dated work on the three-part Navarro Report to Nov. 15 — one day after Waldron said he had started working with Ziegler. Ziegler said he and four other aides assisted Navarro with the reports.

“We prepared — Peter gave direction,” Ziegler told Clements. “He’s a fantastic, logical thinker, which is very hard — easier said than done. He laid it out, what his vision was. And our job was to get the first draft.”

Much of the information in the reports was funneled up from the outside team, Trimarco said.

“Peter put out a three-volume report together, and a lot of the information — not all of it — came from this group of analysts that work working out of the Westin that did not go to Tomotley,” Trimarco said, referencing attorney Lin Wood’s estate in South Carolina, where Powell and Flynn established a working headquarters away from DC.

One day after Powell, Flynn and Byrne’s Dec. 18 visit to the White House to promote their plan to have the National Guard seize voting machines and re-run the election, Trump tweeted out a link to the Navarro Report, with an invitation to his supporters to attend a “wild rally” in DC on Jan. 6, 2021.

Similar to his former boss, since leaving the White House Ziegler has continued to deride a coterie of officials he considers weak and insufficiently loyal to the president. In interviews and Telegram messages, Ziegler has particularly singled out Meadows for savage criticism.

In Telegram message in late January 2021, Ziegler wrote that he feared Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg would take control of the country and impose a dystopian “technocracy.”

“And I can assure you, from my standpoint in the WH, I did everything I could to prevent this,” Ziegler said. “I broke rules, protocol, etc. If I had a decade more of life under my belt, I would have had the formal power to get rid of Meadows, Cipollone, etc.”

Ziegler’s Telegram messages suggest he viewed Meadows as an obstacle to efforts to overturn the election. In one message, in February 2021, Ziegler faulted Meadows for citing an audit in Georgia as evidence of due diligence, writing that the chief of staff was “so fckn dumb (or compromised)” that he didn’t question whether an auditing company could be corrupted by “mob-like cartels.”

Like Navarro, who was indicted for contempt of Congress on Friday, Meadows is fighting a subpoena from the January 6th Committee. Last December, the House voted to hold Meadows in contempt, referring his case to the Justice Department for prosecution.

Meadows played a critical role in shepherding an array of schemes entertained by Trump in his quest to hold onto power. That included hosting meetings with the president and members of the House Freedom Caucus to discuss a plan — much like Navarro’s “Green Bay Sweep” — to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to remand the electoral votes back to the battleground states and delay certifying the election for Biden, according to testimony to the January 6th Committee by White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. Meadows also hosted a meeting in which Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), who is now the chair of the Freedom Caucus, expressed support for the idea of sending Trump supporters to the Capitol on Jan. 6, while others in the meeting remained silent, the New York Times has reported. Hutchinson also reportedly testified to the committee that she saw Meadows burn documents in his office fireplace after a meeting with Perry.

Ziegler has positioned himself to the right of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, of which Meadows was a chair before he left Congress to serve as Trump’s chief of staff.

“He’s a Freedom Caucus guy,” Ziegler complained to Clements during his July 2021 interviewed. “And what this means is — I call them ‘permanent hearing holders.’ So, Benghazi, Killary…. Nobody ever gets indicted with these jokers. Mark Meadows comes from that ilk…. So, how does this relate to the president’s chief of staff? He just wasn’t effective. He would get steamrolled by people.”

Much of Ziegler’s rhetoric on Telegram is laced with racist vitriol that uses African nations as a stand-in for national decline, while Christian chauvinism as force for national rebirth.

“If we elect people like Mark Meadows — good, jolly, your brother next door — we’re gonna end up like Zimbabwe,” Ziegler said. “If I could do one thing — which is stop electing nice guys. We need Christian zealots, frankly.”

Ziegler expressed a similar sentiment in a March 2021 Telegram message, in which he wrote, “We could have a Third Great Awakening in the country, both religious and political. And the coup we just went through could be the flint that ignites it. Hopefully its ends will be a repentance to the Christ and a Republic that gets rid of this corrupt and satanic Oligarchy.”

Beyond the Dec. 18, 2020 meeting he arranged at the White House, Ziegler said he tried to help Powell get to the president on different occasion.

“I walked Sidney over to the residence one to try to get the president a binder full of evidence,” Ziegler said on a podcast in February 2021. “And we got blocked again there, too.”

Ziegler recalled that he would tell anyone who would listen to him in the White House: “Let’s just go look at the ballots. We don’t have to do it. Have the National Guard in Georgia do it.”

‘If I’m not dead or in prison’: How Peter Navarro worked to overturn the election from the White House

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The indictment of Peter Navarro, former trade advisor to Donald Trump, on contempt of Congress charges, puts a spotlight on one of the most prominent White House insiders involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 election.

The announcement about the indictment on Friday takes place following Navarro's disclosure that he was commanded to appear before a grand jury in Washington, DC earlier this week, as part of the Department of Justice’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.

Navarro disclosed the subpoena in a civil suit in which he is seeking to block the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol from compelling him to testify in the congressional investigation. Navarro revealed that the subpoena commanded him to turn over all documents requested by the January 6th Committee, “including but not limited to any communications with formal [sic] President Trump and/or his counsel or representative,” to the grand jury.

Perhaps no other figure within the Trump administration, other than the president himself, was as actively involved in the effort to overturn the election as Navarro, who enjoyed unique access as director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy in the White House.

Navarro’s extensive involvement in the effort to aid Trump in his quest to hold on to power began even before the election with repeated appearances on Fox News to attack his boss’ electoral opponent, Joe Biden, dating back to May 2020. Following the election, Navarro produced a three-part report purporting to show evidence of election fraud. As previously reported by Raw Story, Navarro also recruited cybersecurity experts to investigate election irregularities. And, as detailed in his book, Trump Time, as Jan. 6 neared Navarro circulated a plan dubbed the “Green Bay Sweep” calling on Congress to remand electoral votes back to six battleground states and delay certification of the election.

Navarro hinted at the stakes in his lawsuit against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which was filed in federal court in Washington, DC on Wednesday, vowing retaliation.

If the January 6th Committee is able to strip Trump and his former senior White House advisers of privileged immunity, “just imagine what will happen to Joe Biden and his advisers if Republicans win both the White House and House in 2024,” Navarro warned. “In fact, I don’t need to imagine this repeat of the strategic game. If I’m not dead or in prison, I will ‘tit for tat’ lead the charge.”

Navarro is promoting a new book scheduled for publication in September called Taking Back Trump’s America, which is framed as a roadmap for Trump’s return to the White House. A page on Navarro’s website promoting the book boasts that “he was in all the rooms where it happened,” while blaming Trump’s “fall” on “incompetent and disloyal” appointees. The book features a blurb from former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who describes it as “a brass-knuckled insider’s account of the merciless 2020 fall and miraculous 2024 rise of the White House of Trump.”

Following the Nov. 3, 2020 election, Navarro undertook an investigation with the assistance of aide Garrett Ziegler that would lead to the three-part Navarro Report claiming that there was evidence of extensive election fraud. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the January 6th Committee, has said that claims of fraud in the Navarro Report “have been discredited in public reporting, by state officials, and courts.”

President Trump cited the Navarro Report as evidence of fraud and included a link to the report in his infamous Dec. 19, 2020 tweet summoning his supporters to Washington, DC for a “wild rally” on Jan. 6, 2021.

In his lawsuit defying the January 6th Committee, Navarro argues that his responsibilities in the Trump White House should be considered broader than his formal role as trade adviser.

“Given the economic and national security ramifications of a possibly stolen election, I worked diligently in my official capacity as a government official within the White House and as a senior White House adviser to help the president and other senior advisers navigate what appeared to be the most sophisticated assault on American democracy ever perpetrated,” he wrote.

Navarro has made frequent appearances on Bannon’s “War Room” podcast, and also, according to one person interviewed by Raw Story, turned to Bannon for help recruiting people with technical expertise, although Navarro has denied the claim.

Dennis Nathan Cain, a cybersecurity expert who volunteered his time in Washington, DC in November and December 2020, and filed an expert report for a civil suit in Arizona state court, told Raw Story that “Steve Bannon was involved in the request that I come down to DC.” He added, “Peter Navarro had reached out to Steve Bannon about finding some guys that had some experience. Myself, my experience is in regulatory compliance at systems levels.”

Cain said he worked on a three-person team that included Harry Haury, who had previously appeared on Bannon’s “War Room” to discuss Trump’s crackdown on the social media app TikTok in August 2020. During his guest appearance, Haury was introduced by Bannon’s co-host Raheem Kassam as CEO of NuCloud Holdings.

Asked about Cain’s account, Navarro wrote in an email to Raw Story: “False.”

While assembling his reports claiming election fraud, Navarro had access to an array of materials generated by a vast network of experts, analysts, so-called “whistleblowers” and conspiracy theorists working under dueling legal teams, one led by the president’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and the other by the triune of attorney Sidney Powell, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and former CEO Patrick Byrne.

As previously reported by Raw Story, Ziegler, Navarro’s aide, made frequent trips across the Potomac River to the Westin Arlington Gateway, where Giuliani associate Michael Trimarco has rented a bloc of rooms, to collect information.

“I mean, this guy — talk about people really working 24-7,” Trimarco said in an interview earlier this year with far-right podcaster Ann Vandersteel. “He would come around at 11, midnight, 1, after he’s done at the White House, to get information. I saw him come by one or two times. But he was working with a few key people on our team to get the information.”

“The Navarro Report, which I helped write, documented the Low Rent fraud in great detail, with hundreds of footnotes and affidavits,” Ziegler wrote in message on the social media app Telegram in April 2021. “(I still think I’m the only person in the USA with all the unredacted affidavits ha).”

Initially, Trimarco’s designated role was to relay information from Powell’s team to Giuliani. But due to the fact Trimarco was frequently shuttling back and forth to Long Island on Byrne’s private plane to be with his wife while she was pregnant, the information often bypassed Trimarco, and Giuliani learned about it from Trump.

“Ironically, a lot of the stuff that got back to Rudy didn’t end up coming through me,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “Because once that connection was made, Garrett would give it to Peter, and Peter would give it to the president. And then it would circle back to Rudy.”

Another Navarro aide, Joanna Miller, secretly authored a report baselessly accusing Dominion Voting Systems of corrupting the election on behalf of Joe Biden, according to a report by the Guardian.

In December 2020, the US Office of Special Counsel found that Navarro violated the Hatch Act “by using his official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of the 2020 presidential election through both media appearances and social media.” The violations occurred in the period before the Nov. 3, 2020 election, preceding both the Navarro Report and formulation of the “Green Bay Sweep.”

The Office of Special Counsel cited at least six media interviews between May 26 and Oct. 19, 2020 in which Navarro appeared on Fox News in his official capacity and attacked Biden as being “compromised” or susceptible to being “bought” by China, and ridiculed him with the nickname “Beijing Biden.”

While refusing to testify before the January 6th Committee, Navarro described the Green Bay Sweep in his book Trump Time as a plan “which sought to leverage Vice President Mike Pence’s constitutional power” with the goal of “delay[ing] certification of the election for at least another several weeks ‘while Congress and the various state legislatures involved investigate[d] all of the fraud and election irregularities” that would be raised that [on Jan. 6, 2021] on Capitol Hill.”

In his lawsuit filed on Wednesday, Navarro argued that the violence that ensued on Jan. 6 was counterproductive to the successful implementation of his plan, and he said the mayhem was not what he, Trump or Bannon wanted.

“Because implementation of the Green Bay Sweep strategy required ‘only peace and calm on Capitol Hill,’ the last thing President Trump and I wanted was ‘to hand Congress an excuse to abort the operation’ with an outbreak of violence and chaos and the last people ‘who wanted to see violence erupt that January 6 day on Capitol Hill’ included both myself and President Trump (along with Stephen K. Bannon),” Navarro said.

Navarro’s lawsuit does not address the fact that numerous Trump allies, including his son Donald Jr. and Fox News personalities Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Brian Kilmeade, pleaded with the president to condemn the violence on Jan. 6, and that the president was the only person with the influence to persuade his supporters to stand down that day.

Navarro also did not address Bannon’s warning on “War Room” the day before the attack that “all hell is going to break loose tomorrow.”

Bannon’s comments on Jan. 5, as reported in the Washington Post, not only predicted the violence but appear to have summoned Trump’s supporters to DC.

“So many people said, ‘Man, if I was in revolution, I would be in Washington,’” Bannon reportedly said. “Well, this is your time in history.” In another comment, Bannon reportedly said: “It’s all converging, and now we’re on the point of attack tomorrow…. All I can say is: Strap in. You have made this happen, and tomorrow it’s game day.”

Navarro declined to comment on Bannon’s remarks.

Bannon has been indicted for contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with his subpoena from the January 6 Committee.

Citing Bannon’s “all hell is going to break loose” prediction, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told fellow committee members last October: “Based on the committee’s investigation, it appears that Mr. Bannon had substantial advanced knowledge of the plans for January 6th, and likely had an important role in formulating those plans.”

How a spook and right-wing journalists helped mobilize the 'MAGA counterstrike' election-denial network

Patrick Bergy rode his Harley-Davidson to Austin, Texas, and was waiting for an interview with conspiracy-theory honcho Alex Jones in mid-August of 2020 when he learned about the arrest of Millie Weaver, who also happened to be a correspondent for Jones’ outfit InfoWars.'

The details were vague, but Weaver and her partner and producer Gavin Wince, along with her brother, had been arrested at their home in Ohio while Weaver was uploading the final cut of a documentary called ShadowGate, in which Bergy was featured as a “whistleblower” who spoke about his experience as a military contractor following his discharge from the Army in 2007. Given the urgency of the moment, Bergy looked up the address for InfoWars and walked into the studio without an appointment. Jones quickly recorded an interview for a breaking-news segment about the arrest of one of his contributors.

“I’m the pioneer of [Interactive Internet Activities], basically social media/fake news,” Bergy said, remarking on the irony that he was sitting in the guest chair at InfoWars. “The last place that I’m going to go is an organization called ‘Information Warfare,’ right?”

Following Weaver’s arrest and while he was still in Texas, Bergy said he also spoke to a man named Robert Caron, a shadowy figure who claimed to have a background in intelligence. Bergy had met him before when Caron convened a meeting of his group Joint Task Force MAGA, or JTF MAGA — a self-described “MAGA counterstrike supergroup of American patriots to help expose illegal government surveillance and support President Donald Trump in Making America Great Again” — at a restaurant in the Tampa, Fla. area two years earlier, according to Bergy’s recollection. Bergy turned down an offer to join JTF MAGA, concluding that it wasn’t geared to his specific interest. But he had stayed in touch with Caron.

Caron then offered Bergy a $5,000 retainer to stay in Texas and work on a project, according to Bergy. As much as Bergy could discern based on the details offered by Caron, the job entailed setting up a website to promote JTF MAGA’s content. Bergy said he declined the offer, telling Caron he needed to get to Ohio to help Weaver and Wince.

Shortly after Weaver’s arrest, according to Bergy, he was contacted by Lara Logan — a former correspondent for CBS’ "60 Minutes" who had been widely praised for her coverage of Iraq and other conflict zones in the Middle East. At the time she was working for the Fox Nation streaming service. The claim was first outlined in an affidavit that Bergy executed in early December 2020 and that he provided to attorney Sidney Powell for use in her lawsuits seeking to overturn the presidential election.

Bergy did not disclose the identity of the “person that arranged the conversation,” but has since said that it was Caron. During a conference call with Weaver, Wince, Bergy, Caron, Logan and Logan’s husband, Joseph W. Burkett, Bergy wrote in his affidavit that “we were asked if we would meet them at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to discuss further; I declined and so did Millie and Gavin.”

Upon its release, the ShadowGate documentary took hits from all sides, with legacy media assailing it as being “filled with false claims and insinuations,” and others on the far right questioning Weaver’s credibility because she was charged with domestic violence. The charges reportedly stemmed from an incident in April when Weaver, her brother and Wince attempted to wrest a phone away from Weaver’s mother, prompting her to flee to a neighbor’s house and called 911. Shortly after the documentary’s release, Alex Jones — never shy about making outlandish claims himself — fired Weaver from InfoWars.

But Logan came to Weaver’s defense, tweeting on Aug. 22: “By now this is a familiar pattern — another tactic of information warfare that has proved so effective. I know many Americans are looking forward to getting the whole truth on this. It’s on all of our interests given the significance of what was done just to hold onto power.”

Logan’s endorsement carried some weight. On one hand, her credibility had sustained damage from a story about the 2012 Benghazi attack that “60 Minutes” was forced to retract (and much later would be pushed out of Fox Nation for comparing Dr. Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele). On the other hand, unlike Jones who built a career around promoting conspiracy theories, Logan had worked at the highest levels in journalism and was widely admired for her courageous reporting in Iraq and decades of experience.

Later, Bergy said Wince told him that Logan had Burkett reach "out to them with information that exposed the arrest of Millie Weaver was orchestrated” by military contractors in a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside of Dayton, Ohio.

Bergy noted that Burkett had previously worked as a military contractor himself employed by the public relations firm Lincoln Group, which was hired by the Defense Department to plant positive stories geared towards Iraqi audiences during the Iraq war. Bergy faulted Logan in his affidavit for not investigating information that she privately shared with Weaver and Wince, especially considering her track record as an investigative journalist.

“It is extremely concerning to all involved the claims made by the Logans [sic] and warrant further investigation,” Bergy wrote in his affidavit. “The arrest of a US journalist, orchestrated on a US military base, cannot be dismissed without a thorough investigation into the Logan’s [sic] claims.”

While Logan has not reported on the mysterious connection between Weaver’s arrest and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, her journalistic instincts would prove to be attuned to the behind-the-scenes efforts to overturn the election. On Jan. 5, 2021, one day before the assault on the US Capitol, Logan tweeted out a link to a PowerPoint presentation entitled “Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN.” The document had been used in presentations by Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel with a background in information warfare, as he briefed members of Congress on Jan. 4 and 5. The PowerPoint called on Trump to order the National Guard, with support from the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security, to conduct a recount of the 2020 election. On Jan. 6, the day Congress was scheduled to meet to accept the presidential elections, the PowerPoint proposed three options for Vice President Mike Pence, all of which would have either delayed or prevented Joe Biden from becoming the next president.

“This is what is being briefed on the Hill today re election fraud — for those of you who want to go to the source rather than get it second-hand,” Logan wrote.

Logan and Burkett could not be reached for comment for this story.

The charges against Weaver and Wince were eventually dropped. Whether there is any truth to the explosive claim that Weaver’s arrest was secretly orchestrated from a military base remains unclear. Regardless, it reinforced Weaver’s paranoid view of a Deep State intent on silencing Trump supporters.

“From what I hear, we’re in the jurisdiction for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Weaver told her followers during a Periscope livestream in late 2020. “And apparently it would have been really easy to have us at this jail here and then transferred to an espionage jail. What’s going on right now is insane, guys. It’s very creepy.”

‘They were setting all these scams up’

The ShadowGate documentary had been quickly debunked by USA Today and PolitiFact, and although it reportedly drew millions of views, it receded from public discussion as just one more QAnon-inspired conspiracy vehicle, as violence in Kenosha, Wis. and Portland, Ore. set the stage for the final tumultuous months of the 2020 presidential election campaign. While the documentary might have seemed obscure even for the far-right audience to which it was geared, its four principals would find roles in the network of conspiracy theorists and operatives that sprung into action to delegitimize the 2020 election and aid Donald Trump in his quest to hold onto power.

In addition to Weaver, the producer and writer of ShadowGate, Wince, credited as its director, and the documentary’s two featured “whistleblowers” — Bergy and pro-Trump podcaster Terpsehore “Tore” Maras — all wound up in Washington, DC in mid-November 2020.

The ShadowGate documentary had a particular utility in the effort to delegitimize the 2020 election, as Bergy himself would come to recognize. More than three months before attorney Sidney Powell told radio host Glenn Beck on Nov. 20 that “our forces” confiscated servers held by an election technology company named Scytl in Germany, Weaver had narrated a similar scenario in ShadowGate.

“Scytl is one of the most notorious outsource companies for elections, with regular electronic voting machine problems, who also tabulate our election results and cloud services in Europe, aka servers outside the United States,” Weaver said. The claim was false.

Weaver could not be reached for this story.

Spurned by Alex Jones — who heavily promoted the Jan. 6 rally in DC and took to a bullhorn to address rioters at the Capitol that day — Weaver found a new patron in Patrick Byrne. After Jan. 6, Weaver collected and analyzed video for Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, in support of his effort to cast the attack as the work of “antifa” agent provocateurs.

Bergy told Raw Story that he also later learned that Logan was responsible for arranging for Weaver and Wince to come to Washington, DC after the 2020 election. Bergy said he was asked to come to DC by Weaver and Wince, and they were already there when he arrived around Nov. 15, 2020. Byrne, the former CEO and significant financier for the election denial efforts, confirmed in a text message to Raw Story that he covered the cost of hotel rooms for Weaver, Wince, Bergy and Maras at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel in late 2020. But Byrne said he had no knowledge of Logan encouraging Weaver and Wince to come to DC and did not make any arrangements with her.

Byrne also footed the bill for a reporting trip to California by Weaver and Wince in late November 2020, according to Bergy. In a text provided by Bergy, Wince warned that alienating Byrne “could cost us our trip to CA.” Byrne did not dispute the claim that he covered the cost of the trip.

“No, I don’t have a specific recollection of this, it sounds plausible,” Byrne told Raw Story. “I’ll go farther: vaguely rings a bell. That is to say, I’m vaguely remembering that I did pay for a trip or two for them. Along with many dozens of others, incidentally.”

The catalyst for Maras to show up in DC in November 2020 is somewhat murkier. In a conversation on the Stereo app in July 2021, Maras told Bergy that she had known Byrne “before everyone else.” Byrne gave a different account, telling Raw Story that he had “never met or heard of her until” he met her around Nov. 16, 2020. But Joshua Merritt, an IT consultant who provided a declaration to support Powell’s lawsuits attempting to overturn the election, has made statements in the past that predate the relationship between Byrne and Maras long before November 2020. In a reply to an April 30 Twitter thread, Merritt said Maras had been “brought in with Byrne” to work on investigating alleged election fraud after the 2019 election in Kentucky.

In retrospect, Bergy said he has come to see that the claims put forward in ShadowGate performed a valuable service in preparing the ground for the broad election denial narrative that Trump’s supporters worked to build in November.

“That was two or three months before the election,” Bergy said. “That was right after ShadowGate was released. What else was in ShadowGate? Scytl. They knew November 3rd was going to happen, let alone January 6th. They were setting all these scams up. It sure seems like they were putting these things in place at least three months ahead of time to be able to prepare for Trump’s loss.

“It was useful,” Bergy added. “If they didn’t plan it, they should have.”

Bergy said he learned later that Waldron, the retired Army colonel, praised ShadowGate to Weaver and Wince at a party at Trump International Hotel on Nov. 14, 2020.

“Phil Waldron approached Millie and Gavin, and said he was the biggest fan of ShadowGate,” Bergy told Raw Story. “He identified himself as Phil Waldron and said he believed everything in ShadowGate because he replaced the IIA chief after I left. He said he knew who I was, and he understood my background in ShadowGate.”

Waldron could not be reached for comment for this story, while Byrne denied that the content of ShadowGate played any role in shaping his initial impressions of Weaver, Wince, Maras and Bergy.

“No, never heard of them or that movie until mid-November 2020,” he told Raw Story. “They were on their own path when I met them, and they have continued so. None of them have ever taken any direction from me.”

‘Calling out too many people… will backfire’

Lara Logan’s behind-the-scenes role would prove to be a source of ongoing tension among the principals in the ShadowGate film during the period they were working out of the Westin hotel to aid the effort to overturn the election.

“Calling out too many people (Logan, Burns [sic]) will backfire,” Wince told Bergy in November 2020, according to a text obtained by Raw Story. “It could compromise things we have in the works.

“Pissing off Burns [sic] could cost us our trip to CA we have planned that are important, and pissing off Logan while mentioning Millie could piss off Millie and/or cost her ability to use that channel,” he added.

Wince could not be reached for this story.

In Bergy’s view, his duty as a whistleblower obligated him to tell the whole truth, no matter whose sensibilities might be offended.

“When you say we need to be putting this s*** out because nothing’s getting done,” he told Wince, “I didn’t link to Millie, and I’m posting my affidavit tomorrow online which literally includes Lara’s/Joe’s involvement.”

The central focus of Bergy’s 70-page affidavit was the development of “social media psychological warfare weapons and techniques'' that he had observed as a military contractor, and his position that they were being applied on domestic targets in the United States. The affidavit traced a history from a complaint filed by Bergy to the Department of Defense Inspector General in 2015, and then name-dropped a wide array of prominent figures with whom he interacted in his quest to bring the information to light, including Logan and her husband, Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro, InfoWars host Alex Jones, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander and Trump confidant Roger Stone.

Bergy has said his sole objective during his time in DC was to get his information to Trump.

In August 2021, Bergy asked Byrne to explain what happened to his affidavit once he submitted it to the legal team led by Sidney Powell so that he could include his response in a book. Byrne obliged.

“Your affidavit was read and absorbed,” Byrne confirmed. “The whistleblowers were met with and debriefed. Everything they and you had to say got put into a larger picture we were forming. The information from the whistleblowers in Arizona could immediately inform what we were doing; your bigger picture information, while accepted as truthful, did not have a precise application, though it was valuable for our situational awareness.”

In contrast to Bergy’s affidavit, Powell filed a 37-page anonymized declaration submitted by his fellow ShadowGate “whistleblower” Terpsehore “Tore” Maras in support of her lawsuits in Wisconsin and Arizona.

Maras’ declaration mentioned Scytl, the Spain-based election technology company, a total of 23 times, echoing the claim made by Weaver three and a half months earlier in ShadowGate. In her declaration, Maras claimed that votes cast in the 2020 election were put through a “mixing phase” while an “algorithm redistributes votes.” Her declaration also claimed that “Scytl re-encrypts ballot data” and has the ability to access the vote through “backdoors” that could “alter the range of the algorithm deployed to satisfy the outcome sought in the case of algorithm failure.”

Maras’ claims represented a fundamental misunderstanding of Scytl’s role in US elections. The company provides election-night reporting services that offer a visual representation of votes tabulated by local election officials, but as it noted in a fact-checking statement issued more than two weeks before Maras executed her declaration, Scytl does not tabulate votes.

“On election night, each election office tabulates the vote using their tabulation vendor’s physical machines and uploads those results to Scytl’s [election-night reporting program],” the company explained. All ENR servers being used for the US elections are physically located in the United States. Scytl does NOT tabulate, tally or count votes.” Scytl’s statement was cited by a fact-check published by Reuters, which rated as “false” a claim by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) that the US Army had seized Scytl’s servers in Germany.

Seth Keshel, a former Army military intelligence captain who assisted Powell’s team in preparing the lawsuits, cautioned another election denier in a private Telegram message in August 2021 that Maras’ claims shouldn’t be taken at face value.

“Tore is not credible,” Keshel wrote. “I was on the initial teams drafting lawsuits over the states with Sidney and Flynn. Our teams researched her heavily and found many problems.” He added that “unfortunately she wound up as a key witness in one of our cases.”

Byrne told Raw Story in an email that he “had no hand” in preparing the lawsuits, “and was not aware until much later that Tore had provided the affidavit.”

But Byrne was sufficiently concerned about Maras’ credibility that he tasked a team with interviewing her a couple of weeks after the declaration was filed in federal court.

“Tore was taken out and interviewed by some people I know in the intelligence community who are absolutely on our side,” Byrne told Bergy in his August 2021 email. “They came back telling me: ‘She knows some things and has been behind the curtain, but she also lies, exaggerates, deflects, changes subjects rapidly trying to throw people off, and we cannot rely on her for anything factual because we caught her in too many lies and exaggerations over three hours (precisely as I warned her they would do if she did not heed a little coaching from me).”

Maras defended her qualifications in an email to Raw Story.

"If you read my affidavit, you would know that I am an amateur cryptographer," she said. "Therefore, I am very familiar with cryptography, ethics and research surrounding it. I participate in attending such conferences and seminars when I can."

Robert Caron, who had initially put Bergy, Weaver and Wince in touch with Lara Logan, was in and around DC from November 2020 through January 2021, according to Bergy.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, Maras perceived him as a threat. Speaking with Bergy on the Stereo app in July 2021, Maras fumed about a host of obscure operators vying for Powell and Flynn’s attention in late 2020.

“And you have this motherf***er standing there, bidding to help you?” she said. “They’re there to destroy you. And they are seeing everything we are giving you. And they are dismantling it. Like, that other guy, f***ing, you know, Caron, right, popped out of nowhere.”

While Maras distrusted Caron, she felt differently about Lara Logan.

“You know who hooked me up to Logan?” Bergy asked. “Because I introduced Logan to Millie and Gavin. You know who hooked me up with Logan? Our friend, Robert. She’s got interesting friends. If known contractors and CIA assets are arranging your introductions to journalists that are married to military-industrial complex psy-op contractors, am I wrong in thinking possibly a lot of people that are passed along or networked through Lara are basically…?”

Maras interrupted Bergy.

“Well, you and me are going to disagree on Lara,” she said. “I like Lara…. If it came down to it, and I had to trust someone with something, I would actually trust her.”

A plan to order the National Guard to shut down Congress

Caron’s background remains murky. In one of the few public interviews with him that is available, Caron was identified in a March 2018 story that aired on the far-right network One America News as “the spokesman for JTF MAGA, the collection of veteran members of the intelligence, law enforcement and military communities dedicated to exposing the dark secrets of the Deep State.” The “team” page for a website that houses reports by JTF MAGA, including one proclaiming retired Lt. General Michael Flynn’s innocence and another that disputes claims about collusion between the Trump campaign — has at various times included photos of Caron and Veterans for America First co-founders Joshua Macias and Vlad Lemets.

When Caron arrived in DC, Wince and Bergy viewed him as a replacement for Dennis Nathan Cain, a cybersecurity expert brought in to analyze the results of the 2020 election.

Cain told Raw Story that former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon recommended him to White House trade advisor Peter Navarro, who published a series of reports claiming without evidence that the election had been stolen. Cain said he worked on a three-man team that included another man named Harry Haury and a third person whom he declined to identify. Cain said he primarily worked with Phill Kline, a former Kansas attorney general who reportedly promoted a scheme to submit pro-Trump electors in the six swing states carried by Joe Biden.

Cain filed an expert report in a civil suit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court in Arizona to challenge the election results. Cain opined that based on his assessment that the election error rate in Arizona during the 2020 election failed to meet the standard set under the 2002 Help America Vote Act, the election result should not have been certified.

“I was specifically looking at the certification and accreditation of the system,” Cain told Raw Story. “I had no interest in looking at any of the technical aspects from the standpoint of whether they were hacked, because you can’t do that unless you have access to the machines.”

Cain told Raw Story that he and Caron met in DC at Caron’s request, and that Caron wanted to join his team. Cain said he declined Caron’s request because he had been working without compensation in DC for two months. Cain had set up a GoFundMe page, but it only covered about half the cost of their hotel bill at the Westin. By the time Caron approached him, Cain said he considered his work to be complete. He disbanded the team, and went home after Christmas.

Cain said he came to regret his meeting with Caron.

“He went out and wrote some emails; some of the people that were associated with me didn’t like that,” Cain said. “It kind of did some damage with some people that I was working with that didn’t care for him.”

After Cain left DC, his name appeared on a document arguing, among other things, that the states were not in compliance with the Help America Vote Act and concluding bizarrely that Trump had a “mandatory duty to immediately declare the 2020 election in violation” of the Constitution and declare Congress “illegitimate” as a prelude to ordering the National Guard to shut down Congress.

“President Donald J. Trump, to preserve our sovereign form of government, has the mandatory duty to immediately declare the 2020 election in violation of our United States Constitution and declare the 117th Congress illegitimate, then access and direct the National Guard already sent by the mayor, to prevent entry into their offices and the Capitol,” the document declared.

Entitled “Invincible Argument, the document was dated Jan. 4 and featured a dozen names, beginning with Caron and also including Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keepers general counsel Kellye SoRelle, Veterans for America First co-founder Joshua Macias and Latinos for Trump President Bianca Gracia. Eleven members of the Oath Keepers, including Rhodes, have been indicted for seditious conspiracy. Macias was arrested on weapons charges outside the Philadelphia Convention Center, where votes were being tabulated, on Nov. 5, 2020, and was present at the US Capitol on Jan. 6.

Jerome Corsi, who heavily promoted the false claim that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore was not qualified to serve as president, was also named on the document, and Corsi published it on his website on Jan. 5, the eve of the assault on the US Capitol.

Cain said he did not authorize his name to be used on the document.

“I am familiar with my name being on there,” he told Raw Story. “It was done without my permission. I don’t have any comment to give on what the legal ramifications of the system not being compliant with HAVA might be.”

Caron’s name also appeared at the bottom of the document’s Forward, and another section was credited to Caron and SoRelle.

On the same day Corsi published the “Invincible Argument” document, Caron was quoted in a story published by Vision Times News headlined, “Over 400 ex-intelligence officers have started investigating election fraud.” The story quoted Caron as saying, “The fraud was so massive and so blatant, despite what the mainstream media said, that we need to get this information out to the public.”

Caron could not be reached for this story, but he has told CNN that he was approached by two FBI agents at a hotel in Toronto last December. According to CNN, Caron said the agents told him they were investigating events that led up to the violence on Jan. 6 and that he sat down to speak with them about “key people” involved in the effort to overturn the election.

Rhodes, SoRelle, Macias and Gracia were all filmed in a meeting in a hotel parking garage with Proud Boys chairman Enrique Tarrio on Jan. 5, 2021. Tarrio has been charged with conspiracy, along with five other Proud Boys leaders, for his role in the Jan. 6 attack.

The “Invincible Argument” document” would form the basis of another lawsuit seeking to overturn the election, this one filed not by Powell and her team, but by SoRelle, the Oath Keepers’ general counsel.

A transcript of an Oath Keepers teleconference that took place on Nov. 9, 2020, shows that the militia group was working on a legal track even as they prepared to mobilize a tactical force at the US Capitol. Asked by Rhodes to update members on the “legal fight,” SoRelle mentioned Giuliani as heading up one of several legal teams working to overturn the election.

“And then you have the Giuliani pals, I guess, previewing the Campaign pod that’s trying to solve the mystery of the ballots,” SoRelle said. “So, I’ve been in communication. I obviously work the RNC version of it, and then I’m in — I like the Q crowd, they’re kind of fun, and then I’ve been meeting with the Campaign crowd.”

The lawsuit sputtered almost immediately when friction arose between SoRelle and her co-counsel, Paul M. Davis, over Caron’s involvement in the litigation.

In a February 2021 filing, Davis reported that he had “expressed concern to SoRelle that Bob seemed to have some sort of undue influence over the plaintiffs and was poisoning their thinking about the case strategy with suggestions of inclusion of what the whole team had previously agreed were frivolous legal claims (this has always been a case strictly about violations of election law and NOT a case about election fraud).”

Davis went on to suggest SoRelle was disclosing confidential attorney-client communications to Caron, who was not a plaintiff.

SoRelle responded, Davis reported with incredulity, that Caron had been “listening in on our comms.”

'Hillbilly spoof': How the team that pushed the 'Big Lie' in 2020 plotted together in Kentucky's 2019 election

When election night returns came in for the Kentucky election on Nov. 5, 2019, Matt Bevin, the Republican incumbent governor trailed Democratic challenger Andy Beshear by about 5,000 votes.

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A brash businessman who antagonized the state’s teachers, Bevin had gone into his reelection campaigns as one of the most unpopular governors in the country. But with Republicans prevailing in every single remaining statewide race, his supporters couldn’t believe it was possible for Bevin to lose.

One the day after the election, Bevin refused to concede, making baseless allegations to reporters, as the Courier Journal reported, “that absentee ballots were illegally counted, people were turned away from the polls, voting machines malfunctioned and ballots were stored in open boxes” — claims that were systematically refuted by state and local election officials.

By Saturday, with Bevin still refusing to concede, two far-right influencers jointly appeared on a podcast cross-published on their respective platforms to herald what sounded like an earth-shattering development.

“We have literally been given the motherlode of leaked documents from a whistleblower that appears to be someone who might be working inside the elections,” declared Millie Weaver, an Ohio-based media provocateur who was a correspondent for the conspiracy theory hub InfoWars at the time.

Weaver introduced Terpsehore “Tore” Maras, a pro-Trump podcaster who lived in North Dakota. Weaver said she and Maras had been on the phone the night before when she checked her email and discovered “that some whistleblower, anonymously, decided to send me hundreds of documents — hundreds — these documents are confirmed legitimate documents — we have official, like, ballots, Kentucky ballots, audit logs, you know, all this crazy information, bank transactions, checks, papers that have literally been taped back together that went through shredders. Somebody must have been doing a lot of work to compile all of this information. But this information looks like there’s significant amount of voter fraud going on in Kentucky.”

Indeed, someone had broken into Harp Enterprises, a Lexington-based company that supplies voting machines, and had accessed checks received by the company and other internal documents. Roger Baird, the company’s owner, told Raw Story he believes either a disgruntled former employee or someone associated with a losing campaign put a janitor up to stealing the documents.

But almost nothing about what the two women said about the documents — starting with Weaver’s claim that Harp Enterprises “runs the electronic voting machines for the entire state of Kentucky” — was true. Harp Enterprises, which exclusively purchases voting machines manufactured by Hart InterCivic, services only some of the precincts in Kentucky’s 120 counties. Voters in Jefferson County, which includes Louisville and holds the largest share of Democratic voters, vote on ES&S machines.

Maras claimed that the documents included hand-written notes showing employees coaching each other on “how to manipulate the votes.” And based on a financial transaction from a company with foreign ownership, Maras concluded, “You can’t get any more smoking gun with regards to foreign-entity meddling, let’s say.”

Chagrined to see his private documents tweeted out and displayed on a video stream, Baird showed Weaver’s video presentation to his banker.

“He was like, ‘This is like a hillbilly spoof,’” Baird recalled. “There was just enough little droplets of real information that you might scratch your head, and say, ‘Huh, maybe there is something there.’ When they started connected me to George Soros….” As he recounted the story, Baird’s voice trailed off in incredulity and he burst into laughter.

As the joint podcast crept into its second hour, Weaver noted with approval that her boss, Alex Jones, was in the chat watching her video.

“This is election fraud,” Maras said. “Kentucky was a dry run. In 2020, they’re coming for everything.”

“We need to blow the lid off this now before they steal the 2020 election,” Weaver agreed.

“Yeah, but look at the losers they’ve got running on the Democratic ticket,” Maras chimed in. She ticked through the list of Democratic presidential primary contenders, noting each candidate’s unappealing attributes and weaknesses, while assigning insulting nicknames to them, before concluding with Trumpian logic that none of them could win fair and square.

“So, what they’re gonna do is they’re gonna steal it,” Maras concluded.

Weaver also attended a press conference at the state Capitol in Frankfurt, and spread many of the same baseless allegations to her followers in a livestream on Periscope. Weaver could not be reached for comment for this story.

The Kentucky election in 2019 was a harbinger, but in a different sense than Maras likely intended.

Many of the same players who would later turn up in Washington, DC after the 2020 election and promote a battery of conspiracy theories falsely claiming the election was stolen were also involved in investigating election fraud claims in Kentucky, according to at least two people involved.

Joshua Merritt, a Dallas area information technology consultant, indicated in a Twitter thread last month that Patrick Byrne, the former CEO “contracted” the Texas-based company Allied Security Operating Group to work on the Kentucky election.

In response to an account with the username @AmericanRE15 who asked him to confirm that he was saying “Byrne contracted you guys to work on the Bevins [sic] fraud in f***ing 2019,” Merritt replied, “Bingo….”

He added in a separate tweet: “And then there are all the people we briefed after 2018… We investigated Bevins case, Florida, Dallas, Maryland… And others.”

Josh Merritt responds to a question on a Twitter thread by @AmericanRE15 on April 30Screengrab

Merritt could not be reached for this story, and he blocked this reporter on Twitter during the reporting of this story.

Russell Ramsland, the founder of Allied Security Operating Group, began pushing election fraud claims after Democrats made gains in Texas during the 2018 mid-term elections, and would go on to push specious claims about the 2020 election on Lou Dobbs’ show on Fox Business Network, and then file a declaration alongside Maras to support federal lawsuits seeking to overturn the election.

Weaver also confirmed Allied Security Operations Group’s involvement in the Kentucky election, which has not been previously reported.

“I went down to Kentucky to go hand-deliver an SD drive or a USB stick to Governor Bevin himself at his office,” Weaver recounted in a December 2020 livestream. “And I also met with a group called ASOG. So, there’s this group called Allied Security Operations Group, and they’re heading a lot of the election fraud efforts that have been happening.”

Weaver said in the same livestream that she had provided the documents to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and described working with Allied Security Operations Group.

“Yeah, we met with them,” she said. “We essentially went over the information. They already had seemed to have gotten it, which means they probably got it from Grassley or something.”

Messages to Grassley’s office seeking clarification on whether the senator received the documents or anyone from his office passed them on to Ramsland were not returned before press time.

In November 2020, Weaver, Maras and Weaver’s partner Gavin Wince came to Washington, DC as the nucleus of a conspiracy-happy group that would come to be known as “Team America.” Patrick Bergy, who was also part of the group, previously told Raw Story that Byrne paid for their hotel rooms at the Westin Arlington Gateway hotel in northern Virginia.

Merritt also indicated in the April 30 Twitter thread that Byrne and Maras together connected with Allied Security Operations Group during the efforts to uncover fraud in Kentucky. In response to a question from the @AmericanRE15 account on whether he had disclosed that he worked with Maras on the Kentucky fraud claim, Merritt replied, “She was brought in with Byrne when we were working with them through ASOG.”

Raw Story could not independently confirm Byrne’s involvement in the Kentucky 2019 election. Byrne and Maras have previously said in a podcast published two months ago that they did not formally meet until November 2020.

“The first time that I think of myself as meeting Tore, we were in a restaurant in Alexandria; it was a week or two after the election,” Byrne said in the podcast. “She was with some people. I was with some people. Somebody took me over to meet her people. Boom boom boom. When I shook hands with her, after looking at her or listening to her for a few seconds, I said, ‘Gee, I’ve met you somewhere, haven’t I?’ And she actually turned away, didn’t answer. I thought it was funny.”

Byrne went on to share a cryptic story about how a couple of nights later Maras made an admission to him that suggested she had spied on him eight years earlier. According to Maras, she had been Byrne’s “waitress” at a restaurant in London in 2012 and he was her “target.”

Neither Byrne nor Maras could be reached for comment about Merritt’s assertion that they worked together on the 2019 election in Kentucky.

As previously reported by Raw Story and ProPublica, Byrne has described tasking a group of intelligence professionals with interviewing Maras after she submitted a declaration to support lawsuits filed by Sidney Powel that sought to overturn the 2020 election. Byrne said the team that interviewed Maras concluded that “we cannot rely on her for anything factual because we caught her in too many lies and exaggerations.”

Despite Byrne’s determination in December 2020 that Maras was not credible, the two continue to appear together on podcasts, where they promote election fraud conspiracy theories and praise one another.

Maras and Weaver have both said they worked with Phill Kline, a former Kansas attorney general on examining alleged election fraud in Kentucky. In December 2020, Kline reportedly promoted a scheme to submit pro-Trump electors in the six swing states carried by Joe Biden, talking up the plan on far-right media outlets like One America News and former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s podcast.

Weaver mentioned Kline’s involvement in the Kentucky election in her December 2020 livestream, and Maras said she worked with Kline “in 2019 on the election fraud in Kentucky” in a podcast earlier this year. Kline could not be reached for comment for this story.

Warning signs in Kentucky

“I had said back then and have said all along that 2019 was a mini version of what potentially could happen in 2020, and did happen,” Joshua A. Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky, told Raw Story. “I said then that we need to pay attention to what happened in Kentucky for fear of that happening on a larger scale with the presidential election.”

Douglas said he sees one critical difference in how Bevin’s baseless fraud claims played out in 2019, compared to the firehose of the spigot of falsehoods issued by President Trump that culminated in the attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. After the 2019 election, Douglas said, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell issued an ultimatum to Bevin to present evidence of voting problems or concede. In contrast, McConnell waited for more than a month after the 2020 election as Senate majority leader before congratulating Joe Biden on his win.

For conspiracy theorists, Kentucky in 2019 was a ripe target.

“Twenty-nineteen is an off-election year, so you could really focus on Kentucky,” said Roger Baird, the Harp Enterprises owner. “You get a lot of attention all of a sudden when you’re the only one having an election. We get more attention in an off-election year than we do in a big year like 2020.”

Similar to the feverish claims about election fraud in the 2020 election, Maras’ theory about the Harp Enterprises documents quickly expanded to include claims about official betrayal to explain why no one was being prosecuted.

“If you had asked me, I would tell you: Everyone in Kentucky government is guilty,” Maras said during the Nov. 9, 2019 podcast. “And maybe this is why the secretary of state is like, ‘Oh, just leave it alone.’ Yeah, leave it alone because everyone’s gonna be going to jail.”

Maras said she called the Kentucky State Police hoping that she could bring the documents to the attention of Governor Bevin. She said a detective called her back and tried to get her to explain how she obtained the documents. A spokesperson told Raw Story he couldn’t confirm that the agency received a complaint about the matter.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s office, which would typically investigate allegations of election fraud or other criminal misconduct, did not respond to inquiries.

Baird told Raw Story he asked Homeland Security to try to determine how his company’s internal documents were stolen, but they never reached any conclusions.

In the weeks following Bevin’s loss in Kentucky, Maras continued to refine a fanciful theory of electronic vote-swapping.

In 2019 and 2020, according to the Washington Post, Ramsland and Merritt from Allied Security Operations Group appeared on a podcast called “Economic War Room” and claimed that hackers or rogue operators could direct vote data to a remote location and manipulate it. During his media appearances, Ramsland also circulated baseless claims about Scytl, a Spain-based company that provides election-night reporting services, asserting that “they’re housing all of our vote, and they’re doing it in an insecure fashion,” the Post reported.

Maras appears to have been exposed to the same baseless claims about Scytl in November 2020, roughly the same period when Merritt and Weaver indicated Allied Security Operations Group was looking at the Kentucky election.

In a podcast two weeks after the 2019 election, Maras spent an hour offering a breezy discourse on how various election technology companies supposedly carry out electronic vote manipulation, asserting that “the Hart-Intercivic software” was “working together” with Scytl.

“So, this phase is shuffling ballots, mixing them,” Maras said, adopting the professorial air of an adept instructor breaking down a complex formula for undergrad students. “Picture a bag of Scrabble tiles, and you’re mixing them. That’s basically what they do to all your votes. And during this mixing phase is where you can swap a vote for some other vote.”

In a previous podcast, on Nov. 10, Maras had acknowledged that “elections aren’t my thing,” and admitted she knew little about how voting machines work. Now, on Nov. 19, Maras was saying that it had taken her a week to figure out what a highly compensated cybersecurity contractor in northern Virginia who was paid to safeguard US elections would have known for at least 10 years.

What Maras missed — and what election deniers in 2020 missed and continue to miss as they go around the country sewing doubt about the election system — is that vote data that is reported on election night is separate from the votes that are tallied up and certified by local and state elections officials.

In Kentucky, two poll workers — one Republican and one Democrat — hand-deliver a tape displaying a printout of the aggregate vote and a media card in a sealed bag to the county election office. A duplicate of the tape is displayed at the polling place as a record of the precinct tally. At the county office, the media card is inserted into a machine that tallies the votes from across the county. Like the voting machines, the machine that tallies the votes is not connected to the internet. To ensure that the votes remain secure, an election worker uses a clean thumb drive to pull the data off the tally machine and then walks it over to a networked computer to upload it to the election-night reporting site.

“Our job is to make sure nothing touches the computer that does the tally,” Baird said.

“Common sense tells you that if you hook up your voting machines to the internet, you’re plumb dumb,” he added.

References to Scytl and foreign servers purportedly housing votes would prove to be a ubiquitous feature in declarations sworn by Maras and Merritt for the lawsuits filed in November and December 2020, along with video documentaries and livestreams by Weaver during the same period. Maras’ 37-page declaration, executed on Nov. 29, 2020, alone contains 23 references to Scytl.

Ensconced in Washington, Weaver addressed her followers on Periscope around the same time, outlining her qualifications to be part of an elite team churning up dubious evidence to aid in the effort to overturn the election.

“I want to give you guys a little bit of background as to why I know what I know and I’m in the situation where right here where I’m even being invited to some of the groups that are heading these efforts, where you see people like Phill Kline, and you see people like Sidney Powell and these other people out here heading these movements,” Weaver said. “Why would they care what little Millie has to say?... So, I’ve been making these videos for over a year now, talking about the plan that the Democrats and really the establishment has had to throw Trump out of office, to get rid of him.”

‘Your words did matter’: Insider calls on Lin Wood to take responsibility for provocative January 6th tweets

Lin Wood, a high-profile lawyer involved in the litigation seeking to overturn the 2020 election who unleashed a series of incendiary tweets leveling accusations of treason at Vice President Mike Pence, has vehemently insisted that his social media activity bears no connection with the attack on the US Capitol.

Wood received some pushback from Patrick Bergy, a former military contractor who is the primary source for the “ShadowGate” conspiracy theory, during Bergy’s podcast on Tuesday evening. Bergy was embedded with a group known as “Team America” in Washington, DC in late 2020 and early 2021 that worked to supply information geared towards overturning the election to the attorneys, including Wood, who were litigating the cases.

During his podcast on Tuesday evening, Bergy publicly responded to a statement by Wood to Raw Story, which was quoted in a recent story about his tweets.

Bergy read Wood’s statement aloud on his Twitch stream on Tuesday evening: “Please identify credible witnesses who state that they were inflamed by social media. You cannot.”

Then, Bergy responded: “I can.”

Bergy recalled being at the rally at the Ellipse that was headlined by President Trump and being greeted by Trump supporters who recognized him from the “ShadowGate” documentary, which was produced by former InfoWars correspondent Millie Weaver.

“These people who were coming up to and would recognize me were all of the people who have been deeply and did deeply follow — they were all the people who are entrenched in this,” Bergy said. “I can tell you without question, as someone who you could easily argue as a subject matter expert in social-media psychological warfare, that what he was doing was, in fact, whether intentional or unintentional being used by others in a tactical and coordinated fashion to help create what ended up being the riots on January 6th.

“Now, to what extent Lin Wood would have any knowledge of that I don’t know or can’t say,” Bergy added. “I’m kind of split on it the way he’s treated me. But I can say as a subject matter expert in this: ‘Yeah, Lin, your words did matter. Your words do matter.”

Wood insisted in an interview with Raw Story on Thursday that he “didn’t have anything to do with January 6th.”

“I’ve told you my tweets were patriotic,” he said. “I told you that I felt that Mike Pence — based on information given to me by Jon McGreevey, if it’s true — may have been involved in an act of treason in 2017. I have not made any comments about Mike Pence’s involvement in January 6th. So, I thought that on January 6th the election vote would not be certified and we would take our nation back. Because I feel like the election was illegal and had a multitude of irregularities in it. There’s nothing wrong with me feeling that way and expressing it. It’s First Amendment protected. I didn’t ask anyone to do anything.”

Bergy served as a signal support systems specialist in the US Army for seven months in 2007, including deployment to Afghanistan. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, Bergy worked on a classified operation in Iraq. In September 2008, he received a letter of recommendation from Maj. Bradford M. Burris, chief of the Interactive Internet Activities Branch in Baghdad, praising Bergy as someone who “possesses and exudes the highest levels of professionalism, technical competence, organizational management skills and critical thinking skills that I have seen in the twelve years that I have served as a member of the United States Army.” Bergy told Raw Story that one component of the project was utilizing information operations to unite Sunnis and Shias in opposition to al-Qaida in Iraq.

“Other people were working behind the scenes to amplify the things [Wood] was saying that did end up getting people ginned up and riled up to where they go into Congress and smash in the doors,” Bergy told Raw Story. “I’m saying that as a subject-matter expert in psychological warfare. That’s [Information Operations] 101. You’re targeting a specific group of individuals. You’re providing them with dubious information that instills fear that they’re about to lose the thing they love the most — our country, raising our hand and swearing the Pledge of Allegiance. These are patriots that would have given their lives, and some have fought overseas for our country. Lin Wood coming out and saying, ‘These people are trying to steal this country from you,’ that’s what contributed to the success of that operation.”

Wood noted in a phone interview with Raw Story that the Delaware Supreme Court issued an opinion in January that overturned a decision by a local judge to revoke an order allowing Wood to represent a client in defamation lawsuit in the state.

“The Delaware Supreme Court took the same — or some of the tweets you’re referring to — where a judge had ruled that I had somehow likely inspired January 6th — the Supreme Court of Delaware in a 5-0 decision said that the tweets don’t support the finding of the Delaware judge,” Wood told Raw Story. “So, a court has recognized that there’s no connection between my social media tweets and January the 6th.”

The state Supreme Court ruling faulted the local judge for linking Wood to “the traumatic events of January 6” without presenting any evidence or allowing Wood to respond. The Supreme Court ruled that the local judge’s finding that Wood’s tweets “incited the riots” was not justified considering the scope of the court action to determine whether Wood should be allowed to act as counsel in the case and considering the judicial record.

In a separate case, as previously reported by Raw Story, a federal judge in Michigan found that Wood and other attorneys listed as plaintiff’s co-counsel in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election “helped mold the predetermined narrative about election fraud by lodging this federal lawsuit based on evidence that they actively refused to investigate or question with the requisite level of professional skepticism — and this refusal was to ensure that the evidence conformed with the predetermined narrative (a narrative that has had dangerous and violent consequences).”

In his comments to Raw Story, Wood also denied responsibility for at least one of the tweets cited in previous reporting and suggested they might have come from a “fake” account. Wood’s Twitter account was suspended after Jan. 6, but his archived tweets under his username @LLinWood were retrieved by Raw Story from the Internet Archive.

Wood acknowledged that he has spoken to Bergy, but said he didn’t understand what he was saying.

“He’s been calling me, texting me for a period of time, and I’m just not interested in dealing with him,” Wood said. “People try to drag me into stuff sometimes, and I just have no desire sometimes to be drug into it.”

Bergy arrived in Washington, DC on Nov. 15, 2020, joining former InfoWars correspondent Millie Weaver and her partner Gavin Wince, along with Terpsehore Maras, who submitted a declaration that was used by Sidney Powell in two lawsuits filed by Sidney Powell that listed Wood as co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

Bergy described himself — along with Weaver and Wince — during his podcast on Tuesday as a “guest” of Patrick Byrne, who provided significant financing for the effort to overturn the election. Bergy has previously said that Byrne paid for his hotel for at least part of the time he was in Arlington, Va. working on election-related matters.

Bergy told Raw Story he sent an email to Powell to alert her to his concerns about “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander after Powell, Alexander and Wood appeared together at a Dec. 2, 2020 rally in Alpharetta, Ga. Powell, according to Bergy, responded succinctly: “Thank you for letting me know. Neither me nor Lin Wood were aware of that.”

Bergy said he also received a response from Wood when he raised a concern about his association with Alexander, and that Wood responded in writing that “the only time he had heard of or known” of Alexander was when Alexander introduced him to Nick Sandmann, the Kentucky teenager who is suing multiple media outlets for defamation related to their reporting on an interaction between him and a Native American man at the National Mall in 2019. Sandmann fired Wood from his legal team last year.

Last December, Wood wrote on his Telegram channel about having “received warnings tonight from several friends who tell me that a man named Patrick Bergy is posting threats of harm to me online. Apparently, this person Bergy has said that he is traveling to my home to harm me.” Wood mentioned in his message that his “security team is on heightened alert” and that he had three pit bulls on his property.

Shortly afterwards, he posted an update: “I spoke with Patrick Bergy. He struck me as a polite man who does not pose any threat to me. I apologize to him for inferences to the contrary that I received from third parties. Always better to be safe than sorry. My safety was not threatened by Patrick.”

Bergy has said that in the days leading up to Jan. 6, his primary objective was trying to get people to read his affidavit and a qui tam complaint he had filed in federal court arguing that psychological warfare weapons were being used to influence US elections.

“While all that was happening, I was in Washington, DC,” Bergy said on his podcast. “I was doing the fly-on-the-wall thing, and I was there as a guest of Patrick Byrne — Millie, Gavin. As all of this is going on, I’m watching, and you can ask anyone, I was not participating. In fact, many people — Millie, Gavin, Tore, everyone has openly claimed, ‘Oh, he didn’t do nothing, he wasn’t doing nothing.’ I’ve openly claimed that. I was there observing.”

Referencing Wood’s tweets on Jan. 6, Bergy said, “Science tells us in the psy-op community that doing and targeting exactly as I witnessed what happened on January 6th involving the people that you, with over a million followers were engaging with, legitimately was part of what resulted in the deaths of Ashli Babbitt and others. I’m not gonna sugar-coat that.

“I’m not necessarily going to say that that’s like a sin or — but, no, you gotta own these things Lin,” Bergy continued. “Your actions caused a lot of people a lot of pain. I’ve personally never witnessed Lin Wood honestly and with sincerity and humbleness acknowledge his responsibility.”

Revealed: White House aide relayed information from Giuliani research team to Trump during campaign to overturn 2020 election

This article was paid for by Raw Story subscribers. Not a subscriber? Try us and go ad-free for $1. Prefer to give a one-time tip? Click here.During the frantic period between the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol, a young White House aide named Garrett Ziegler served as a conduit of information from a network of teams led by lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell to President Trump, as the operatives generated unfounded and specious claims in an attempt to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election.

Ziegler has spoken openly about using his pass to let attorney Sidney Powell and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn into the White House for a Dec. 18, 2020 meeting with President Trump and contributing to a report authored by his boss, trade advisor Peter Navarro, that was used to undermine confidence in the election. But Raw Story has confirmed that Ziegler played a much more significant role than has been previously understood. Working directly with a team that reported to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, Ziegler helped create a seamless information chain that was mobilized in the effort to overturn the election.

As previously reported, Ziegler let Powell and Flynn into the White House for an impromptu meeting with Trump, in which the trio reportedly urged the president to invoke the National Emergencies Act so that he could use the National Guard to seize ballots and appoint Powell as a special counsel to investigate the election. Patrick Byrne, the former CEO, has said that he contacted Ziegler to arrange the meeting. The visit caught Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone by surprise, according to Ziegler, and Ziegler’s visitor access privileges were subsequently revoked.

The following day, Trump tweeted a link to the report authored by Navarro produced in collaboration with Ziegler, while calling his supporters to come to Washington, DC on Jan. 6 for a “wild rally.”

Ziegler also said he attempted to arrange a separate meeting between Powell and Trump, Raw Story has found.

“I walked Sidney over to the residence one night to try to get the president a binder full of evidence,” Ziegler asserted in a YouTube interview after he had left the White House. Powell was blocked from meeting with the president, he said, contending that Trump’s more cautious staff prevented the president from taking bolder action.

Ziegler disclosed on his Telegram channel last month that he received an invitation to speak with the staff and members of the January 6th Committee. The House cited Navarro, Ziegler’s former boss, for criminal contempt for defying subpoenas from the select committee and referred him to the US Department of Justice for prosecution on April 6.

While gathering information and drafting the Navarro report, Ziegler worked with a research team that reported to Giuliani, according to Giuliani associate Michael Trimarco. A Long Island businessman with a background in finance and tech, Trimarco told far-right conspiracy theorist Ann Vandersteel in a recent video that he had been helping Giuliani analyze the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop in October 2020, and then hastily switched over to researching alleged election fraud after the election.

The Westin hotel in Arlington, Va. served as the initial hub for the teams collecting affidavits to support the legal challenges, Raw Story has found. Those teams promoted a fount of specious claims that would fuel the violent effort to prevent Congress from certifying the election. Byrne said in a video posted earlier this year that Trimarco “rented some rooms” for Powell “and a few other people” at the Westin. The video was removed from Byrne’s channel on the alternative video streaming platform Rumble, but a copy was republished by the news site One News Page, crediting Rumble as the original source.

“All of this would have fallen apart on that side of the river had it not been for [Trimarco] showing up and not just with a credit card, but trying to provide some adult supervision,” Byrne said. “He’s a real champion, and the MAGA crowd should know that when push came to shove, this fellow came up out of nowhere and was very valuable in helping corral all these forces and keep things from just spinning apart in the early days.”

In mid-November 2020, Powell, Flynn and Byrne decamped from the Westin to the Tomotley Plantation in South Carolina at the invitation of defamation attorney Lin Wood in mid-November. The team led by Powell and Flynn at Tomotley received widespread coverage. Less attention has been focused on a second team that stayed behind. Ziegler was a frequent presence at the Westin, which he dubbed the “cyber-patriots,” Trimarco said.

The team at the Westin “did have access to Garrett at the White House, they did get tours, and they did work with Garrett extensively,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “I know he did — and he was working diligently with these folks to get as much information as quickly as we could into the right hands.”

Ziegler worked with Giuliani team to get information to Trump

Following in the footsteps of his older cousin Ron Ziegler, onetime press secretary for President Richard Nixon, Garrett Ziegler landed an internship at the White House as a college student in 2017. He joined the staff of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy under Navarro two years later. Prior to the election, Ziegler said he worked on reports touting “the Trump economic record” in sectors like mining and manufacturing in swing states. Beginning around Nov. 15 — roughly the same time Powell moved her team from the Westin to the Tomotley Plantation — Ziegler said he and three other aides started helping Navarro compile reports casting doubt on the outcome of the election.

“We prepared — Peter gave direction,” Ziegler told David Clements, a former New Mexico State University professor who has amassed a large following on Telegram among election deniers and anti-vaccine adherents. “He laid it out, what his vision was. And our job was to get the first draft.”

In his account of his time working on the Giuliani election team at the Westin, Trimarco told Vandersteel he was impressed by Ziegler’s energy and found him to be mature beyond his years.

“I mean, this guy — talk about people really working 24-7,” Trimarco said. “He would come around at 11, midnight, 1, after he’s done at the White House, to get information. I saw him come by one or two times. But he was working with a few key people on our team to get the information.”

In the tangled web of relationships among the operatives working to overturn the election at the Westin, Tomotley and across the country, Trimarco was responsible for making sure crucial information reached Giuliani.

“If you wanted to get information from Sidney’s camp, at least at the very beginning, over to Rudy’s, you’d come through me,” Trimarco said. “That was the reason I was at a lot of these meetings — to get information over to Rudy, because he represented the president, for real. And we weren’t physically in the same location.”

While the “cyber-patriots” team was headquartered at the Westin, according to Trimarco, Giuliani has said he was working out of the Trump Hotel around the time of the election and then moved to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Shortly after Christmas, Giuliani said he moved to the Willard Hotel. Giuliani’s statements about his whereabouts during the period he was challenging the election on Trump’s behalf come from a deposition for a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems employee Eric Coomer.

Giuliani did not respond to multiple emails and voicemails to his lawyers seeking comment..

Ziegler was working so closely with the team at the Westin that information often reached Trump before it reached him, Trimarco said.

“Ironically, a lot of the stuff that got back to Rudy didn’t end up coming through me,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “Because once that connection was made, Garrett would give it to Peter, and Peter would give it to the president, and then it would circle back to Rudy.”

Ziegler told Raw Story he would respond to questions for comment, but didn’t send responses by press time.

Trimarco comes from a politically connected family in New York. His involvement in politics long predates the effort to overturn the 2020 election. During a New York state court trial to decide a complaint brought by Trimarco against his former business partners, witnesses testified that Trimarco took part in a meeting with then-Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) in 2002 to discuss a venture that would theoretically capture and store biometric data to properly identify passengers at Long Island’s MacArthur Airport. Trimarco’s former partners accused him of failing to talk about their business during the meeting and instead promoting a business owned by his family.

Trimarco claimed in his March interview with Vandersteel that “the feds are coming after me” related to a matter involving Cambridge Analytica — the British consulting firm that used Facebook data to micro-target voters to the advantage of the Trump campaign in 2016. He further asserted that Giuliani was representing him in the matter. It is unclear exactly what Trimarco’s relationship to Cambridge Analytica is, but a Fast Company story linked Cambridge Analytica to members of the Ergen family, who own Dish Network, and court records indicate that Trimarco was involved in marketing and distribution work for Dish Network in 2010.

In 2018, Trimarco sued Dish Network scion Chase Ergen, and he was represented by a New York City lawyer named Howard Kleinhendler.

Trimarco told Vandersteel that he was analyzing the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop for Giuliani in October 2020. Kleinhendler allowed him to come by his law office to print out pages from the device. The effort to mine the laptop for information that could damage the Biden campaign pivoted to generating baseless election fraud theories once it became apparent Trump was going to lose.

“When everything went south after election night and Howard was on the phone with me right away — ‘How can I help? Can I work on this? I want to help the cause,’” Trimarco recalled. The next day, Trimarco said Kleinhendler showed up at the Westin ready to go to work. Kleinhendler went on to file an election suit as Sidney Powell’s co-counsel in Arizona, and currently represents Powell in defamation suits brought by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic.

Despite multiple attempts, Kleinhendler could not be reached for comment.

In his interview with Vandersteel, Trimarco recalled a meeting that took place at the Westin shortly after the election that included Kleinhendler and Powell. Two other men who attended the meeting — retired Army Col. Phil Waldron and Texas businessman Russell Ramsland — explained “their theories on how the system was hacked,” Trimarco said.

Ziegler maintains that during his time in the White House he was outspoken in his advocacy for Trump to take bold action to prevent the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

“I was telling whoever would listen to me in the White House: ‘Let’s just go look at the ballots. We don’t have to do it. Have the National Guard in Georgia do it,’” Ziegler told an interviewer, outlining a proposal similar to the one Powell, Flynn and Byrne pitched to President Trump at the White House meeting.

In late December 2020, Ziegler said he was “still holding out hope that some of the advice my boss was giving [Trump] that we needed to do something about this would actually get done, that he would quote-unquote cross the Rubicon…. But he didn’t do that.”

By then, the ceaseless drumbeat of unfounded claims that the vote had been electronically altered by foreign powers had come to be accepted as truth by Trump’s supporters. Outraged by what they considered treason by lawmakers, state officials and judges who thwarted the president’s attempt to cling to power, they took matters into their own hands. On Jan. 6, 2021, the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and forced Congress to delay certification of the electoral vote. The vote was ultimately certified and Biden was confirmed as the next president.

Proud Boy target of federal search warrant: ‘Main operating theater’ should be front of Capitol

Federal investigators obtained a search warrant for a Pennsylvania man allegedly designated by Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio as “upper tier leadership” in an encrypted message group set up for planning for the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol by the far-right street-brawling group.

LNP/Lancaster Online reported on Saturday that the Pennsylvania man subject to the search warrant, who is also identified as “Person 3” in a conspiracy indictment against Tarrio and five other Proud Boys, is John Charles Stewart aka Johnny Blackbeard, of Carlisle, Pa. The government also obtained a warrant to search the home of Proud Boy Jeremy Bertino in Belmont, NC. Federal agents raided Bertino’s home on March 8, the same day that Tarrio was arrested in Miami.

The warrants were disclosed in a motion filed by the government on March 7 to temporarily seal the indictment against Tarrio and his five co-defendants. The government requested that the indictment remain under seal “so that Tarrio and his two co-conspirators are not alerted of the existence of this indictment until Tarrio has been arrested and the related search warrants have been executed.”

The government warned that premature disclosure of the indictment could “affect the integrity of the investigation by causing alleged conspirators and witnesses to destroy evidence and/or hinder the ability of the government to safely arrest Tarrio and locate his two co-conspirators — who reside in different states and who are alleged in the indictment to have advocated for the use of force to obstruct the certification of the electoral college vote.”

The motion was unsealed, along with the indictment, on March 8.

Although Stewart has not been arrested, the indictment describes him as playing an integral role in the Ministry of Self-Defense, a closely vetted chapter described by Tarrio as a “national rally planning committee” for the events of Jan. 6, 2021. According to the government, Stewart and Bertino were added to the original MOSD Leaders Group encrypted chat by Tarrio on Dec. 20, 2020, along with Ethan Nordean, Joe Biggs, Zach Rehl and Charles Donohoe, who are charged with conspiracy alongside Tarrio. Later, Tarrio allegedly created an encrypted messaging group called the MOSD Prospect Group to vet Proud Boys for the Jan. 6 operation.

On Dec. 29, Tarrio posted a message to the MOSD Prospect Group to notify prospective members of a virtual meeting the following day to explain how the operation would work, according to the government. Tarrio’s message instructed prospects that the MOSD “will have a top-down structure,” adding that “if that’s something you’re not comfortable with” they should not bother attending the meeting. The government also alleges that Tarrio told prospects that the “upper-tier leadership” of the MOSD would consist of a three-person operations section led by Stewart, Rehl, who was the president of the Philadelphia chapter, and one other person not identified in the indictment.

As early as Jan. 3, Proud Boys discussed attacking the Capitol in the MOSD Members Group, according to the indictment. The government alleges that an unidentified member asked, “What would they do [if] 1 million patriots stormed and took the capital building. Shoot into the crowd? I think not.”

“They would do nothing because they can do nothing,” Stewart reportedly responded.

LNP/Lancaster Online reported that the newspaper reached Stewart’s wife on Saturday, but she said her husband was not available and hung up the phone.

The indictment indicates that Stewart played a critical role in developing the plan for the Proud Boys’ assault on the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“I mean, the main operating theater should be out in front of the House of Representatives,” Stewart allegedly said in a voice note in the MOSD Leaders Group on Jan. 3, according to the indictment. “It should be out in front of the Capitol building. That’s where the vote is taking place and all of the objection. So, we can ignore the rest of these stages and sh*t and plan the operations based around the front entrance to the Capitol building. I strongly recommend you use the national mall and not Pennsylvania avenue though. It’s a wide-open space, you can see everything coming from all angles.”

The next morning, according to the government, Tarrio posted a voice note in the MOSD Leaders Group.

“I didn’t hear this voice note until now,” he said. “You want to storm the Capitol.”

Richard Schwetz, a former Proud Boy from Pennsylvania, and Asher Meza, a member of the Miami chapter, told LNP/Lancaster Online that Stewart was not in Washington, DC on Jan. 6 because he was in the hospital dealing with a medical issue. Bertino has also said he was not in DC during the storming of the Capitol because he was recuperating from a stab wound sustained during a previous rally on Dec. 12.

Even though Stewart was not present, the Proud Boys assault of the Capitol on Jan. 6 unfolded much the way Stewart had allegedly proposed.

The Proud Boys mustered at the Washington Monument on the National Mall at about 10 a.m. on Jan. 6, and 200 to 300 members marched to the Capitol before President Trump spoke at the Ellipse. At around 12:53 p.m., Nordean, Biggs and Rehl led the group to the First Street pedestrian entrance near Peace Monument. Ryan Samsel, another Pennsylvania man, spoke briefly to Biggs and then advanced on a line of Capitol police officers manning a barricade. The rioters quickly overwhelmed the police line, and the crowd with the Proud Boys at its core poured onto the Capitol lawn. At 2:13 p.m., Dominic Pezzola, a Proud Boy from upstate New York, used a stolen police riot shield to bash out a window, allowing the first members of the mob to enter the Capitol building.

Camped outside DC, uneasy truckers paralyzed by paranoia vow to stay until demands met

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HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Thousands of angry conservative supporters of the truckers convoy rallied at a speedway in rural Maryland 60 miles outside of the Capital Beltway on Saturday evening, torn between the imperative for militant action to reject COVID measures and the recognition that disruption will likely result in legal repercussions.

Addressing supporters filling the stands at Hagerstown Speedway, organizer Brian Brase said leaders “are currently right now working on another location that when we move to puts us within just a few miles of the Beltway,” while imploring them not to go into the District of Columbia.

“They are waiting for us to show up, and it’s a trap,” Brase said.

Brase said organizers expected to hold meetings with members of Congress at the new location near the Beltway, adding, “We will not leave until we get what we ask for.” He listed a number of demands that are unlikely to be met by the current Congress under Democratic leadership, but will likely provide talking points for the Republicans’ goal of regaining control of the legislative branch during this year’s midterm elections.

“That’s why we don’t go anywhere, sir, until they actually start to do something,” Brase said, responding to a man who shouted out that lawmakers are “liars.” “That’s why we sit there in their backyard and we wait until they legitimately drop the state of emergency, they drop the vaccine mandates, and they begin the process of bipartisan investigations… to find out the transparent version of the pandemic’s origins, and ask who is responsible for screwing this up so badly.”

From a practical standpoint, Brase urged rallygoers to extend their hotel stays in Hagerstown through Sunday night. During his speech, Brase invited supporters to a meeting at the speedway at 8 a.m. on Sunday to discuss plans for the day. The Washington Post reported late Saturday that Brase told the newspaper the convoy will circle the Beltway twice on Sunday; Brase did not mention the plan during his remarks at the speedway on Saturday evening.

The leadership of the convoy is not unanimous on the tactical decision to stay out of the District of Columbia.

Before Brase pleaded with supporters to stay out of DC, another organizer, Mike Landis vowed: “My truck with that flag will go down Constitution Avenue.” In response, the crowd broke into a chant of “USA! USA! USA!”

Leigh Dundas, an antivaccination lawyer who played a key role in assembling the convoy, also warned against going into DC in a statement issued on Saturday. On March 3, an admin for the People’s Convoy posted a statement on the official Telegram channel indicating that the group had “cut ties” with Dundas’ organization, Freedom Fighter Nation, and would “no longer be affiliated with” her. The statement also said, “We only have like-minded individuals in our organization and are continually rooting out people that do not have the best interest of the convoy in mind.”

In a statement posted on the Freedom Fighter Nation website on Saturday that appears to replicate a letter sent from Dundas to Brase, Landis and two other organizers, Dundas wrote: “Gentlemen, I feel it is my duty to reiterate to you that to the extent that you are participating in a convoy whose final destination is Washington, DC proper, the Beltway, or areas quite proximal to these destinations or roadways, you are making an immeasurable mistake. The goodwill and strength of the message that has been built will be eviscerated, and more importantly, shutting down transportation routes whether intentionally or accidentally in the Washington, DC area will undoubtedly put people’s lives in danger.”

A note attached to the statement indicated that the letter was written in the late evening of March 2 and early morning hours of March 3 “after receipt of information,” but was not sent to the organizers until March 4 — after the People’s Convoy had officially cut ties with her.

“Any escalation of a situation between the People’s Convoy (and other participants) and law enforcement agencies and/or the National Guard (should any escalation occur), could rapidly proceed to harrowing proportions, and leave a lasting stain on this movement and you gentlemen in particular,” the statement continued.

The statement authored by Dundas on the Freedom Fighter Nation is also attributed to Ray Alexander, who is described as a “former Naval commander.” According to a footnote attached to the statement, Alexander “did briefly continue onward volunteering his time as the advance team (between Wednesday evening and this Friday morning), in an effort to transfer the baton smoothly on the logistics and venue-sourcing front.”

Adding further confusion about the alleged differences that led to the parting, Dundas’ personal assistant, Maureen Steele, has remained involved with the convoy, and spoke at the rally at Hagerstown Speedway on Saturday evening.

Josh Yoder, an airline pilot who has been speaking at the nightly rallies held by the People’s Convoy, also cautioned against going into DC.

“I can tell you that right now as I speak there are traps being laid in DC,” Yoder said during the rally on Saturday evening. “I’ve been on the phone today with federal agents in DC. And I am pleading with all of you: We cannot go into the District of Columbia. It cannot happen. They are telling me anyone who comes in there with the convoy is probably going to be detained. There’s going to be big problems. I’m asking you: Please keep this peaceful. Keep it law-abiding. And do not go into the District of Columbia. I’m begging you.”

Organizers are also worried about bad actors within their own ranks. On Saturday afternoon, right-wing provocateurs Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were kicked out of the speedway grounds after trying to mobilize people to go to DC that day.

“Right now we need to stand together even more than we have this entire journey,” Brase said during the rally on Saturday evening. “It starts with policing ourselves. There are many here tonight that probably shouldn’t be here, if you know what I mean. Those of you that are here that fall in that category, you know exactly who you are. But guess what? So do I.”

With COVID restrictions easing as case counts drop, the complaints voiced by convoy participants have expanded into a full panoply of conservative grievances, including anger about inflation, opposition to government overreach in general, and lack of faith in President Biden’s leadership on foreign policy.

In a segment for former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s podcast, a trucker identified as “Stan” said the convoy participants want to go back to an earlier time that was somehow more free.

“Things that have happened in this country in the last year — we just want to go back to the way it was before the COVID stuff,” Stan said. “Personally, me, I’d like to go back before 9/11, the Patriot Act. Things like that. It’s just very tyrannical type stuff. It’s government overreach. And that’s what we’re all about. Sure, the mask things and the shots and all this, they’re the… easy thing to talk about, but it’s all the other things behind the scenes…. We have freedom. They’re trying to take it away, and we’re gonna stop ’em. We’re gonna take our freedom back to where it was before.”

Following the speeches at the speedway, supporters retreated to the parking lot where they prepared to unfurl a giant American flag. The air was charged with anger and celebration as a row of rigs revved their engines and blasted their horns, with fireworks streaking into the sky. Supporters facing the rigs enthusiastically waved signs and chanted, “Let’s go Brandon,” a euphemism for “F*ck Joe Biden.”

Near the entrance to the speedway, a young man held up a cell phone and filmed the scene, exclaiming, “There must be thousands of people here. This is what it looks like when America stands up.”

Vehicles were scattered around the parking lot in random configurations as rallygoers held cell phones aloft in the dark to record the spectacle. A volunteer directing traffic at the entrance yelled angrily at a van driver attempting to leave the premises and at a man driving a flatbed truck who was attempting to turn into the driveway. Both failed to heed directions before eventually yielding. Pickup trucks sped down National Pike, a two-lane highway, with flags fluttering in the wind, as pedestrians carefully picked their way along the shoulder packed with cars.

A young man from a truck called out, “F*ck you, Biden!”

It was a cheerful greeting to compatriots, albeit strangers, and the throng of people walking to their cars responded in kind, hooting in agreement.

Truckers convoy organizer Brian Brase, 3-5-22

Trump’s fake Arizona electors got the green light from a scholar with ties to major conservative groups

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When Republican lawmakers in Arizona convened in December 2020 to forward an alternate slate of electors to Congress in a bid to overturn the election of Joe Biden, they were acting on the advice of a little known conservative constitutional scholar with ties to American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, and Federalist Society member.

The role played by Rob Natelson, a former University of Montana law professor and Federalist Society member who serves on ALEC’s board of scholars, in guiding the development of the alternate electoral slate in Arizona has been previously reported, but has received little attention to date.

The Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol recently issued subpoenas to alternate electors in seven states, including Nancy Cottle and Lorraine B. Pellegrino, two of the 11 electors from Arizona. The subpoenas compel Cottle and Pellegrino to produce documents relevant to the investigation by Feb. 11 and to appear for deposition on Feb. 16. Signed by the committee chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the subpoenas notified Cottle and Pellegrino that the committee is “seeking information about your role and participation in the purported slate of electors casting votes for Donald Trump and, to the extent relevant, your role in the events of January 6, 2021.”

Two state attorneys general have referred the alternate electoral slates to the US Justice Department for prosecution. After evaluating whether to the bring state charges against the alternate electors in her state, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she referred the matter to the US Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Michigan on Jan. 13.

“This is part of a much bigger conspiracy, and our hope is that the federal authorities at the Department of Justice and United States Attorney General Merrick Garland will take this in coordination with all the other information they’ve received and make an evaluation as to what charges these individuals might face,” Nessel told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. “I can think of forgery of a public record for the purpose of defrauding the United States or conspiracy to commit an offense to defraud the United States.”

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has also reportedly referred the matter to federal prosecutors.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco confirmed that the US Justice Department is reviewing what she termed the “fraudulent elector certifications” during a Jan. 25 interview with CNN.

“Our prosecutors are looking at those, and I can’t say anything more on ongoing investigations,” she said.

Chairman Thompson said in a formal statement accompanying the subpoenas that the Select Committee “is seeking information about attempts in multiple states to overturn the results of the 2020 election, including the planning and coordination of efforts to send false slates of electors to the National Archives. We believe the individuals we have subpoenaed today have information about how these so-called alternate electors met and who was behind that scheme.”

Kelly Townsend, then a state senator-elect and now a candidate for Congress, described Rob Natelson’s role in advising the Arizona lawmakers on their powers over the outcome of the presidential election in an interview with Trump-friendly podcaster JD Rucker on Dec. 17, 2020.

“You have a plan that you’ve initiated to be able to take Arizona’s electors — the alternate electors, the GOP electors — and have them count,” Rucker said, introducing Townsend. “Is that a fair assessment of what you’ve initiated?”

Claiming that the Arizona election was in “dispute” and that there were “some serious allegations that need to be looked at,” Townsend told Rucker that 21 sitting lawmakers and eight incoming lawmakers had “signed on to a resolution stating that we wish Congress to support the alternate slate and to not award any electors until all of these irregularities and accusations are investigated and resolved.”

Later in the podcast, Townsend said, “I want to mention — I want to give a shoutout to attorney and scholar and professor Rob Natels [sic].” She added, “When he tells us that we have the ability to do this, I think that’s who I’m going to listen to, as far as what we can and cannot do. He advised on the language of the resolutions, so we’re very happy to have that.”

Natelson’s advice to the Republican lawmakers has also been confirmed by Bret Roberts, who was serving in the Arizona House of Representatives at the time. Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller reported in a column originally published on Dec. 9, 2020 that Roberts told him that the state lawmakers communicated with Natelson. Steller’s reporting — based on Roberts’ account — indicates that Natelson advised the Republican lawmakers that they had the power to call themselves into session to deliberate on an election question, and also to overturn Arizona’s system for assigning electors — both by a simple majority.

Townsend appears to have backed up Roberts’ account on the first count.

“So, some really smart people — way smarter than I am — have told us that we are not under the Arizona constitution and that we can bring ourselves in with a simple majority,” she told Rucker during the Dec. 17, 2020 interview, just before citing and praising Natelson.

Natelson made the same points during an interview with Mitch Kokai, a political analyst with the conservative John Locke Foundation in North Carolina, on Nov. 16, 2020.

State legislatures are granted “significant powers” by the US Constitution, he said.

“When they exercise those powers, such as deciding how electors are chosen, they get their powers directly from the Constitution — the US Constitution; they don’t get it from the state constitution,” Natelson said.

He continued: “The legislature can literally call itself into session and then choose the electors itself.”

Natelson’s role in advising the Arizona Republican lawmakers was also previously reported by the Colorado Times Recorder, which cited a Telegram post by Townsend in the summer of 2021, while she was promoting the bogus Arizona audit.

“I wanted to give a shoutout to Rob Natelson, our country’s premiere Constitutional scholar who educated the Legislators in Arizona on the plenary power we possess in elections, our ability to do the audit, and our responsibility to finding the truth, all at no cost,” Townsend wrote.

Natelson could not be reached for comment for this story, and a voicemail for him at the Independence Institute in Denver, where he is employed as senior fellow, went unreturned.

In a response to the Colorado Times Recorder last June, Natelson acknowledge communicating with the Arizona lawmakers, but suggested the guidance he provided was far more constrained than what Townsend and Roberts described in their accounts of the discussions.

“My communications with the [Arizona] legislature were limited to clarifying issues of constitutional law,” Natelson said, according to the newspaper. “I informed lawmakers that… the Constitution grants the state legislature power to determine the method of choosing presidential electors. I said that they should take action only if they thought there were irregularities and if they thought those irregularities might have changed the election result. I don’t recall suggesting any particular course of action.”

Walter Holton, a former federal prosecutor appointed by President Clinton, said the participants who are most directly implicated in the alternate electors scheme are likely those who signed their names to the false electoral certificates submitted to the Vice President Mike Pence, as acting president of the US Senate; the archivist of the United States; the state secretaries of state; and chief judges in US district courts. The 11 electors in Arizona, which include Arizona Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward and state Rep. Jake Hoffman, voted for Donald Trump while attesting that they were “the duly elected and qualified electors” from the state of Arizona.

State lawmakers who promoted the scheme are also likely culpable, albeit to a lesser degree, Holton said.

“The individuals who signed the documents, are they knowingly attempting to commit a fraud against the United States?” Holton said. “They can come up with whatever excuse they want. [They can say], ‘I didn’t realize. I didn’t know.’ That’s why you have trials.

“If there are legislators or others who are knowing aiding and abetting this conspiracy, then they are culpable,” Holton added. “They’re a minor player. They are going to get a reduction, but the crime’s the same. Which is a conspiracy to defraud the United States.”

As for those who played an advisory role, Holton said culpability largely depends on whether they crossed the line into actually directing the activity.

“I don’t think think the person giving the advice has any culpability unless he directed them,” Holton said. “If they call him up, and he says, ‘Do this, this or this.’ If you advise someone to commit what turns out to be a criminal activity, it doesn’t matter — it’s what the judge says.” He added, “There’s no law against being stupid.”

According to reporting by the Washington Post and CNN, Rudy Giuliani, who peddled a number of outlandish claims of election fraud as Trump’s campaign lawyer, coordinated a plan to assemble rival slates of electors in states narrowly won by Joe Biden.

Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, appears to have also been aware of the scheme. A resolution recommending contempt for refusing to cooperate with the Select Committee states that Meadows “received emails regarding apparent efforts to encourage Republican legislators in certain states to send alternate electors to Congress, a plan which one member of Congress acknowledged was ‘highly controversial’ and to which Mr. Meadows responded, ‘I love it.’ According to the contempt resolution, Meadows responded to two different emails regarding the alternate electors scheme by saying variously, “We are,” and, “Yes. Have a team on it.”

It remains unclear whether Natelson communicated with anyone from Trump’s team while advising the Arizona lawmakers. But in comments to the “Talk Back” show on KGVO radio in Missoula, Mont. on Dec. 7, 2020, Natelson seemed to criticize Trump’s campaign legal team.

An article recapping Natelson’s remarks paraphrased him as saying “the president’s legal team has been making claims they cannot fulfill,” while directly quoted him as saying, “What they’ve been doing is kind of over-promising.”

Natelson’s support for the principle that presidential electors are not bound by the popular vote in their respective states predates the 2020 election. In a 2018 blog post, Natelson wrote that the record of the Constitutional ratification debates in Philadelphia in 1787 “suggests that the ratifiers and the voting public understood presidential electors were to exercise their own judgment when voting.”

Soon after the 2020 election, Natelson began publicizing his novel views on state legislatures’ powers to remedy what he described as an election “disaster” based on his aversion to “mail-in voting extending over weeks.”

“If a legislature becomes convinced its returns are hopelessly muddled or corrupt, it may arrange a new way of choosing the presidential electors,” Natelson wrote in a column for the Epoch Times on Nov. 8, 2020. Under such a circumstance, Natelson opined that state legislatures have two options. One would be to “call a new statewide presidential election for a single day,” while the other would be for state legislatures to “choose the electors by legislative vote on a single day.”

Speaking with Mitch Kokai at the John Locke Foundation on Nov. 16, Natelson argued that state legislatures in six states narrowly carried by Joe Biden — almost all of them Republican-controlled — were duty bound to act.

Natelson told Kokai said that the Constitution provides “that if, for some reason, you don’t have firm results, nobody’s really selected on November third, then the state legislature can decide how to choose the candidate.

“The state legislatures have to stand up and determine how serious the confusion is in their states,” he continued. “If it is serious enough so that we don’t know who’s been elected in that state, then the state legislature has to deal with it.”

'I will shed more' blood: Judge orders oath-breaking former deputy to remain in jail to await MAGA riot trial

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A federal judge has ruled that a former sheriff’s deputy from Tennessee who is accused of dragging a Metropolitan police officer into a crowd of violent rioters at the US Capitol on Jan. 6 must stay in jail while he awaits trial.

Ronald Colton McAbee was employed by the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee at the time he and a friend joined the mob at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the government. In his order requiring McAbee to remain in pretrial detention, issued on Dec. 21, 2021, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan cited evidence submitted by the government that McAbee was “excused from work” at the sheriff’s office due to a shoulder injury sustained during a recent car accident. According to a text submitted into evidence by the government, the 27-year-old sheriff’s deputy went to the doctor for CT scans and MRIs only two days before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

McAbee texted his friend on Dec. 23, 2020, according to the government to ask whether he planned to go to Washington, DC on Jan. 6.

“I want to go, but only if you’re going,” McAbee reportedly wrote. “I’m not in shape to fight right now.”

When the friend indicated he was interested in the trip, McAbee reportedly wrote, “Let’s link up and go. I’ll slap a commie with this dead arm.”

McAbee is charged alongside six other men — Jack Wade Whitton, Jeffrey Sabol, Peter Francis Stager, John Michael Lopatic Sr., Clayton Ray Mullins and Logan James Barnhart — with assaulting law enforcement. McAbee was part of a group of rioters who were throwing and swinging various objects at the officers guarding the entrance to the tunnel at the Lower West Terrace, according to the government. At about 4:28 p.m., Whitton and Sabol allegedly knocked an officer identified as “AW” to the ground. Afterwards, Whitton reportedly boasted that he “fed an officer to the people.” The government alleges that McAbee grabbed Officer AW by his left leg and torso while Mullins grabbed his left leg, and the two men dragged the officer towards the stairs.

McAbee hovered over AW as he lay on the ground and screamed at other officers who were attempting to assist him, according to court documents. When an officer identified as “CM” pushed McAbee and hit him with a police baton, McAbee reportedly swung at him. At that point, Lopatic reportedly began punching CM, and McAbee turned his attention back to AW. McAbee reporetedly grabbed AW by the torso, and the two men tumbled down the steps into the mob. As AW struggled to get to his feet, the mob reportedly kicked him, struck him with poles and stomped him. They ripped off his helmet, stripped his baton and cell phone, and maced him. Officer AW had to go to the hospital with a laceration on his head that required two staples to close.

In an earlier ruling finding that McAbee should be released, Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley in the Eastern District of Tennessee ruled that none of the government’s evidence showed that McAbee took “offensive action” and that other evidence suggested the defendant was in the area to “provide aid and assistance to individuals he saw who were in peril.”

Judge Sullivan refuted that finding in his Dec. 21 order.

“To the contrary, Mr. McAbee appears to have acted deliberately when he fought against MPD officers who were attempting to protect the US Capitol and when he used physical force to pull an officer into the violent and angry mob,” Sullivan wrote. “The government’s video evidence captures multiple angles of the horrifying scene that unfolded that day.

“Watching the video footage of these events unfold continues to elicit horror and sadness — this was, without a doubt, a crime that is unparalleled in our nation’s history,” Sullivan concluded.

McAbee wore a black tactical vest with one patch that read “SHERIFF” and another with the Three Percenter insignia, along with black gloves with hard, metal knuckles, while participating in the mob assault on the three officers, according to the government. Three Percenters typically view themselves as analogous to the American revolutionaries who took up arms against the British colonial government. As such they see themselves as a militant vanguard responsible for confronting a modern-day tyrannical government. Texts between McAbee and an individual identified as “Associate-1” that the government turned over to the court include an exchange that conveys a sentiment common among Three Percenters.

“I had to explain to [my child] last night why I was going to DC and what could happen,” Associate-1 reportedly said. “This is my fight so he doesn’t have to fight.”

“I will rise or fall along side you,” McAbee reportedly responded. “This is for future generations.”

The texts also show that Associate-1, who has not been charged to date, submitted an application to join the Proud Boys two days before the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

McAbee reportedly texted Associate-1 with a light-hearted endorsement of the catchphrase the Proud Boys use to describe their beliefs.

“You western chauvinist lol,” he wrote.

Despite allegedly participating in an assault on officers protecting the Capitol, the government’s case against McAbee suggests that he tried to leverage his status as a member of law enforcement to get preferential treatment.

After the assault on the officers, the government alleges, the rioters surged back into the tunnel opening, pushing McAbee into the side of the archway and aggravating his preexisting shoulder injury from the car accident a month earlier.

“As Mr. McAbee tried to get away from the surging crowd and through the police line, he pointed to the lettering on his vest that said ‘SHERIFF’ as he asked to be let through,” Judge Sullivan wrote in his order.

After the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, according to government evidence, McAbee reportedly sent an unidentified individual three photos showing a bloodied baseball hat and head injury. The texts suggests that McAbee viewed his actions on Jan. 6 as a fulfillment of his oath to the US Constitution even as he strengthened his resolve to commit an insurrection against the American government.

“I’ve shed blood for my country. By the hands of the swamp,” the 27-year-old McAbee reportedly wrote. “I will shed more in the days to come. But I will not forget the Oath I swore years ago to protect the America I once knew.”

The texts exchanged between McAbee and Associate-1 indicate that after Jan. 6 the two men were preparing for an escalation of violence as the Jan. 20 inauguration approached.

“Yeah, I’ve just put my go-bag in the car and told the girls to get ready,” McAbee texted on Jan. 9. “Idk what for. But just be ready.”

Other texts indicate that McAbee was following Lin Wood, the high-profile Atlanta defamation lawyer who spread conspiracy theories promoting the false claim that that the election was stolen from Donald Trump.

“Vatican is blacked out,” McAbee wrote to Associate-1. “Supposedly Pakistan is blacked out.” In the next text, he added, “Lin Wood on Parler.”

The following day, McAbee asked his friend if he planned to go to the inauguration.

“It will be bullets this time there,” he wrote. “Currently 6200 National Guardsmen, several police agencies throughout the US. Snipers everywhere.” He added, “I call for secession!”

Sullivan wrote in his order that he was troubled by the fact that McAbee was employed as a sheriff’s deputy at the time that “he participated in the riot at the US Capitol and physically assaulted MPD officers attempting to protect the building and members of Congress.” Sullivan approvingly cited the government’s argument that McAbee’s “occupation invested him with the responsibility to uphold and enforce the law. It also required an understanding of what constitutes a violation of that law. Yet, neither prevented the defendant from engaging in the assaultive, criminal conduct.”

Even worse, Judge Sullivan concluded, McAbee allowed his mistaken belief that the 2020 election was stolen “to override his sworn duty to uphold the rule of law as a law enforcement officer and even fight against officers with whom one would expect he held a mutual respect or kinship.”

Why they fight: It's not just about Trump — the insurrectionists believe 'their version of America is under threat'

The Jan. 6 rioters’ composite profile reveals an insurrectionary base willing to resort to political violence to resist challenges to the dominant position of white Christendom and patriarchy in the United States. At about 8 a.m. on a Thursday morning in late June, FBI agents in tactical vests appeared at the front door of Casey Cusick, a 36-year-old Christian evangelical pastor, in Palm Bay, Fla.

Dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, Cusick met the agents in his front yard, and they placed him in handcuffs. His 4-year-old child asked Cusick’s wife: “Mommy, why are they locking Daddy’s hands?”

Cusick, vice president of Global Outreach Ministries church, was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and other violations in connection with the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol. His father, Jim, the founder of the church, along with David Lesperance, a member of the church, have also been charged.

Months later, recording a podcast while awaiting trial, Casey Cusick reflected on how his father had noted before Donald Trump was elected that 1 Corinthians 15:52 says, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: the trumpet shall sound.”

To Casey Cusick and his father, the word “trump” couldn’t be a fluke of translation.

“Now, you can’t tell me that it’s coincidence that the last president was Donald Trump,” Cusick insisted. “And here we go reading the scripture right here where it says, ‘The last trump for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.’”

The Cusicks had traveled with Lesperance to Washington DC on Jan. 6 to support Trump.

“We went up to DC to attend the rally because we believed what Trump said, and we believed that he won the election,” Casey Cusick told the far-right news outlet Newsmax. There, Trump told his supporters: “Our country has been under siege for a long time, far longer than this four-year period. You’re the real people that built this nation.” He added, “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Now, 10 months later, Casey Cusick was telling his podcast listeners: “We’re in a situation right now of combating this stuff in our country. We need to throw away all these love messages and faith messages, and start teaching our people and letting ’em know what is going on in our country. And if you don’t fight — fight back against this tyranny that’s happening — they’ll shut our churches down. We already saw what happened with COVID-19. We saw them literally shut our churches down.”

Since Jan. 6, the FBI has arrested more than 675 people in connection with the assault on the US Capitol; they are spread across 340 counties. Almost a third of them face charges of assaulting or impeding law enforcement, according to Department of Justice. The rioters came to hear President Trump proclaim his false assertion that the election was stolen, and some, outfitted in tactical gear and weaponry, surged towards the Capitol before he had finished speaking, intent on preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner. They condemned the US government as “tyranny,” called members of Congress “traitors” and chanted, “Hang Mike Pence,” while casting themselves as the spiritual successors of the patriots of 1776. They falsely asserted that the incoming Biden administration was captured by the Communist Party of China.

“We won’t let you steal this country,” Oliver Sarko of Columbus, Ohio said on his Snapchat as he roamed the halls of the Capitol on Jan. 6. “Fight for Trump!” he yelled. And then, “Beijing Biden will never be president, we reject communism.”

Underneath the professions of patriotism and conspiracy-minded beliefs that the Biden administration and the Democratic Party are under the control of a sinister global cabal, the rioters’ composite profile reveals an insurrectionary base willing to resort to political violence to resist challenges to the dominant position of white Christendom and patriarchy in the United States.

“It’s not just being a Trump loyalist,” Amy Cooter, a sociologist at Vanderbilt University, told Raw Story. “A good majority of them feel like their version of America is under threat in a variety of ways. They’ve had those fears exacerbated by the pandemic. They were genuinely afraid of the protests after George Floyd’s killing. Whereas people of color, especially Black people, grow in size population-wise and grow in terms of political power, white people lash out through a variety of means, including gerrymandering. Some white people, to use a technical term, are freaked out. Trump becomes a symbol of resistance to all of these problems they perceive.”

The counties that sent insurrectionists to Washington DC on Jan. 6 defy easy categorization, from Los Angeles County, with 13 (roughly one defendant for every 1 million residents) to a handful or rural Kentucky counties with populations ranging from 15,000 to 45,000 that host one defendant apiece. Among the counties with the highest levels of participation, where at least one person for every 100,000 is facing charges related to the assault on the Capitol, some like Brevard and Marion in central Florida are booming, while others, like Putnam and Dutchess in New York’s Hudson Valley, lost population over the last decade. They include Democratic strongholds like Nashville, Tenn. and Columbus, Ohio and counties that Trump carried in the 2020 election like Macomb, in Michigan, and Brevard, in Florida.

Research by the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats, or CPOST, has pinpointed one correlation between the insurrectionists and the demographic trends of the counties where they live. As reported by Barton Gellman in the Atlantic: “Other things being equal, insurgents were much more likely to come from a county where the white share of the population was in decline. For every one-point drop in a county’s percentage of non-Hispanic whites from 2015 to 2019, the likelihood of an insurgent hailing from that county increased by 25 percent. This was a strong link, and it held up in every state.”

CPOST surveyed 1,070 Americans and found that 9 percent believed that use of force was justified to restore Trump to the presidency, and that a fourth of adults agreed, in varying degrees, that “the 2020 election was stolen, and Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.” The survey found that 8 percent of Americans, equivalent to 21 million adults, held both of those radical beliefs.

“Today’s 21 million adamant supporters of insurrection also have the dangerous potential for violent mobilization,” wrote Robert Pape, CPOST’s director.

CPOST’s research also found that 63 percent of “adamant insurrectionists” believe in the Great Replacement theory based on their agreement with the statement: “African American people or Hispanic people in our country will eventually have more rights than whites.”

Rooted in white-power extremist thinking, Great Replacement is typically expressed in more apocalyptic terms as a false belief that white people are facing imminent genocide due to a combination of immigration and declining white birth rates. White power extremists like Brenton Tarrant and Patrick Crusius, respectively responsible for massacres of Muslim worshipers at two mosques in New Zealand and of Latinx shoppers at Walmart in El Paso, Texas, both in 2019, used Great Replacement theory as justification for their mass murders. White nationalists chanted, “Jews will not replace us” during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017, and Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson has recently embraced Great Replacement theory.

Amy Cooter, the sociologist at Vanderbilt University, told Raw Story she thinks the Great Replacement theory is not exactly the right framework for understanding the motivations of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

“I think Replacement theory is an overt neo-Nazi perspective where they are consciously concerned about being outnumbered by Black people,” Cooter said. “From folks I have observed for a long time, they don’t have that conscious belief. Many of them are genuinely oblivious to racism and oblivious to how much harder it is to obtain the American Dram if you’re a person of color."

Cooter conducted ethnographic research with Michigan militia activists about 10 years ago, and sees a strong crossover with the insurrectionists who mobilized on Jan. 6.

“Their ideology is shared across a broad swath of conservatism,” Cooter said of the militia activists. “The real power is trying to get at the cause of the insurrection. If you just think the insurrectionists are white supremacists, then we’ll miss some important insights about how to stop the next insurrection.”

Analysis by Raw Story suggests that racial anxiety over declining white population tells some but not all the story about the underlying motivation for the Jan. 6 insurrection. Raw Story identified a dozen “hotspot” counties where at least four people are facing federal charges related to the assault on the Capitol, excluding counties where all defendants were part of the same family or traveled to DC together. The counties were also selected based on a criterion that at least one of every 200,000 residents face charges in connection with the Jan. 6 assault.

All 12 counties saw some decline in their white non-Hispanic populations between 2015 and 2019. By far, the sharpest decline was seen in Collin County, in the suburbs north of Dallas (4.2 percent). Other counties that experienced a significant drop in the non-Hispanic white population were Franklin County (Columbus), Ohio (2.7 percent); Marion County, Fla. (2.3 percent); Macomb County, Mich. (2.1 percent); Camden County, NJ (1.8 percent); and Brevard County, Fla. (1.7 percent).

The remaining six counties saw their non-Hispanic white populations decline at rates equivalent or less than the national average of 1.5 percent: Bucks County, in the suburbs north of Philadelphia (1.5 percent); Dutchess County, NY (1.3 percent); Jefferson County (Birmingham), Ala. (1.0 percent); Allegheny (Pittsburgh), Pa. (1.0 percent); Erie (Buffalo), NY (0.8 percent); and Davidson (Nashville), Tenn. (0.5 percent).

Beyond the decline in white population across the United States, there’s a much more dramatic shift afoot. A 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center found that the share of Americans who describe themselves as Christians dropped by 12 percentage points over the past decade. And a Gallup poll released in March 2021 found that the share of Americans who attend a church, synagogue or mosque dropped below 50 percent in 2020, down from 70 percent around the turn of the 21st century. The share of Americans of Americans who call themselves Christian has declined among all racial and ethnic groups, but none more so than white non-Hispanics.

While the religious right is celebrating dramatic victories in its march to outlaw abortion, the declining demographic clout of churchgoing Christians signals a potential loss of political power.

“I love this country; I love America,” said Casey Cusick, the pastor in Palm Bay — part of Brevard County — who has a pending charge of felony violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. “And I’m saddened to see where things have gone with our nation.” Cusick, explained in another part of his October podcast that he believes the United States “was founded on Judeo-Christian principles.”

Cusick lamented that a lot of Christians “say politics doesn’t belong in church, and the reason is no one wants to believe the truth — no one wants to understand what’s going on in our nation. They just want to fly by the seat of their pants, not get involved politically because, you know, you can’t do that. To be honest, that’s the reason our country’s in the situation that it’s in right now.”

Joshua Black, a rioter from Leeds, a suburb of Birmingham, Ala., explained in more vivid terms how his feeling that the Christian nation was being ripped away from him motivated him to invade the citadel of American democracy.

In a YouTube video, Black explained that he decided to go inside the Capitol after being shot in the face with a projectile because he “wanted to get inside the building so I could plead the blood of Jesus over it.” Once inside, he found a door marked “US Senate” and went into the chamber.

“I just felt like the spirit of God wanted me to go in the Senate room, you know,” Black said. “So, I was about to break the glass and I thought, no, this is our house, we don’t act like that. I was tempted to, I’m not gonna lie. Cause I’m pretty upset. You know? They stole my country.”

Eventually, he concluded that he had achieved his purpose, and left the Capitol building.

“I pled the blood of Jesus on the Senate floor,” Black said. “You know. I praised the name of Jesus on the Senate floor. That was my goal. I think that was God’s goal.”

Kevin Tuck, a pastor at the Lighthouse Church of Central Florida who stormed the Capitol while employed by the Windermere Police Department, posted a defiant YouTube video a month after being charged with obstruction of an official proceeding and disorderly conduct in a Capitol building. In his comments explaining the motivation behind the assault on the Capitol, Tuck decried both the rising acceptance of homosexuality and what he perceives as a loss of nationhood.

“You look at Jan. 6, that was a day that patriots were fed up — fed up,” Tuck reportedly said. “Patriots are being arrested left and right for trespassing. You’ve got to be kidding me.

“We need to rise up and be conservative again,” he continued. “Do you remember what conservative means, Republicans? Hear me out: We are embracing the homosexual lifestyle as if this is normal.

“We need to go back to becoming a conservative nation again,” Tuck concluded. “Back to nationalism. Being proud of this country.”

Pat Stedman, a 32-year-old self-described “dating and relationship strategist” from Haddonfield, in Camden County, NJ, posted on Twitter to his 29,000-some followers on Dec. 30, 2020: “Highly, HIGHLY recommend all patriots come to DC on the 6th. This will be a turning point in our nation.” He added, “If you are coming DM me. Assembling a TEAM.”

In a video posted on his Twitter account at 3:52 p.m. on Jan. 6, Stedman reported: “I was pretty much in the first wave, and we broke down the doors and climbed up the back part of the Capitol building and got all the way into the chambers.”

While Cusick’s podcast commentary expresses frustration that fewer Christians are declaring dominion over political governance, Stedman is preaching to young men who have difficulty maintain relationships with women that their problems are rooted in the decline of patriarchy.

“In the modern era, a husband does not have a ‘right’ to his wife’s body; he has no authority over her whatsoever,” Stedman complained in a blog post earlier this month. “Divorce is easy — you don’t even need an explanation — and in the aftermath, it’s usually the woman who ends up with the house and kids.”

Deriding gender progress in gender equality, Stedman lamented that traditional male authority has been supplanted by “an amorphous corporate state syndicate.”

Among defendants who hail from the regions with the highest levels of participation in the insurrection — central Florida, New York’s Hudson Valley, and the northern Philadelphia suburbs — some hold criminal records that reflect involvement in hate activity, or domestic violence.

Michael Curzio, a Marion County resident who was cited by US Capitol Police on Jan. 6 after refusing to leave the upper level of the Capitol Visitors Center, had previously joined a white supremacist gang known as the Unforgiven while serving a prison sentence for attempted murder.

Anthony Vuksanaj of Putnam County, NY — where three out of every 100,000 residents faces charges related to the assault on the Capitol — was charged with violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Vuksanaj was previously charged in 2019, along with his wife, with second-degree criminal mischief as a hate crime, unlawful imprisonment and other offenses, according to a local news report. The news outlet reported that New York State Police were called to a Chili’s parking lot on a report of a domestic dispute and that the Vuksanajes violated a protection order by preventing the victim from leaving the parking lot, according to the report, which also said the Vuksanajes attempted to pull the victim from a vehicle and damaged the vehicle with a tire iron, and that the crimes appeared to be biased due to the victim’s sexual orientation.

Ryan Samsel of Bucks County, in Pennsylvania, was the first rioter to approach the police line at the entrance to the Pennsylvania Avenue Walkway, as a mob that included a large number of Proud Boys approached the Capitol. According to his charging document, Samsel pushed and pulled the barricade until the crowd pushed the barricade down on top of the officers, causing one officer to hit her head on the stairs and lose consciousness. Federal prosecutors told the court that prior to Jan. 6 Samsel had a long history of assaulting women. In one incident, in 2008, Samsel reportedly poured beer on his pregnant girlfriend, shoved her into a canal and repeatedly held her underwater.

Casey Cusick also has a reported history of domestic violence. Cusick was arrested at his home in 2018 for disorderly conduct, according to Florida Today. The newspaper cited an arrest report that indicated that Cusick struck his wife on the nose with his right elbow, causing her to bleed, although the charge was not adjudicated.

Central Florida and the New York’s Hudson Valley, as two regions of the country with a disproportionate share of the Jan. 6 defendants, are also well represented among the two extremist groups — the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys — that played an outsized role in the insurrection.

Members of the Oath Keepers who face charges related to the assault on the Capitol are prominently represented among the defendants from Brevard and Marion counties. Kenneth Harrelson, who was assigned to serve as the “ground team lead in Florida,” hails from Titusville, in Brevard County. Kelly Meggs, named the “state lead of Florida,” and his wife, Connie, live in Marion County. The three Oath Keepers members conducted paramilitary training together at a firing range in Florida prior to Jan. 6, according to federal prosecutors.

Jeremy Brown, an Oath Keeper who told an InfoWars interviewer that he started reaching out to other US Army Special Operations veterans in April 2020 “when we started having the lockdowns,” lives in Tampa, Fla., as does fellow Oath Keeper Caleb Berry. Another Oath Keeper, James Delisco Beeks, lives in Orlando.

Roberto Minuta, an Oath Keeper who was assigned to Roger Stone’s personal security detail before he took part in the assault on the Capitol, operated a tattoo parlor in Newburgh, NY, although he reportedly moved to Prosper, Texas, north of Dallas, in 2020.

William Pepe, a former New York Metropolitan Transit Authority employee who lived in Beacon, NY at the time of the Jan. 6 attack, is charged with conspiracy to stop, delay or hinder Congress’ certification of the electoral vote by force, along with fellow Proud Boys Dominic Pezzola and Matthew Greene. The three men are accused of charging towards the Capitol behind Samsel, and Pepe is specifically accused of removing a police barrier at the entrance of the west plaza so that other rioters could infiltrate the plaza and prevent officers from controlling access to the Capitol.

Joe Biggs, who led the Proud Boys mob alongside Ethan Nordean that marched on the Capitol, is from Ormond Beach, on Florida’s east-central coast. Arthur Jackman, who is married to an Orange County sheriff’s deputy, is from Orlando. Jackman was indicted alongside Kevin Tuck, the former Windermere police officer, and his son, Nathaniel Tuck, who had previously been employed as an officer with the Apopka Police Department. The three men posed together, along with Proud Boys Biggs, Nordean, Edward George and Paul Rae, on the Capitol lawn after storming the building.

The rhetoric of the Hudson Valley and central Florida insurrectionists, like their counterparts from across the country, included an unmistakable call to war.

After fulfilling his obligation to provide security for Stone, the indictment says Roberto Minuta “donned battle apparel and gear, including hard-knuckle tactical gloves, ballistic goggles, a tactical vest, a radio with an earpiece and bear spray. Minuta and give other Oath Keepers reportedly sped towards the Capitol, swerving around law enforcement.

“Patriots are storming the Capitol building; there’s violence against patriots by the DC police; so, we’re en route in a grand theft auto golf cart to the Capitol building right now,” Minuta reportedly said. “It’s going down, guys; it’s literally going down right now. Patriots storming the Capitol building… f*cking war in the streets right now… word is they got the building… let’s go.”

Minuta, like his fellow Oath Keeper Jeremy Brown in Florida, had been radicalized by the government response to the pandemic.

Minuta had refused to shut down his tattoo shop in Newburgh in defiance of executive orders by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in May 2020. At the direction of founder Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keepers turned out for a rally to support Minuta that month.

“I’m going to designate him as a lifetime Oath Keeper,” Rhodes reportedly said. “And I’m not going to say we’re going to comp him a lifetime membership, because he’s earned it. He’s earning it right now. So, we’re honored to have him as a member of the Oath Keepers.”

Casey Cusick, the pastor from Florida, and Pat Stedman, the “dating and relationship strategist” from southern New Jersey, share some things in common. Both are men in their thirties who are facing charges related to the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol. They live in different regions of the country, and seemingly speak to different audiences, but in many ways they represent the religious and secular sides of the same coin.

“I believe we’re in a time of restoration,” Cusick said in the Nov. 21 episode of his podcast “The Watchmen,” which is billed as “a Biblical outlook at what’s going on politically in the world today.”

Stedman told his listeners in a Sept. 25 episode of his “COVID/Cabal” podcast: “The planet is transitioning to a different age. It’s transitioning to a different age, and it’s transitioning to a different consciousness. And you either get on board with the consciousness — there’s not a lot of time left for that — you literally get on board with that, or you literally are not gonna make it.”

Both men share a fixation on elites, echoing Trump’s demonization of a global elite during the 2016 election and his efforts to undermine scientific expertise through antagonism towards Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Cusick said in one of his podcasts that through researching COVID-19 on the internet he learned about “Satanic ritual abuse and things like that.”

“We’re worried about a virus when in reality, there’s stuff in our food that would blow your mind,” Cusick said, building to a crescendo of alarm. “There’s stuff in movies that they put in there for our children. There’s stuff they’re doing to children; it’s just terrible. And I’m telling you right now, this whole thing that is going on is a thousand percent about the kids. It’s about sex trafficking that’s been going on worldwide…. And it’s at the highest level. Elites. At the highest level.”

Both Cusick and Stedman also insist in remarkably similar language that the results of the 2020 election must be reversed.

Sipping a glass of Riesling on his deck this past fall with the air of a successful man living the good life, Stedman gazed into the camera and said, “All this talk about, ‘Just wait for 2022, just wait for 2024’ — which is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous. You fix 2020, or it’s done. Or the United States is done.” He added, “They’re just going to steal it. And the only way out is noncompliance. You can’t look to the voting booth.” (He qualified his statement by saying he’s not calling for violence: “It’s just noncompliance. You accept the system is not legitimate, doesn’t work, it’s corrupt, it’s captured, and you let what else happens, happen.”)

Cusick made the same point in the Nov. 21 episode of “The Watchmen,” with its televised wrestling-style show intro (“It’s time. So, get your popcorn ready. It will be… political. It will be… Biblical.”): “We have to do something about 2020. If we don’t deal with 2020 — I’ve said this a thousand times — how do we have a 2022?”

Both men overtly invoke the apocalypse, and self-consciously make QAnon references in their respective podcasts.

“What is going on here in America?” Cusick said in the Oct. 19 episode of his podcast. “They have us — we’re enslaved…. When the pilgrims came to America in 1620 — four hundred years from then goes to 2020 — when did this awakening start in the United States? Everyone started realizing what was going on with our elections, with Hollywood, with all these elites. It started in 2020, thanks to our president, Donald Trump.”

Cusick offered an allegory, comparing Americans from the settling of the colonies in the 1600s to the Israelites who, according to the Old Testament, were enslaved in Egypt under the pharaoh. By way of explaining how the United States, which after all, was supposedly “founded on Judeo-Christian principles,” had been “enslaved” since before its founding, Cusick claimed that “it was infiltrated and it became Satanic.”

For Cusick, Trump is to be credited for awakening a sense of nationalism in Americans and helping them define an enemy, which happens to be their fellow citizens.

“Trump’s the one who made people all of a sudden realize we have a country, and we have an opposition, whether you were on the left side or the right side,” Cusick said.

While concerned with something entirely different — helping men have more sex, as opposed to saving souls for Jesus — Stedman offered a similar chronology in his Dec. 9 blog post entitled “Why Your Woman Stops Wanting Sex.”

“We have been experiencing a gradual dark night of soul these past 100 years; as I write this in December 2021 we are near the culmination of it,” he wrote. Then, he went straight to the apocalypse: “In this collapse all that has been hidden is becoming seen. We are living through the apocalypse — the great revealing. The great awakening.”

After invoking apocalypse as a force for a transformation in gender relations, Stedman advised young men that they should strive for “consensual polarity” while making it clear that he was not advocating for equality: In his view, the men are protagonists; women are material to be “forged.”

“Such a relationship is well within your grasp,” Stedman advised. “In spite of all the programming, suitable women are all around; though many do need guidance — you will need to help forge them. But the limiting factor is you. Because you can only take a woman as far as you yourself have gone.”

Both Cusick and Stedman appeal to an authoritarian impulse by setting up a struggle between a populist base and an elite, with Trump still embodying the avenging strongman. For, Cusick, who views Trump is “a type and shadow of the Messiah” just “as Obama was a type and shadow of the Antichrist,” the former president will returned to power through God’s will. For Stedman, it will be with the assistance of a shadowy cadre he described as “an upper strata of the military… good people who are in this deep, deep apparatus… it’s beyond top secret.”

Cusick said he believes the reason Americans are experiencing tribulations is that “God’s allowing us to see Satan’s plan so that we can wake up.”

Stedman asked his listeners: “Why is Trump so confident? Why is Trump safe? Why is he protected? Why did he pull back before?” And he similarly concluded: “Well, he pulled back because he’s allowing the consciousness of the public to grow.”

In contrast, the elites and other enemies of Trump’s base, recognize that their days are numbered, Stedman claimed. It will be only a matter of time before Trump’s ultra-secret military backers would come to the aid of the yearning masses to vanquish the elites, he predicted.

“They will not be able to walk down the street,” Stedman claimed. “Do you think for a second that these people are confident in their position? Why don’t you think they’re confident? Well, they’re not confident because there’s a group above them that’s sandwiching them. You’re here at the bottom — the masses that are waking up, putting pressure on the bottom. And they’re on the top and they’re putting pressure on the top. And these people are getting squeezed. They’re like a nice little fruit. They’re getting squeezed of all their juice.”

Cusick, meanwhile, confidently predicted that Trump will return to power in a manner similar to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

“I will say he’s stepped out of his wealth, just like Jesus stepped down out of heaven into this dark world to help us, to redeem us,” Cusick said. “Donald Trump did something very similar. He’s gone. Jesus was gone for three days and three nights, but he came back.

“I believe it’s going to be the same,” he predicted. “He’s a conquering king.”

10 states with largest number of arrests on federal charges in connection with Jan. 6 insurrection

1. Florida — 78

2. Texas — 61

3. Pennsylvania — 60

4. New York — 55

5. California — 43

6. Ohio — 33

7. Virginia — 3

8. New Jersey — 22

9. Missouri — 18

10. North Carolina — 18

12 counties with largest number of arrests on federal charges in connection with Jan. 6 insurrection

1. Los Angeles, Calif. — 13 (0.13 per 100,000 population)

2. Orange, Calif. — 10 (0.31 per 100,000 population)

3. Kings (Brooklyn), NY — 8 (0.29 per 100,000 population)

4. Brevard, Fla. — 7 (1.15 per 100,000 population)

5. Allegheny (Pittsburgh), Pa. — 7 (0.56 per 100,000 population)

6. Franklin (Columbus), Ohio — 7 (0.53 per 100,000 population)

7. Hillsborough (Tampa), Fla. — 7 (0.47 per 100,000 population)

8. Dutchess, NY — 6 (2.03 per 100,000 population)

9. Marion, Fla. — 6 (1.60 per 100,000 population)

10. Orange (Orlando), Fla. — 6 (0.42 per 100,000 population)

11. Broward, Fla. — 6 (0.31 per 100,000 population)

12. Riverside, Calif. — 6 (0.25 per 100,000 population)

Charlottesville defendants found liable for civil conspiracy and ordered to pay millions in damages

Returning a verdict against dozens of white supremacist leaders and organizations who organized Unite the Right, a Virginia jury has awarded millions in damages to nine plaintiffs who were injured in the violence during the chaotic rally that ended with a car attack by James Fields.

The defendants were found liable in four of six counts, including a Virginia state conspiracy claim that they subjected the plaintiffs to racial, religious or ethnic harassment or violence. But the mixed-race jury deadlocked on a major claim in the civil case against the organizers, whether they engaged in a conspiracy to commit racially motivated violence.

The plaintiffs presented evidence over the course of the four-week trial showing that the defendants meticulously planned the Unite the Right rally on the digital chat platform Discord. While the ostensible reason for the rally was to support two Confederate monuments slated for removal in Charlottesville, the organizers' private communications revealed that their true inspiration was a violent rally four months earlier in Berkeley, Calif. and that they hoped to bait left-wing opponents into the streets, and as primary organizer Jason Kessler put it, "fight this shit out."

The evidence showed that Kessler quickly reached out to Matthew Heimbach, an avowed fascist and antisemite who led the Traditionalist Worker Party and had already organized a coalition of "hard right" white supremacist groups that included League of the South, the National Socialist Movement and Vanguard America. All the organizations sent members to Charlottesville, and the leader of Vanguard America wound up providing a shield to Fields before he drove his car into counter-protesters.

After securing a commitment from Spencer — then the most famous figure in the alt-right movement that emerged on the coattails of Donald Trump's 2016 election — for the headlining speaker slot, Kessler wrote in a phone text: "We are raising an army, my liege, for free speech but the cracking of skulls, if it comes to it." The plaintiffs also presented evidence that Elliot Kline, both a lieutenant to Spencer and a leader of Identity Evropa, organized Unite the Right alongside Kessler. Kline's former girlfriend, Samantha Froelich, testified that he was obsessed with exterminating Jews, saying he would "gas the kikes forever." Robert "Azzmador" Ray, a contributing writer for the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, mentioned in a Discord chat in the month prior to Unite the Right that had "just got done with an hourlong chat with some of the organizers and I feel better about the thing. The plan is the same: Gas the kikes." After macing counter-protesters at the Aug. 11 torch march, Ray reported to his fellow neo-Nazis: "I personally literally gassed half a dozen kikes."

Counsel for the defendants argued that Fields car attack was not reasonably foreseeable or intended by the defendants, who anticipated only pushing and shoving, or, at most, fist fights, but the jury evidently didn't buy it. The defendants all testified that they did not know Fields and had not seen him prior to his appearance at the Aug. 12, 2017 rally.

Plaintiff Natalie Romero was injured in Fields' car attack, which left her with a fractured skull, a cleft lip, persistent headaches and trouble maintaining balance. Romero and co-plaintiff Devin Willis were among a small group of University of Virginia students who linked arms around a statue of Thomas Jefferson during a torch march in which white nationalists made monkey noises at them and threw lit torches at their feet while macing, punching and kicking others. All the plaintiffs, who include a pastor, a landscaper, a paralegal who recently passed the bar exam, testified that they have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of physical injuries or emotional distress.

As she and a dozen or so counter-protesters linked arms around statue, Romero described the sound of the approaching torch marchers as "almost like thunder, like the earth was growling." She recalled that they chanted "Blood and soil" and "White power."

"There's another that I hate repeating," Romero testified. "I like, hear it in my nightmares. If my phone buzzes, I hear the same cadence, the 'You will not replace us.' That one is just so terrifying to hear the whole time."

A 'federal crime of terrorism': How judges are using a little-known statute to keep the worst MAGA rioters locked up

Federal prosecutors are using a little-known federal terrorism statute to keep members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys locked up as they await trial on charges related to the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol.

Most recently, government lawyers have cited the statute in a court filing to prevent the release of Robert Gieswein, a Colorado man who marched with the Proud Boys on Jan. 6 while dressed in tactical gear and armed with a baseball bat and aerosol chemical spray can. Gieswein is accused of spraying a chemical agent at Capitol police officers and entering the Capitol through window breached by Proud Boy Dominic Pezzola, making him one of the first people to make it into the building. According to the government, Gieswein followed a group of rioters who chased Officer Eugene Goodman up the steps towards the Senate chamber, while it was still occupied, only to be redirected when Goodman retreated up a different stairwell leading away from the chamber. The government alleges that Gieswein went on to spray officers twice more — once inside the Capitol and again near the Capitol Visitor Center.

In a motion filed on June 15, the government declares that Gieswein "committed a federal crime of terrorism and two crimes of violence." As cited by the government, felony destruction of federal government property is considered a "federal crime of terrorism" under Title 18 USC Section 2332b(g)(5) when it is "calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion."

"The grand jury found probable cause in count one of the indictment to believe that the defendant intended to obstruct an official proceeding by committing, among other things, acts of civil disorder and entering and remaining in the Capitol building on January 6," Assistant US Attorney Erik M. Kenerson wrote in the motion. "He entered through the very window whose destruction he is charged with aiding and abetting." (The government acknowledged in the filing that it has uncovered no evidence that Gieswein was affiliated with the Proud Boys prior to Jan. 6.)

By citing the federal terrorism statute, the government is establishing a presumption for detention, which requires the defendant to show the court why they should be released on bail before trial, rather than the other way around, said Walter Holton, a former federal prosecutor. While there is no law on the books making domestic terrorism a crime on its own, the element of terrorism can be used to enhance sentences once defendants are convicted.

"I think that's where the government is coming from," Holton told Raw Story. "It's putting the court on notice that if this person's convicted, the likelihood of them becoming a flight risk is increased because they're facing stiffer penalties."

Under the statute, conviction of a crime involving terrorism carries a term of a minimum of 10 years in prison, although some of the defendants face charges that carry sentences of up to 20 years.

The government has cited the federal terrorism statute in court filings against at least five members of the Oath Keepers and at least four Proud Boys members who are facing conspiracy charges in the assault on the Capitol. The Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, along with six southern California men who organized under a Telegram chat called "California Patriots-DC Brigade," are the focal point of the government investigation into coordination and planning to obstruct the peaceful transfer of presidential power through the temporary occupation of the Capitol.

At least two federal judges have agreed with the government in describing the alleged offenses of some of the Capitol rioters as acts of terrorism.

In detention orders issued the same day using identical language against Joseph Biggs and Ethan Nordean, two national Proud Boys leaders who led the march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, Judge Timothy J. Kelly wrote on April 20 that "there is a rebuttable presumption that no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant as required and the safety of the community." Kelly went on to say that Biggs and Nordean are each charged with "multiple felony offenses, including one Congress has characterized under these circumstances as a federal crime of terrorism, and another that exposes him to a 20-year sentence. In addition, the charges against him are by their very nature gravely serious."

Another federal judge has also used the term "terrorism," although more broadly to describe the overall assault on the Capitol, which involved hundreds of people, at a minimum.

"What occurred was — as alleged, is clearly terrorism," Magistrate Judge William Matthewman said during a June 2 detention hearing in southern Florida for Jason Dolan, one of 16 Oath Keepers charged with conspiracy. "It's clearly an unpatriotic attack on our country."

The judge later added: "Obviously, what happened on January 6th was just clearly a terroristic act based on the allegations in the indictment and just a horrendous attack on our country and our Constitution."

Despite characterizing the overall assault on the Capitol as "terrorism," Matthewman ultimately released Dolan to home detention with GPS monitoring.

Holton, who was appointed by President Clinton to serve as US attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina in the 1990s, said there's a simple reason why Congress has not voted to make domestic terrorism a crime in and of itself.

"Because it's white people," he said. "The same reason they can't pass an infrastructure bill. The Republican Party currently is not interested in criminalizing domestic terrorism. If you look at what happened on Jan. 6, that's the reason. It's their people; people who voted for Trump committed those acts."

Holton said the sentencing enhancements for offenses involving domestic terrorism was enacted in 2004, following the 2001 passage of the USA Patriot Act.At the time, the ACLU raised concerns about how the Patriot Act expanded the definition of domestic terrorism, warning that it could be used to criminalize civil disobedience. The civil liberties organization cited protests against US Naval military exercises on the island of Vieques, describing in an explainer how "protesters illegally entered the military base and tried to obstruct the bombing exercises" and how "this conduct would fall within the definition of domestic terrorism because the protesters broke federal law by unlawfully entering the airbase and their acts were for the purpose of influencing a government policy by intimidation or coercion."

More recently, the ACLU came out against the 2019 Confronting the threat of Domestic Terrorism Act, sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), arguing: "People of color and other marginalized communities have long been targeted under domestic terrorism authorities for unfair and discriminatory surveillance, investigations and prosecutions. Law enforcement agencies' use of these authorities undermines and has violated equal protection, due process and First Amendment rights. Law enforcement agencies already have all the authorities they need to address white supremacist violence effectively. We therefore urge you instead to require agencies to provide meaningful public data on their use of resources and failure to prioritize white supremacist violence."

Holton said he supports making domestic terrorism a federal crime, while arguing that the definition on the books clearly delineates between violent conduct and peaceful exercise of First Amendment rights.

"If you engage in an act of violence or an effort to forcefully intimidate government officials for a purpose or a political agenda, that has nothing to do with the First Amendment," he said. "If you're attempting what happened — attempting to overthrow the government by force or stop a lawful government function by force, why would we not? If you're attempting to intimidate a race of people, the Ku Klux Klan is already labeled a domestic terrorism outfit."

The current terrorism enhancements could also conceivably apply to assaults against federal buildings in Portland, Ore. and other cities since last summer, Holton said, although he added that he isn't aware of any federal prosecutors having done so.

"If you are destroying a federal property to influence a political position, then, yes it could," he said.

Jason Blazakis, who served as counterterrorism finance and designations director at the State Department under President Obama, said in an email to Raw Story that he has seen the US government use the term "domestic terrorism" multiple times in press releases announcing prosecutions of individuals who were never subsequently charged with terrorism.

"This is problematic as it prejudices the case against the individuals," he said. "And it shows the level of creativity prosecutors and law enforcement have to go to try to keep these dangerous folks in check. And, it really highlights the need for a domestic terrorism statute."

Blazakis added that if the government is going to invoke the federal terrorism statute against Jan. 6 defendants, but not charge them for acts of terrorism, "that should be of concern to every American. Overreach and being too creative in developing cases (and motions for that matter) is a dangerous recipe."

Along with Biggs and Nordean, two other Proud Boys — Charles Donohoe and Dominic Pezzola — are also locked up as they await trial. Judge Kelly, who also described the alleged offenses of Biggs and Nordean as federal crimes of "terrorism," likewise ordered Pezzola to remain locked up, citing the federal terrorism statute. Pezzola is accused of using a stolen police riot shield to bust out a Capitol window, leading to the initial breach of the Capitol.

Donohoe, a North Carolina chapter president who has been described by a federal magistrate as a "trusted senior lieutenant" who was "responsible for the group's secure communications," is accused by the government of assisting Pezzola and reportedly bragged on Telegram about possessing the stolen riot shield. The government has argued that Donohoe, who has a hearing scheduled on Wednesday, should remain in detention, based in part on having "aided and abetted others… to forcibly enter the Capitol" resulting in damage in excess of $1,000, which the government defines as "destruction of property."

"When destruction of property is 'calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion,' it also qualifies as a federal crime of terrorism," prosecutors wrote in a court filing last month.

John Daniel Hull IV, who represents Biggs, declined to comment for this story, while other attorneys representing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers defendants did not respond to emails.

Three members of the Oath Keepers are also currently locked up while awaiting trial.

Kelly Meggs, the Florida leader of the Oath Keepers, participated in a "stack" formation that snaked up the east steps of the Capitol as other rioters fired pepper spray at officers, beat them with shields and flagpoles, and yanked the doors open, according to a government filing. The government accuses Meggs and others in the "stack" of "aiding and abetting their attack, and then capitalizing on the breach moments later."

As with the Proud Boys, the government argued that "the offense was clearly calculated to 'influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion' under Section 2332b(g)(5)(A)," successfully securing Meggs' pre-trial detention.

Judge Amit P. Mehta noted that during the detention hearing for Meggs' co-defendant, Kenneth Harrelson, the government submitted evidence that once Meggs made it into the Capitol, he and other Oath Keepers started walking toward the Senate chamber, where they were turned away by police. Then, they headed south toward the House chamber.

"He apparently was searching for at least one member of Congress in particular — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi," Mehta wrote. "In a communication sent on the evening of January 7, an unidentified third person said to defendant [that he] '[w]as hoping to see Nancy's head rolling down the front steps,' to which defendant answered: 'We looked forward her.' The word 'forward' is almost certainly a typo, and what defendant meant to convey is that he and others 'looked for' Speaker Pelosi. This evidence only confirms the court's original assessment of defendant's dangerousness, and that his release would endanger the community."

When FBI agents searched Harrelson's home in Titusville, Fla. following his March 10 arrest, they found a "go bag" with an AR-15-style rifle, a revolver, a semi-automatic handgun and a "burner" cell phone, according to a government filing. They also reportedly found a copy of Technological Slavery: The Collected Writing of Theodore J. Kaczynski, aka 'The Unabomber' and a survival guide on "eluding pursuers and evading capture."

"The conduct of defendant Harrelson and his co-conspirators — invading and temporarily taking over the national legislature while it was convening, pursuant to federal law, to formally count the ballots for the presidential election — was clearly 'calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion," the government argued, concluding that "the definition of the federal crime of terrorism has been satisfied."

Assistant US Attorney Ahmed Muktadir Baset argued that Jessica Watkins, who breached the Capitol in full tactical gear while an unidentified person instructed her on Zello to "arrest this assembly… for acts of treason, election fraud," was a special case.

"She was somebody who recruited, trained, planned, and participated and organized a major part of this insurrection," Baset said during Watkins' Feb. 26 detention hearing. "And the reason is because it was calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation, origin and force. And so, for those reasons, we do believe that what she was engaged in was a federal crime of terrorism under 2332a, as it's defined."

'I've got lots of ammo': NC conservatives express 'real fear' elections are being stolen -- and they want action

Jay DeLancy, a retired Air Force Colonel with a clean-shaven head and the energetic manner of a nondenominational preacher, stood at the front of a Baptist church in the Appalachian foothills on a recent Saturday afternoon at the conclusion of his presentation on voting by non-citizens.

Complete with a slideshow and self-deprecating commentary, DeLancy's presentation detailed a saga running back almost a decade when his group Voter Integrity Project attempted to challenge dozens of registered voters on the basis of jury excuse forms that indicated they were not citizens of North Carolina. The state Board of Elections had thrown out each of the challenges, and successive efforts to obtain legislation remedies failed. DeLancy said he was also frustrated that after 11 of the cases were referred to Immigration & Customs Enforcement for investigation, nothing seemed to come of it.

Voter Integrity Project responds to the NAACP v. NCSBEE ruling.

"But these people are running around saying, 'There is no vote fraud because, well, there's no prosecutions," DeLancy said. "We'll, have you gotten the gist of how hard it is to get a stinkin' prosecution? Have you gotten that yet? So, it's really hard to get one."

A woman with short, silvery hair raised her hand and stood to speak.

"Do you really think that we — we can't go in and break dishes, and we're supposed to sit back like this — I don't think we've got that type of time," she said during the question-and-answer period at the June 12 "Voter Integrity Bootcamp." Held in the spacious sanctuary at Calvary Baptist Church, about 50 people — almost exclusively white, with the exception of one African-American man — strategized methods for deterring voter fraud.

DeLancy attempted to interject, but the woman continued.

"I really don't," she continued. "My real fear is — and this is coming from someone who's usually pretty calm, pretty cool and collected — I want to go out with a baseball bat and break some dishes and make some things happen. I'm tired of this…. I have a real fear that there's going to be civil unrest amongst what are usually very peaceful people. You can only be pushed to the precipice before — I'm done. I mean, when are we going to go golf?"

Expressing frustration, the woman continued, "I'm still not getting any direct action on what I can do."

"Trust me, that's next," DeLancy told her. "But it's a question of the ballot box versus the ammo box. And I'm trying to avoid…."

"I've got lots of ammo," the woman interrupted.

"Honey, you don't have enough," DeLancy said. "You don't have enough. There's not enough ammo on this planet for what you're talking about. Just saying. So, calm down."

Asked about whether his message could potentially fuel violence by undermining confidence in elections, DeLancy told Raw Story: "I'm not going to lie to them. I think there's a way to thread the needle to get elections back to something we can be confident in.

"We need a lot more transparency in this," he continued. "If we don't get it, we will lose our republic. We will become another Venezuela if we don't get this solved."

DeLancy, who co-founded Voter Integrity Project in 2011, held up the Arizona election audit as a model for the kind of process he would like to see to restore trust in elections. The Arizona audit has been widely panned for being run by a little-known company with no experience in election audits, concerns about ballots being compromised, and limiting access to the press.

"We'd like to see an audit — an Arizona-style audit," DeLancy told Raw Story. "In the worst-case scenario, people laugh their heads off, and say, 'You wasted all this money for nothing.'

"In my world, that's how we would do it," he added. "We would have citizen oversight of the process. We've outsourced the job to full-time and part-time government employees. The government employees are not neutral."

A majority of Republicans — 53 percent — believe, falsely, that Donald Trump is the "true president," according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted in May. In comparison, only 3 percent of Democrats believe the election was stolen from Trump. Put together with unaffiliated voters, the poll found that 25 percent of all Americans buy into the false belief that the election was stolen.

DeLancy's trainings are receiving publicity from the NC State Defense Forces, which describes itself as an "all-volunteer, pro-government, non-partisan civil defense force comprised of currently and formerly serving military, police, first responders and other like-minded legal US citizens." The group, which announced its aim to "assist state citizens learning how to protect elections," says it upholds an oath to "defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic and to protect and serve the citizens of North Carolina according to the NC State Constitution in times of need such as natural disasters or local threats to law and order." Another press release, dated Dec. 15, 2020, that is published on the group's website announces: "Oath Keepers in North Carolina joining North Carolina State Defense Forces." It is not clear what, if any, connection the NC State Defense Forces might have with the dozen-plus defendants facing federal charges related to the Jan. 6 storming of the US Capitol. Calls to a number listed on the group's website for this story were not returned.

Two recurring themes in DeLancy's presentations are the notion that voter fraud is widespread and that institutions are unresponsive to efforts to ferret it out. Belying DeLancy's complaint about the difficulty of getting prosecutions when it comes to non-citizens voting — which had prompted the woman at his training in King to say she was ready "to go out with a baseball bat and break some dishes" — was a fact that went unmentioned in his presentation: Federal prosecutors under both Trump and Biden have announced indictments of dozens of North Carolina residents accused of voting as non-citizens, including 19 in August 2018, another 19 in September 2020 and, most recently, 24 others in March 2021.

Since the launch of the Voter Integrity Project in 2011, DeLancy has cultivated relationships among far-right Republican lawmakers in the NC House, including Rep. George Cleveland. Bob Hall, a voter-rights watchdog who often winds up on the opposite side in legislative fights, confirmed DeLancy's account that the Republican leadership doesn't always go along with him.

"He's more extreme than what the leadership wants," Hall said.

DeLancy framed his presentation on non-citizens voting at the June 12 training as a tale of heroes and villains. He suggested his audience would probably deem Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who vetoed a bill requiring local clerks of courts to share jury excuse forms with election offices, as the villain. But DeLancy offered a counterintuitive alternative, showing a slide with Cooper's faced X-ed out, alongside that of Republican Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. With Berger leading the Senate, the bill remained bottled up in committee when the Republicans had a veto-proof supermajority, DeLancy pointed out.

"Cleveland understood what [the legislation] was doing," DeLancy recounted on June 12. "My fingerprints were not on that bill. Cleveland put it through. He said, 'Should I name it 'Voter Roll'? I said, 'No, no, no. It's about jury excusals, interagency cooperation, that's all.' And he did it. He framed it that way."

The legislation supported by DeLancy would have also made the jury excuse forms into public records.

"That's a huge concern," Hall said. "In addition to the fact that the data is not reliable, you're giving an overworked staff at the county board a bunch of bad data. There's no penalty for someone to write, 'I'm not a citizen of the state,' to get out of jury duty. It's not a felony or a misdemeanor. People can write all kinds of things."

The harm of releasing jury excuse forms to citizen volunteers is illustrated by what happened when DeLancy accessed the forms in Wake County in 2012, Hall said.

"He got access to the jury excuse forms, and had his data guy line it up with registered voters," Hall recounted. "It turned out that the data was all wrong. It was complete harassment. There was a guy they videoed; Jay and his allies were coming up to this guy in his driveway, and they say, 'We want to talk to you.' It turns out he's a legitimate citizen. They wanted to claim he wasn't part of it. The thing was by the time they got that information — people who were not citizens at the time they were called to serve on juries had become citizens. Six months later, by the time he was doing his campaign, the data was old."

While DeLancy found Berger, the Republican leader of the state Senate in North Carolina, to be unreceptive, his view of other Republican officials across the country has likewise dimmed.

DeLancy told Raw Story that at one time he believed voter fraud primarily benefited Democrats. That changed during the 2020 election.

"After 2020, I think it mainly benefits an ideology," he said. "You might call it 'Never Trump.' You might call it globalism. In Arizona, the Republican senators were trying to get the ballots, and the Republican governor is trying to stop them."

DeLancy told Raw Story without hesitation that he believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. Multiple judges have thrown out lawsuits challenging the 2020 election based on lack of evidence.

"I just find it mighty interesting that Trump was winning those key battleground states that had those large dumps of votes after midnight," DeLancy said. "You get a massive number of ballots that suddenly show up that swing the election conveniently against Trump."

The phenomenon DeLancy described was widely predicted by election observers who had noted that early returns would tend to favor Trump, while later surges of write-in and absentee votes — a method more widely embraced by Democratic voters — would benefit Biden. DeLancy indicated he's well aware of the theory, accurately identifying it as the "Red Mirage."

DeLancy said he's teaching citizen volunteers at the Voter Integrity Bootcamps to canvass voter rolls to try to identify illegal voters. By having volunteers knock on doors at addresses for voters listed as "inactive," he hopes to gather signed statements from witnesses attesting that these voters no longer live at the addresses where they are registered. He said his group will exercise "all options, to include challenging those voters if they show up at the polls."

The two trainings held so far this year by Voter Integrity Project have taken place in Republican-dominated areas, first in Waynesville on April 24 and then in King last weekend. But three trainings scheduled for next month are aimed at Democratic strongholds in Fayetteville, Raleigh and Durham.

During the recent training in King, DeLancy acknowledged the presence of a reporter and made sure everyone in the audience was also aware of it. But he did not temper his remarks.

During a digression on the topic of undocumented people traveling to North Carolina to obtain driver's licenses before the DMV stopped the practice in 2006, DeLancy complained about a TV news story that was too positive for his liking.

"There was just a friendly story about these people who came flooding in from Atlanta in a van," he said. "Couldn't speak a lick of English, but they were getting that license before they had to provide their citizenship. And only in TV-land in Charlotte is this something to celebrate."

Then his voice rose in a growl that revealed his frustration about the way he imagined he and his allies would be perceived because they weren't comfortable with undocumented people obtaining licenses to legally operate motor vehicles.

"But people like you who are obviously white supremacists, people like you are appalled by it," DeLancy said. "And it's like, come on. Come on, guys. Can't we defend our country? Aren't we allowed to have borders?"

'Person Three': Feds concentrating on North Carolina close in on Oath Keepers 'quick reaction force' leader

A new filing today in the case against one of the Oath Keepers defendants charged in a conspiracy to obstruct Congress' certification of the presidential election shows the government's continued focus on an unindicted co-conspirator designated to lead a "quick reaction force" who is linked to a group from North Carolina.

In a filing opposing defendant Thomas Caldwell's request to modify conditions of release, Assistant US Attorney Kathryn Rakoczy wrote that "a major part of his role in the conspiracy was organizing individuals who were on standby with guns in a hotel across the river, conduct that this court has described as among the most concerning aspects of the conspiracy and for which the evidence has only strengthened since defendant Caldwell's release."

The government has previously cited a communication from Caldwell referencing the unnamed "Person Three" as someone who was "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."

The bus from North Carolina is widely understood to be a group of Oath Keepers located in Columbus County who had previously had contacts with current Oath Keeper defendants Caldwell and Donovan Crowl. (Laura Steele and Graydon Young, two other Oath Keeper defendants, traveled separately on a bus from Thomasville, NC.) George Douglas Smith, the leader of the Columbus County Oath Keepers, has previously said [link] that his group left Washington DC when they encountered mayhem at the Capitol building and returned to North Carolina.

Today's court filing from the government includes new details about the role of Person Three and the Oath Keepers group from North Carolina.

"The investigation has shown that Person Three did, in fact, come to Washington DC from January 5-7, 2021," Rakoczy wrote. "He stayed at the Comfort Inn Ballston, where defendant Caldwell suggested he and others should stay. An individual with whom Person Three traveled from North Carolina and who also stayed at the Comfort Inn Ballston later confirmed to a Facebook associate that Person Three was in charge of the quick reaction force. A bus of other individuals from North Carolina, some of whom were affiliated with Person Three, did come up to Washington DC on January 6, 2021. Some of the people on that bus were dropped off near the Lincoln Memorial, some near the Washington Monument, and some near the Capitol."

Racoczy wrote that the drop-off locations for the North Carolina bus riders were "interesting" in light of an exchange on the Oath Keepers' "DC OP: Jan 6 21" Signal chat on Jan. 2. The government said Kelly Meggs, who was designated as the "state lead of Florida" for the Oath Keepers, posted a map on the chat with the message: "1 if by land[,] North side of Lincoln Memorial[,] 2 if by sea[,] Corner of west basin and Ohio is a water transport landing!!" according to the government. The filing said Meggs continued by saying, "QRF rally points[.] Water of the bridges get closed."

The government said Person Three responded: "My sources DC working on procuring Boat transportation as we speak."

The government has suggested that Kenneth Harrelson, one of the Florida Oath Keepers, stashed weapons at the Comfort Inn Ballston.

The government cited a Signal chat for the Florida-based Oath Keepers in which Harrelson requested the location of the "QRF hotel," and Meggs responded with a direct message. Cell site location information shows that about three hours after sending the message, Harrelson arrived in the area of the Comfort Inn Ballston, according to the government, and remained there for about an hour before continuing on to Washington DC.

The government filing includes a printout of the Florida Signal chat showing Harrelson, as "Gator 6," writing at 8:55 a.m. on Jan. 7: "So we're just leaving DC and I would like to know where my shits at since it seems everyone's gone already."

Another user, whose name in redacted in the filing, responded: "Did u leave it at Comfort Inn in that room?"

A still from surveillance video included in the filing shows Harrelson at the Comfort Inn "rolling what appears to be at least one rifle case down a hallway towards the elevator," according to the government."

The filing also includes a surveillance image of an individual the government identifies as "Person Three" carrying what the government describes as "a large and long object wrapped under a bed sheet" to Caldwell's room after he and his wife returned from the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The new government filing indicates that Person Three remained involved in the conspiracy after the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.

The filing says Person Three forwarded a message from Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes to Caldwell on Jan. 10. The message from Rhodes suggested his followers "purchase medicine, medical supplies and hygiene materials 'to keep yourself clean under field grid down conditions,'" the government said.

"Is there a code word I should be looking for here?" Caldwell responded. "Don't see reference to insurrection."

'You can’t tie me to white supremacy': Inside the fight over 'critical race theory' in America's richest county

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In the aftermath of Virginia's 2019 election, when Democrats took control of both houses of the state legislature, an IT engineer named David Gordon announced a plan to help Republicans regain control of state government.

The Virginia Project, Gordon pledged in the mission statement for the new political action committee, would "force the Democratic Party to play defense, disrupt their narratives, and counter their long-view of strategy of incremental and continuous gains."

By March 2021, the Virginia Project would have a potent issue. Anxiety over critical race theory, a field of study developed by legal scholar Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw and others, was being fanned by conservative politicians, media personalities and local activists across the country, with detractors charging that school administrators were stealthily incorporating new ways of considering race and equity into school curricula.

The Virginia Project launched a "Program on Un-American Activities," which charged that topics like "critical theory, critical race theory, queer theory, equity, transgenderism, cancel culture and other forms of Cultural Marxism" were being wielded as "ideological subversion" against the United States.

The PAC squarely took aim at a key battleground in the new culture wars — Loudoun County, the wealthiest county in not only Virginia but the entire country, just outside of Washington DC.

Loudoun County Public Schools has acknowledged a history of discrimination against Black and Latinx students, and an energetic cross-section of school board members, teachers and parents has committed to promoting what it believes are more equitable practices. Meanwhile, a local parent named Scott Mineo was ramping up a new organization called Parents Against Critical Theory, or PACT, to fight the perceived implementation of critical race theory. PACT and the Virginia Project joined forces on March 3 to present a webinar entitled "What is Critical Race Theory and Its Impact on Loudoun County Schools" that casts the district's efforts to improve equity as a detrimental force that, as one presenter put it, is "now actually running our government."

Sensing a formidable alliance taking shape, parents on the other side of the debate drew up a list of opponents that was shared in the private Facebook group Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County. Screenshots of the Facebook thread were leaked, and critical coverage from the conservative website the Daily Wire and Fox News soon drew unfavorable attention to the school district.

Violent, racist and degrading emails and social media posts directed at teachers, school board members and parents quickly ensued.

Meanwhile, the Virginia Project issued letters threatening litigation against a school board member and a parent involved in efforts to promote equity. There is no evidence that Mineo or Gordon were responsible for any of the emails or social media posts, or encouraged anyone else to make them. Mineo and Gordon's organizations have denounced threats. In an April 22 press release, PACT declared it was standing with the school board "against any type of threatening or vile communications." A lawyer for the Virginia Project, albeit in a letter threatening a lawsuit against one of the parents, wrote that "all such threats and all people issuing any such threats are not in any way connected with or condoned by TVP."

Loudoun County is rapidly diversifying, with the white population dropping from 69.5 percent in 2010 to 63.1 percent, according to the most recent census estimate. White students in Loudoun County Public Schools have gone from being a majority of enrollment — 57.8 percent — in 2010 to only 43.4 percent today. Although white students are no longer the majority, they still make up the largest racial cohort.

In 2013, the school district launched a survey to gauge parents' input on a range of social and cultural issues. Based on the results, schools Public Information Officer Wayde Byard told Raw Story: "We undertook an equity effort, training staff, which is majority white. During the staff training, critical race theory was discussed. It was not the basis for the training. It was not indoctrination. It was not put in the curriculum."

Asked to provide evidence that Loudoun County Schools is teaching critical race theory, Parents Against Critical Theory founder Scott Mineo provided Raw Story with an invoice from a consulting group that shows the district was billed $3,125 in June 2020 for five hours of coaching support itemized as "follow-up meetings focused on critical race theory development."

Broadly summarized, according to a slide in a presentation by the consulting group that provided the training, critical race theory "analyzes the role of race and racism in perpetuating social disparities between dominant and marginalized racial groups."

Mineo told Raw Story that people who oppose critical race theory don't deserve to be stigmatized.

"Being against critical race theory doesn't mean that someone holds the position of a white supremacist," he said.

The administrators and teachers at Loudoun County Public Schools are reckoning with tangible evidence that the district has discriminated against Black and Latinx students. Following an investigation into a complaint filed by the NAACP Loudoun Branch, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced in November 2020 that "there is reasonable cause to believe that Loudoun County Public Schools' administration of the Academies of Loudoun program resulted in a discriminatory disparate impact on Black/African-American and Latinx/Hispanic students who applied to the Academy of Engineering & Technology and the Academy of Science programs in the fall 2018 admission cycle for enrollment in the 9th grade class of 2019-2020."

As the controversy over equity at Loudoun County Public Schools unfolded, Mineo has been catapulted into the national media, with appearances on Fox News' "Fox & Friends."

A "Fox & Friends" story headlined "Evidence of race indoctrination in Virginia classrooms is clear, Loudoun County parent says," ran on April 8, featuring an interview with Mineo. Introducing the segment, co-host Steve Doocy put the onus on Mineo, saying, "A Virginia parents group is fighting to keep critical race theory out of their classrooms in Loudoun County, Virginia. They've released evidence that, they say, proves the controversial curriculum is being used in their schools."

The evidence presented was a slide headlined "White fragility" that, ironically, appears to have proved its point as a focus of ire for conservative media and activists. The slide includes this quote: "Since white people are in a state of privilege with regards to racial issues (meaning they can choose not to think about racial issues that don't affect them) they may respond to the whole discussion of race with discomfort."

A slide in the presentation on critical race theory by the Virginia Project in the March 3 webinar co-hosted with Mineo's group claims that beneath the outward goals of "dismantling systems of oppression and structural racism," there is a hidden agenda "to undermine our constitution and individual sovereignty" and that it "erases history and culture and replaces it with a 'new, more equitable and equal' future." The slide concludes, "Critical theory is essentially a religion. Call it wokism, neo-Marxism, neo-racism or identity politics; it utterly lacks in humility and forgiveness and is practiced with religious zealotry."

For his part, Mineo shared a presentation with a slide that uses controversial and conspiracy-charged language to describe organizations that he says are responsible for promoting critical race theory. The presentation attacks the NAACP as "Black supremacists, anti-white and BLM supporter"; Black Lives Matter as a "domestic Marxist terrorist organization, black supremacists, anti-white, pro-segregation, anti-police, funded and controlled by white liberals"; and the National Education Association as "anti-education, anti-student, radical social justice warriors."

Sensing a threat to equity efforts in the school district, a group of parents opened a thread in the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County private Facebook group "to compile a document of all known actors and supporters" in "the anti-CRT movement," as one parent put it.

Mineo's name was the first to be added in the March 13 Facebook thread.

All told, the parents working to promote equity compiled 50 names, including spouses, according to screenshots provided to Raw Story by the Virginia Project.

No evidence has been publicly presented indicating that the names of critical race theory opponents were published outside of the private Facebook group, or that anyone's addresses were listed on the Facebook thread. A screenshot reviewed by Raw Story shows that Jamie Neidig-Wheaton, the administrator of the group, turned off comments seven weeks ago, which would have been around March 16, the day the Daily Wire story came out.

The day after the Daily Wire article was published, a teacher named in the story received an email from an anonymous account that said, in part: "Really? You fucking ugly piece of dog shit…. How dare you and your merry band of dumb cuts and pussy 'men'! Fuck you and your list! Eat shit and die."

Another person wrote from an encrypted email account: "I saw your fat face in a Daily Wire article. I hope you die of a massive heart attack very soon. You aren't fit to teach how to lick a postage stamp, much less indoctrinating kids on how to judge people based on the color of their skin."

Scott Mineo and David Gordon, his webinar co-host at the Virginia Project, also found themselves on the receiving end of hostile email posts.

One Facebook user posted a photo of coffin samples for sale on Facebook Marketplace, writing, "I'd put them on the porches of my enemies as a warning… lol jk (kinda)," according to a Facebook screenshot. Then, in a comment, she specified: "Right now it'd be dropped off at the PACT leaders houses and the VA project dingbat David Gordon."

Other messages were far worse.

In April, two school board members, Vice Chair Atoosa Reaser and member Beth Barts, publicly shared a hideously violent and racist email they received.

"Don't be surprised when you low-IQ, poorly educated, and morally bankrupt pinko traitors are dragged from your beds in the middle of the night and hanged by the neck until dead by the righteously angry parents of your community," the email reads. "I will be cheering them on. White men built all the best things in the world. Every other civilization is inferior."

The writer goes on to describe laughing when he watched George Floyd die, closing, "You're welcome, you ungrateful subhuman torture-deserving vermin."

Mineo's group immediately issued a statement on its website denouncing the email, stating, "We completely reject anyone that wishes to help us that shares this type of mindset."

Gordon told Raw Story: "It didn't come from us. I wouldn't associate with anyone who does anything like that." But in a follow-up email, Gordon said he suspects the email was contrived to support false accusations against the Virginia Project. "Everyone assumed it was made up by one of the 'anti-racist' group members because it's so over the top, and just the kind of desperation move they are inclined to," he wrote. "Another possibility is that it's just some random shitposter in their mom's basement."

The two opposing sides have remained bitterly divided .

Citing a post by a member of the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudoun County who allegedly urged others to "hack and shut down or hijack websites" of anti-critical race theory groups, a lawyer for the Virginia Project warned administrator Jamie Neidig-Wheaton in a March 24 letter that "some of their actions violate Virginia criminal code, and some of their behavior subjects the culpable individuals to civil liability for compensatory and punitive damages."

Reached for comment, Neidig-Wheaton said, "My only request is that readers look at my church's antiracist pledge, and consider their commitments as Americans, and if they are Christians, consider their commitments as Christians."

In a similar letter to school board member Beth Barts, Philip Bradfield, a lawyer based in Newport News, wrote on behalf of the Virginia Project: "This letter is a formal demand that you immediately and completely cease to participate in, promote, request, call for, or solicit any and all behavior described above, including listing names, addresses, employers, etc. of perceived political enemies, hacking or hijacking websites of perceived political enemies, or other criminal/fraudulent activity online which is calculated to or tends to embarrass, humiliate, or harm the business, job, career, reputation, health, or life of another."

Screenshots of the Facebook thread do not include any addresses.

Bradfield alleged in the letter that Barts urged members of the Anti-Racist Parents of Loudon County Facebook group to push fellow board members to "call out statements and actions which undermine our stated plan to end systemic racism at LCPS."

Barts did not respond to emails seeking comment for this story.

Asked if the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office is investigating potential crimes committed by members of the private Facebook group, spokesperson Kraig Troxell told Raw Story: "Although we cannot provide specific details due to the active investigation, we can confirm a number of complaints surrounding messages posted by a social media group , as well as messages sent in response. The LCSO continues to examine the law in relation to these messages, and work with social media platforms to clearly identify these and other related communications."

The Virginia Project has portrayed parents, teachers and school administrators in Loudoun County as subversives, using inflammatory language and wording suggestive of conspiracies.

Re-booting the March 3 webinar on March 16 after the Daily Wire article began to cause waves, Virginia Project founder David Gordon said: "This presentation is done as part of our program on un-American activities, which was kind of named tongue in check, but it proved its name immediately when this very un-American group of critical-race-theory terrorists — there's really no other word to use for them — came after us.

"And now we have the entire political system lining up to put a stop to these people," Gordon continued. "And we're gonna sue everything and anyone connected to it. So, very good times are ahead."

In an interview with Raw Story, Gordon defended the use of the term "terrorist" to describe the opposing group.

"It's appropriate to the temperature they set," he said. "If you look up the definition of terrorism, it's violence for political objectives." Alluding to the accusation that members of the Anti-Racist Parents Facebook group have engaged in "hacking or hijacking websites of perceived political enemies," Gordon added, "They are commonly associated with terrorism."

The Virginia Project paid the Bradfield Injury Law Firm $2,500 in March, according to campaign finance reports on file with the Virginia Department of Elections. A donation request on the Virginia Project website suggests that if people are interested "in supporting legal action" but wish to remain anonymous, they should send checks directly to the Bradfield Injury Law Firm.

"If you are interested in supporting legal action against the perpetrators in this case, but do not wish to be identified as required in compliance reports, sending a check directly to our legal counsel does not count under law as a contribution to our political action committee and is not subject to reporting," the PAC says on its website. "We prefer contributions to our Civil Rights Defense Fund as these can be used for additional activities such as FOIA requests, but we understand that many are concerned with the risk of retaliation from 'woke' cults and 'woke' employers that appearing on a compliance report may subject them."

Gordon told Raw Story that he asked the PAC's treasurer to ensure that the arrangement was in compliance with Virginia law, adding that contributions directly to the law firm don't need to be reported because, while the Virginia Project is a partisan organization, the case involving Loudoun County Public Schools is not a partisan matter.

"Chris Marston, our treasurer, is also the general counsel of the Republican Party of Virginia," Gordon said. "That's as authoritative as my advice can possibly get. What I was told was that this is completely in compliance with Virginia law. I am paranoid about compliance. Of course, our political opponents will come after us."

The Virginia Project's campaign finance reports indicate that the PAC raised $33,159 from October 2020 through March 2021, and that Gordon paid himself $6,550 during that period, not counting expenses for food, gas and expenditures listed as "dental treatment for consultant's injury."

Gordon acknowledged to Raw Story that he lives in South Carolina.

Asked why, as a resident of South Carolina, he feels invested in the political future of Virginia, Gordon said, "I am a subject matter expert on the dysfunctionality of the Virginia Republican Party. I know how to fix it."

Consistent with the characterization of the Loudoun County equity advocates as un-American "domestic terrorists" bent on subverting the republic, the Virginia Project has also promoted the false claim that the Capitol riot was staged by unnamed left-wing agents.

"The Capitol riot is a Charlottesville hoax redux — all the players were left wingers, including all relevant elected officials — and also the alleged 'right wing' boogeyman they set up for preplanned violence," the Virginia Project tweeted on Jan. 15. "This is standard Democrat MO for many years."

Beyond its work with the Virginia Project, Parents Against Critical Theory has also recently announced a collaboration with 1776 Action, a 501(c)4 organization that is currently running an advertising campaign featuring former Housing & Urban Development Secretary and Ben Carson and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to counter critical race theory and the 1619 Project. A recent Fox News article quotes 1776 Action President Adam Waldeck as saying "his group plans to be active in Loudoun County."

The new partnership with 1776 action, alongside the recent appearances on Fox News, raises Parents Against Critical Theory founder Scott Mineo's profile and puts him in a better position to raise money.

Mineo told Raw Story that his activism is motivated by a conviction that matters of race and equity should not "be discussed in a manner that victimizes a kid in 6th grade as an oppressor."

He did not directly address a question about whether schools hold a responsibility to address historical oppression of people of color and persistent systemic racism.

"It's hard for me to answer because it's a very general question," he said.

While Mineo insisted that his opposition to critical race theory does not make him a "white supremacist," Facebook posts he appears to have authored under the username "Vito Malara" prior to the launch of Parents Against Critical Theory repeatedly express views that are anti-Black and anti-Muslim. Mineo acknowledged authorship of some of the posts, and did not deny that he is the owner of the "Vito Malara" account, which remains active.

One post from 2017 falsely implies that all Black children born out of wedlock do not have fathers in their lives.

"More than 72% of black children in the African-American community are born out of wedlock," Mineo wrote as "Vito Malara." "That means absent fathers. Ok, now we know that 72% of black kids are fatherless. So it begs the question, if they have no idea who their fathers are, how in the hell can they possibly claim their family members were slaves."

Asked about the statement last Tuesday, Mineo said, "When you're talking about a fatherless environment, maybe it was a hit-and-run. Those aren't my stats.

"It's a household that doesn't have a father in it," he continued. That is false: A controversial 2013 statement by CNN anchor Don Lemmon refers to out-of-wedlock births, not children in households without a father.

"I stand by my words," Mineo said. "You can't tie me to white supremacy."

He added, "Would a racist allow his daughter to date a minority? No."

In another post from 2017, "Vito Malara" described a group Black teenagers accused of assault as a "pack of savages." Mineo did not confirm authorship of the post.

At least two posts made the claim that Muslims refuse to assimilate when they immigrate to the United States and western Europe.

"My son's girlfriend is Muslim," Mineo said, when asked about one of the posts. "Whatever."

In another 2017 post, "Vito Malara" wrote: "These people will not assimilate, they only assassinate. How can anyone defend an ideology, not a religion, where the brainwashed murdering losers worship a man, a pedophile named Mohammad who married a 6-year-old girl."

Mineo indicated earlier this month that his views on Muslims have changed since then.

"What I believe now is if you're a radical Islamic terrorist, there's no place for you here," he said. "If you're a contributing member of society, then fine. To try to paint me to some kind of narrative, it's not going to work."

David Gordon with the Virginia Project told Raw Story he was not aware of the Facebook posts, while indicating he was not interested in reviewing them.

"I don't really care because it's not material to anything I'm doing," he said. "There are no posts by Vito or whoever he is in the presentation we did with Scott. It's academically sound, and it adheres to the facts."

Mineo told Raw Story that his experience leading Parents Against Critical Theory has taught him to be more diplomatic.

"I know I have to be more careful with my words," he said. "It's not a bad thing. It forces you to think.

"That's why I'm open to sit down and talk to anyone," he continued. "I have to be able to hold a position without being called a white supremacist. If you're going to call me a white supremacist, you better have some pictures of me walking around with a freaking hood. Because I'm not. I'm not. I know what I am."

'White Boy Summer': How Tom Hanks' son is inspiring Neo-Nazis eager for the return of the Third Reich

Chet Hanks' Instagram communique promising a "white boy summer" is ill-advised, self-absorbed and head-scratching. But the social-media salvo has also, predictably, received a warm reception from white supremacists who gleefully embrace it as a rallying cry for racial exclusion, right-wing violence and the return of the Third Reich.

Best known as the son of Tom Hanks, Chet Hanks is an actor of a lesser stature, with roles on "Empire" and "NCIS: New Orleans" as well as an erstwhile rapper who performed under the name "Chet Haze." On March 26, he posted a video of himself seated behind the wheel of a parked car and chewing gum, casually announcing: "Hey guys. Look, I just wanted to tap in real quick. I just got this feeling, man, um, that this summer is, uh… it's about to be a white boy summer. You know, take it how you want."

Then, he qualified: "I'm not talking about a Trump, NASCAR type white. I'm talking about me, Jon. B, Jack Harlow [two white artists who have been embraced by Black audiences] type white boy summer, you know what I mean? Let me know if you guys can vibe with that? And get ready, you know? 'Cause I am."

The phrase "white boy summer" uttered by a mid-level celebrity on social media would have gained traction with white supremacists regardless of the intention, but Hanks carries some extra baggage on his own. The gothic lettering on the "White Boys Summer" sweatshirts and T-shirts marketed on Hanks' Instagram page suggest white supremacist aesthetics, including Hitler's book Mein Kampf. And Hanks has previously courted controversy for using the N-word, and then arguing he is as entitled to say it as a Black person.

As if to deflect charges of racism, Hanks rolled out a new line of "Black Queen Summer" shirts and proffered in another Instagram video: "I want to see some white boys and some Black queens wearing each other's shirts." Centering white masculinity while also profiting from Black women is unlikely to assuage any critics and is in its own way open to cooptation from white supremacists. While upholding an ideal of white female purity and chastity (which inevitably sets white women up for failure), white supremacists also celebrate the sexual conquest of non-white women and rape as a tool of war.

Celebratory tweets and memes from openly Nazi Twitter accounts sprang forth almost immediately following Hanks' March 26 promise of "a white boy summer."

One day later, the user "Panther Den" tweeted to his 22,100 followers: "step 1: white boy summer / step 2: the return of Hitler." In another tweet that used the hashtag #WhiteBoySummer, Panther Den spliced Hanks' "It's about to be a white boy summer" footage into an aggressive montage that includes the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting, Hitler giving a sieg heil, Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd, and Trump supporters attempting to run a Biden campaign bus off an interstate in Texas during the 2020 election. To date, the video has been viewed 9,700 times and retweeted 166 times.

Another openly Nazi Twitter user, "Synth," tweeted: "Idk why they thought this was some sort of own against 'racists.' It had the complete opposite effect on people." That tweet links to another tweet that shows a clip from a satirical movie depicting a nature preserve for "endangered Aryans" to mate, with the comment, "Really, this is what #WhiteBoySummer is all about." In another tweet posting screenshots from Hanks' Instagram merch video, Synth marveled, "Was expecting him to scream 'HITLER!!!!!' when I saw the font." In the comment thread, Synth posted a link to Hanks' merch shop, and he and another user said they planned to buy the "White Boy Summer" apparel.

On the same day Hanks released his initial "white boy summer" video, a Nazi user named Cassius Kaiser expressed rage at a Los Angeles Times story raising the question of whether "localism" in surfing scenes amounts to "veiled racism."

"Localism is never going to go away and you unlocal limpwrists and minorities who don't know how to act are going to get fucked and there's absolutely NOTHING you LOSERS can do about it," he wrote.

A day later, thanks to Hanks, Cassius Kaiser had a hashtag.

"Basically, what I meant to say is, Surf Nazism," he tweeted on March 27. "It's coming and there's literally nothing you can do to stop it because WHITE BOY SUMMER IS fucking HERE."

Linking to a Black Twitter user who wrote that "'White boy summer' sounds like a threat," Cassius Kaiser responded, "It is," while attaching a 1960s-era photo of white surfers sieg-heiling from a vintage car packed with surfboards.

In a more recent tweet on April, Cassius Kaiser wrote that "summer is almost here" and "it is time to… run minorities and unlocals completely off the beaches."

The Twitter Communications team did not respond before publication to a request for comment from Raw Story about whether the tweets promoting racist violence and celebrating the Third Reich violate its terms of service.

On Telegram, a social media platform favored by white supremacists because of its encrypted video chat function and lax moderation, three "White Boy Summer" channels have materialized that are dedicated to producing memes. The White Boy Summer channel, which surpassed 1,000 subscribers on Tuesday evening, is the most prolific. The aim is to create content that can migrate to more mainstream social media platforms. In a discussion chat responding to a "White Boy Summer" meme riffing on the movie Fight Club, Telegram user "Oskar Dirlewanger" wrote: "Very glad to see people capitalized on the super douche Chet Hanks fantastic propaganda idea, keep this going until its mainstream normie tier."

Telegram channels devoted to "White Boy Summer" memes predictably incorporate Hitler, but also Derek Chauvin, neo-Nazi Christopher Cantwell and Mark McCloskey, the St. Louis man invited to address the Republican convention after brandishing a rifle at Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.

At least one prominent white nationalist has acknowledged the "White Boy Summer" meme.

Vincent James Foxx, who runs the Red Elephants website and podcast, tweeted a photo of himself on a boat, accompanied by the text "Summer is for the white boys" on March 29. Foxx reportedly documented and incited street violence by the white supremacist group Rise Above Movement in 2017. Foxx stood alongside Nick Fuentes, leader of the Groyper movement, outside the US Capitol on Jan. 6 and was a featured speaker at the America First Political Action Conference organized by Fuentes in late February.

Not surprisingly, the white supremacist meme-ing is also drifting into misogyny.

A manufactured Facebook screenshot shared on the "White Boy Summer" channel on Tuesday depicts a user who is presumably a young, white woman reporting that a man asked her, "What summer is it?" in the midst of a sexual encounter, and then reacted angrily when she responded that it wasn't summer yet.

Users in the discussion thread coalesced around the idea that the fictitious woman was worthy of degradation and rejection, but oddly the thread evolved into a debate over which substances are the "drugs of the white man" versus drugs that are "gay," degenerate and associated with Black people.

One Telegram user made a full-throated endorsement of drug use, celebrating it as an enabler of racist violence.

"Totally," he wrote. "Blow a few lines after some whiskey and fight a n***** posse with the bois."

'Bloody civil war': Inside the heavily armed contingency force hovering over the Oath Keepers Jan. 6 prosecution

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While the government builds a conspiracy case against a dozen Oath Keepers accused of storming the Capitol, court documents indicate investigators also remain interested in whether the far-right militia group was staging "quick reaction forces" with heavy weaponry as a contingency to escalate violence.

An unindicted co-conspirator referenced in government court filings as "Person Three" and "Paul" is at the heart of indicted Oath Keepers' discussions about a heavily armed "QRF," or quick reaction force, that was supposed to stage outside DC as backup during the assault on the Capitol. At least two of the Oath Keepers defendants were in direct communication with the QRF leader, according to government filings. Thomas Edward Caldwell, a Navy veteran and former FBI section chief, is one. Another is Jessica Watkins, the Army veteran from Ohio who breached the Capitol. The QRF leader reserved a room at a hotel where other Oath Keepers were staying in advance of the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, so it's likely that federal investigators know his name.

The QRF leader was also a liaison between the nucleus of Oath Keepers in battle gear who staged the assault on the Capitol and a North Carolina group of Oath Keepers that has since split from the national organization.

Texting Caldwell on Dec. 30, Watkins wrote that she intended to reach out to the individual known as "Person Three" "and see if the NC boys are coming." Caldwell responded that he had already spoken with "Person Three," according to court filings.

"At least one full bus 40+ people coming from NC," Caldwell texted to Watkins, according to government motion opposing pre-trial release. "[Person Three] is driving plus 1 and arriving nite before. As we speak he is trying to book a room at Comfort Inn Ballston/Arlington because of its close-in location and easy access to downtown because he feels 1) he's too broken down to be on the ground all day 2) he is committed to being the quick reaction force anf [sic] bringing tools if something goes to hell. That way the boys don't have to try to schlep weps on the bus. He'll bring them in his truck the day before."

Caldwell added in his message to Watkins that while he was composing his text he learned that the QRF leader had succeeded in booking the hotel room.

In a separate filing, the government cites a Facebook message from Caldwell to an unidentified recipient referencing a man named "Paul" who appears to be "Person Three." While recommending the Comfort Inn Ballston/Arlington, Caldwell wrote on Jan. 1: "Paul said he might be able to take one or two in his room as well."

On the same day, Caldwell messaged to Donovan Crowl, a Marine Corps veteran who breached the Capitol with Watkins: "[Person Three] has a room and is bringing someone. He will be the quick reaction force." Later in the same message, he reiterated the connection between the leader of the quick reaction force and the North Carolina group: "Oathkeeper friends from North Carolina are taking commercial buses up early on the 6th and back the same night. [Person Three] will have the goodies in case things go bad and we need to get heavy."

A government motion opposing Caldwell's pre-trial release indicates that Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers, discussed the quick reaction force prior to the assault on the Capitol in a group chat on the encrypted app Signal that was called "DC OP: Jan 6 21." The motion said an unindicted co-conspirator referenced as "Person One" — widely reported to be Rhodes — warned the group: "DO NOT bring in anything that can get you arrested. Leave that outside of DC." He went on to say, "We will have several well-equipped QRFs outside DC." In addition to Rhodes, the government alleges that the chat included Watkins; Kelly Meggs, described by the government as the "team leader" of the Florida Oath Keepers; "and regional Oath Keeper leaders from multiple states across the country."

While acknowledging there was no discussion about breaching the Capitol in the chats prior to Jan. 6, the government has cited Rhodes' warning as evidence of active preparation for violence.

Communications among various alleged co-conspirators that have been cited in various government filing contain ample references to at least one quick reaction force.

In March 23 motion opposing pre-trial release for government lawyers wrote that on Jan. 2 "Meggs reported that he will be coordinating the 'QRF' with the Oath Keepers from North Carolina."

The filing cites a message from Meggs in the "DC OP: Jan 6 21" chat.

"Good call last night," Meggs wrote, according to the government. "Lots focered [sic]. I'll get with NC team today and find out QRF location." In an additional linkage between Meggs and the QRF leader, the government alleges that three rooms at the Comfort Inn Ballston/Arlington were reserved "in Person Three's name"; two of those rooms, according to the government, were paid for by a credit card in Meggs' name.

And on Jan. 3, according to a March 31 superseding indictment against 12 Oath Keepers defendants, Watkins wrote in a message to another Oath Keeper from Ohio: "We are not bringing firearms. QRF will be our Law Enforcement members of Oathkeepers." In a subsequent message, Watkins walked back her advice on firearms, suggesting some confusion on the issue. "Weapons are ok now," she reportedly wrote. "Sorry for the confusion."

The government has made no secret of its interest in those involved with the Oath Keepers' plans to field armed teams outside of DC at the time of the insurrection.

"The government is also investigating whether there were additional quick reaction force teams, besides the one led by Person Three, supporting the co-conspirators' efforts on January 6," lawyers wrote in a March 8 motion opposing Caldwell's pre-trial release.

Prior to the assault on the Capitol, the Oath Keepers made no effort to conceal plans for staging quick reaction forces, and if anything seemed eager to publicize them as a signal of strength. In an article headlined "Oath Keepers Deploying to DC to Protect Events, Speakers & Attendees on Jan. 5-6: Time to Stand!" that was published on the organization's website on Jan. 4, Rhodes wrote: "As we have done on all recent DC Ops, we will also have well-armed and equipped QRF teams on standby, outside DC, in the event of a worst-case scenario, where the President calls us up as part of the militia to assist him inside DC."

By late December, Caldwell was devising an elaborate plan to ferry weapons across the Potomac River as a contingency for escalation on Jan. 6.

Texting an individual associated with the Three Percenters, a right-wing militia movement, Caldwell wrote, "Can't believe I just thought of this: How many people either in the military or not (who are still supportive of our efforts to save the Republic) have a boat on a trailer that could handle a Potomac crossing?"

He continued: "If we had someone standing by at a dock ramp (one near the Pentagon for sure) we could have our Quick Response Team with heavy weapons standing by, quickly load them and ferry them across the river to our waiting arms. I'm not talking about a bass boat. Anyone who would be interested in supporting the team in this way? I will buy the fuel. More or less be hanging around sipping coffee and maybe scooting on the river a bit and pretending to fish, then if all went to shit, our guy loads our weps AND Blue Ridge Militia weps and ferries them across."

On Jan. 3, according to the government, Caldwell messaged "Person Three" on Signal, writing, "I'm calling it a night. Got feelers out in the boat idea, will finish new map tomorrow."

Since Jan. 6, Rhodes has attempted to portray plans for the quick reaction force as inconsequential and irrelevant, while presenting Caldwell as someone who didn't represent the Oath Keepers.

"Now, there was some chatter among other people like Thomas Caldwell, who is not an Oath Keeper, about having a QRF outside of DC," Rhodes said in a May 14 interview with the far-right website The Gateway Pundit. "It turns out to be one old veteran that couldn't even hardly walk.

"The media is once against grabbing any little thing they can find and trying to turn it into this grand conspiracy," he complained.

During the Gateway Pundit interview, Rhodes acknowledged that "some our people did go into the Capitol," while suggesting they were acting outside of command. Rhodes argued that the fact that the Oath Keepers entered the Capitol without rifles undermines the government's conspiracy case, but his words also contained an implied threat. In his remarks to Gateway Pundit, Rhodes redirected attention to a man he identified as "Whip," also known as "Mike." Government filings refer to him as "Person 10."

"The team leader on the ground that day was an experienced combat vet," Rhodes said. "The man was an explosives expert in the Army. He worked with Triple Canopy and Blackwater as a contractor all over the world, and he's an ex-cop. If he had actually intended for anyone to go into the Capitol and commit an insurrection, it would have looked very, very different from what we saw. The idea that was somehow an insurrection with no guns, no obvious intent to do anything, is ridiculous — a complete joke."

Rhodes could not be reached for this story.

"Whip," or "Mike," also appears in a video posted on the official Oath Keepers YouTube account documenting the militia's presence in Louisville, Ky. on Sept. 23, the day results of a grand jury investigation were announced finding that police officers were justified in fatally shooting Breonna Taylor. Narrating the video, Rhodes identifies "Whip" as "our team leader."

The following day, according to an account in the Washington Post, following a confrontation with protesters, Rhodes asked Mike, who is Black, to field questions from the news media. Media coverage of the encounter from the Post, along with Sky News and the live-streamer Based Web Developer, shows that Jessica Watkins and Florida Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson, who both face conspiracy charges in the Jan. 6 insurrection, were present.

Also captured in the footage is George Douglas Smith Jr., leader of a North Carolina Oath Keepers group based in Columbus County, along the South Carolina line.

As an admin on the Oath Keepers, Columbus County Facebook page last June, Smith pledged that his leadership "will soon lay out our teams and start the training" that would make the chapter "a formidable fighting force capable of defeating the forces of evil that are intent on destroying our nation and murdering those of us that don't sumit [sic] to their evil schemes on bended knees."

In another post, Smith signaled his preoccupation with the 2020 election while warning that a Democratic victory would pose an existential threat.

"I'm confident as more people come to the realization that not only is our constitution in danger of destruction, their very lives will hang in the balance if the communist democrats and their army's blm and antifa take control of this country in November. There are not that many training opportunities from now until the election, there is nothing as important as the ability to survive!!!"

Smith could not be reached for comment for this story.

Smith confirmed to the News Reporter, a local newspaper in Columbus County, that the North Carolina Oath Keepers traveled by bus to the "Stop the Steal" rally headlined by President Trump at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. But he said they boarded the bus and returned to North Carolina instead of going to the Capitol. Afterwards, Smith said, his group unanimously voted to split from the Oath Keepers.

"The men of Columbus County will not be a part of anything that terrorized anybody or goes against law enforcement," Smith told the newspaper.

Smith acknowledged having met Caldwell in November, according to the report. According to a government filing, Caldwell texted an unidentified individual on Dec. 23 indicated that he had hosted "a bunch of the Oath Keepers from North Carolina" on his farm in northern Virginia "for the Million MAGA march," a Nov. 14 event that, along with a Dec. 12 rally, was a prelude to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Smith also told the News Reporter that "an individual up there in Ohio" named "Donovan" had called him. The government alleges that Donovan Crowl interacted with the North Carolina Oath Keepers prior to the insurrection.

Rhodes has said that he abandoned the plan to stage a quick reaction force on the eve of the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally. Rhodes told The Gateway Pundit that he and "Whip" discussed the matter the night before and decided that because they didn't expect President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act, "we don't want to leave the manpower outside DC, so we did not have a QRF on January 6th."

Since late October, Rhodes had been calling on Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act as a preemptive move against anticipated civil resistance if Trump had attempted to cling to power in defiance of the electoral certification.

In an interview with Alex Jones of InfoWars about a week before the election, Rhodes pledged that Oath Keepers would be staged outside DC, while hinting that they could find themselves at odds with the US military.

"Frankly, we're concerned about a Benghazi-style attack," he said. "That's why Oath Keepers will be posted outside of DC. We've got some of our best men working on a plan right now for where we're going to be. We'll make sure we're within range. Because I don't trust the Pentagon. I don't trust the brass. I don't even trust the secretary of defense to stand behind the president. And don't be surprised if you don't get the same kind of stand-down order you saw with Benghazi."

Speaking at the Stop the Steal/Jericho March in Washington DC on Dec. 12, Rhodes elaborated on his recommendation that Trump invoke the Insurrection Act — a move that has been widely rejected by legal experts and military leaders as an illegal power grab.

"He needs to free Julian Assange and put him in charge of doing a data dump to display to all of you all of the skeletons out of the closet into the streets," Rhodes said. "Show the world who the traitors are. And then use the Insurrection Act to drop the hammer on them. And all of us veterans who swore that oath: Until you're age 65, you can be called up as the militia to support and defend the Constitution.

"He needs to know from you that you are with him, that if he does not do it now while he is commander-in-chief, we're going to have to do it ourselves later in a much more desperate, much more bloody civil war," Rhodes continued.

While planning for a heavily armed quick reaction force poised to supply weapons for an escalation of hostilities on Jan. 6 poses a host of unanswered questions, recent court filings increasingly tie Rhodes to the alleged conspiracy.

While Rhodes has roundly rejected claims that Oath Keepers engaged in a conspiracy, communications referenced in the latest superseding indictment against 10 defendants indicate Rhodes was in close contact with at least one of them at the time of the assault.

The government says Rhodes placed a call to Kelly Meggs, the Florida leader, that lasted about 15 seconds at 2:15 p.m. Then, according to the government, Meggs called Rhodes at 2:32 p.m. and spoke for one minute and 27 seconds. Three minutes later, according to the government, Meggs, Watkins, Crowl and five others formed a "stack" that "maneuvered in an organized and practiced fashion up the steps on the east side of the Capitol — each individual keeping with at least one hand on the shoulder of the other in front of them."

At the top of the steps, the government said, "the stack joined and supported the crowd that was pushing forward toward the doors, assaulting the officers guarding the doors, throwing objects and spraying chemical towards the officers and the doors, and pulling violently on the doors."

At about 2:40 p.m., according to the government, "the crowd breached the doors," and the Oath Keepers "forcibly entered the Capitol building."

'The mask slips': Proud Boys joining white supremacists in 'White Lives Matter' rallies across the US

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White supremacists on Telegram are organizing a series of simultaneous rallies under the banner of "White Lives Matter" in major American cities scheduled for April 11, with active participation and promotion in some locales by members of the Proud Boys.

The rallies mark a rare instance of overt white nationalists openly mobilizing in the streets since the constituent organizations of the violent 2017 Unite the Right rally were severely hobbled the following year by sustained opposition in the streets from antifascist counter-protesters, litigation, infighting and organizational dysfunction. For the Proud Boys, whose members are facing serious federal charges for conspiracy to disrupt the transfer of executive power during the assault on the US Capitol, participation in the "White Lives Matter" rallies reflects a brazen determination to maintain a street presence and an apparent diminishing concern about being branded as racists.

The @whitelivesmattermarch channel that created the framework for local racists to organize dozens of spinoff rallies was launched on the social media platform Telegram on March 25. The rallying cause of the simultaneous demonstrations — "to raise awareness for whites being the victims of massive interracial crime" — is a false claim that lies at the heart of white supremacist propaganda. In a "Q&A" post, the anonymous user behind the @whitelivesmattermarch channel directs potential supporters interested in learning "more about anti-White hate" to another channel that is comprised solely of items relating homicides and other violent crimes with photos of white victims and Black perpetrators.

The specific rallies are organized by locals creating new Telegram channels using the initials of states or cities. In some cases, the channels for local rallies appear to be little more than trial balloons to gauge local interest. The creator of the @WLMSouthCarolina channel, launched on March 25, posted: "Lets [sic] get a count of where everyone is, comment your city." As of Tuesday, the channel had picked up 24 subscribers, but no one had commented. Among the more active channels, Ohio and Oregon have attracted around eight unique users calling out their hometowns to try to settle on a central gathering place.

In a channel set up for the DC-Maryland-Virginia region, two self-identified Proud Boys users eagerly talked up the rally. Others in the chat openly identified as white nationalists through their words, usernames or catchphrases in their Telegram bios. "I am a Fascist," wrote a user named "James Dagny," who also shared a documentary about American Nazi Party founder George Lincoln Rockwell in the chat. A user named "Blaine" chose the Nazi slogan "Blood & Soil" for their bio. Someone whose username celebrates the gas used by the Nazis to murder Jews in gas chambers during the Holocaust, wrote, "I'm in."

In the chat, a Proud Boy account under the username "Joe Bonadio" responded to the self-identified fascist user by commenting, "I'm with ya!"

Another Proud Boy account under the username "HEFF" commented, "#fuckantifa proudboys will be the there in plain clothes or not."

Hampton Russel Oulette, the president of the Northern Virginia chapter of the Proud Boys, posted in response to HEFF: "POYB." The acronym stands for "Proud of your boy" and is used by the gang as a salute or signal of approval.

Oulette, whose Telegram handle is "GOV.HAM-OMLETTE," told Raw Story in a Telegram message that he personally doesn't think the "White Lives Matter" rallies are "a good look."

"But I'll do whatever my brothers decided to do," he wrote. "I've voiced my opinion but loyal to my guys so its [sic] it's up in the air. I personally don't wanna March with any hate groups or be associated."

He added, "There are other chapters going."

Oulette claimed to not know who is organizing the rallies.

"Was just asked to monitor it… so we are not caught off guard to what's going on in our state," he wrote somewhat cryptically. "We like to know who's doing what here… we have an event coming up just not 100% on the day."

The DC-area Proud Boys are not the only ones interested in the rallies.

A user named "DIRT2º posted in the discussion hosted by "White Lives Matter – 04/11": "Need someone from bama that I can help organize."

User "BACONndEGGS," whose avatar includes the initials W-L-M inside the Proud Boys' traditional wreath, hailed a message from the host channel declaring that "white people will not bow down" with the Proud Boys salute: "Uhuru."

Since their founding in 2016, Proud Boys leaders and rank-and-file members have strenuously objected to being described as "white supremacist" despite some members including Chairman Enrique Tarrio participating in the Unite the Right rally and rallying alongside neo-Confederate groups. But Megan Squire, a computer scientist at Elon University who monitors right-wing extremist groups, said it's not all that surprising to see them now openly associating with white nationalists.

"To use one of their phrases, 'The mask slips,'" Squire said. "Underneath, they are who they are, and this is who they are. The question is, were the Proud Boys always that way or did it happen halfway through? A lot of times these guys will say, 'You pushed us to this, with all the de-platforming.' That's patently false. The history is the Proud Boys have been promoting very thinly veiled white supremacy. They called it 'Western chauvinism.' It's white supremacy — shocker. Now, we can call it what it is, and they can call it what it is."

The "Black-on-white crime" narrative promoted by the "White Lives Matter" rallies is a timeworn appeal by white power groups.

In a 2018 article for the Southern Poverty Law Center, Senior Research Analyst Cassie Miller called it "the biggest lie in the white supremacist propaganda playbook." A large part of its staying power is that it's deeply rooted in the American psyche. As Miller pointed out, false and harmful claims about Black people being inherently violent have formed the core justification for "slavery, lynching, Jim Crow and various forms of mass incarceration."

In recent decades, the "Black-on-white crime" falsehood has received a signal boost from Jared Taylor, a Yale-educated academic who produced The Color of Crime: Race, Crime and Violence in America, a 1999 report that was updated in 2005 and again in 2016. Taylor drew his statistics from the "1994 Crime Victimization Survey released by the US Department of Justice, but Miller noted that Taylor's claim that crime has a racial and biological basis overlooks the obvious culprit.

"On average, African Americans were — and remain — far poorer and more likely to live in disadvantaged neighborhoods than whites," Miller wrote. "Concentrated poverty has a criminogenic effect: lack of access to jobs, increased idle time and poorer educational opportunities all increase one's chances of engaging in criminal behavior, and the effect is the same for Black and white people. One study released three years before The Color of Crime, found that when sociologists controlled for structural disadvantages, there were significant differences between crime rates in Black and white communities."

Another fallacy promoted by Taylor over the past several decades, which is being recycled through the "White Lives Matter" planning chats, is that crimes committed by Black perpetrators against white victims uniformly qualify as "hate crimes," but Miller noted that "few would meet the FBI's hate crime definition of an 'offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender's bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity."

The slogan "White Lives Matter" was originally promoted in neo-Nazi circles in 2015 and 2016, as an obvious cooptation of Black Lives Matter. Although lacking originality, it simultaneously mocks Black people killed by the police and substitutes white people as supposed victims.

In a video circulated by the @whitelivesmattermarch host channel, a bearded white man dressed in a hunting jacket intones, "For far too long, the media has ignored some of the most heinous and grotesque crimes committed against our people." After a standard recitation of white victims of violence by Black perpetrators, the narrators concludes, "These are a few names that most people've never heard of. Yet you'll hear 'George Floyd' and all these other people who're criminals. You know, everybody knows who Trayvon Martin was. Everybody knows who Breonna Taylor was. So why does the world know their names, but not the name of our victims?"

The words are uncannily similar to some of the writing in a manifesto by Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old white man who murdered nine Black parishioners at Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, SC in 2015.

Roof wrote in his manifesto that the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin prompted him "type in the words 'black on white crime' into Google, and I have never been the same since that day." The search led him to the Council of Conservative Citizens, one of the many white supremacist groups whose website included a section on white victims of crimes committed by Black people.

"There were pages and pages of these brutal black on White murders," Roof wrote. "I was in disbelief. At this moment I realized that something was very wrong. How could the news be blowing up the Trayvon Martin case while hundreds of these black on White murders got ignored."

Another video shared by the White Lives Matter host channel displays text reading, "The great replacement can no longer be called a 'conspiracy theory.'" White supremacists marching in Charlottesville, Va. in August 2017 chanted, "You will not replace us." Brenton Tarrant, who murdered 51 Muslim worshipers in mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, entitled his manifesto "The Great Replacement." The white supremacists who carried out massacres in a synagogue in Poway, Calif. and Walmart in El Paso, Texas that same year likewise referenced a "great replacement" in their respective manifestoes.

Despite hijacking the "Black Lives Matter" slogan, the "Q&A" message for the rallies disavows any equivalency, rejecting the idea that the rallies are "BLM for White People."

"Marxism is at the core of the anti-White narrative," the document states. "The principles that WLM should follow are those of God, Nature and Nobleness. WLM is a glimpse into the glorious past of White Europeans."

Comically, some of the members of the public chats are unintentionally transparent about their desire to clean up their image in the hope of broadening their appeal.

"The test will be if we are able to get the masses of people who attended the StopTheSteal rallies to come," a user named "Culture War Criminal" wrote in one of the discussion chats. "If we can pull this off and advocate White advocacy this will be a massive step forward."

Another user named "Project Algiz" advised: "Also, remember to keep it optical. True. But optical. For example, I made a decent video yesterday but removed it because I said 'n*****' twice. While I think of us can appreciate this sentiment, it will certainly chase away fence sitters and would-be supporters due to us confirming their suspicions that we may be a 'raAaAaAacist organization.'"

But other users appear to be completely unconcerned about optics.

The White Lives Matter Philadelphia channel celebrates former Mayor Frank Rizzo as "the only White Man who stood up openly here against the Black Riots instigated by Jews in order to destroy White Philadelphia and America!" The channel includes posts quoting from the 1940 Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew, photos of police officers using a German shepherd to attack a Black protesters and "American Nazi Stormtroopers in Center City" Philadelphia in 1962. A post with maps showing demographic changes in Philadelphia from 1940 to 1960 pledges: "The Whites can and will reclaim Philadelphia from these Jews and then we can make this city and country all White again."

The open chats in the planning threads for the White Lives Matter rallies appear to be heavily infiltrated by antifascists posing as Nazis and urging people to stay home to avoid doxing. The infiltration is causing justifiable paranoia and making it difficult to tell who is who.

In the group chat for Anchorage, Alaska, the host affirmed a user named "Jedi counselor" on Monday.

"I share the same sentiment as you my friend," the host wrote. "I'm tired of the cowardice."

"Jedi counselor" replied: "Right and we need to make an army and take back the west coast and take this matter into our own hands."

Then they added: "It's time to say fuck the cops because they are not doing anything about [it]."

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