Lazy Caturday Reads: Organizing The InsurrectionPosted: January 30, 2021
With each passing day, we learn more about the January 6 coup attempt and the people who supported and planned it. It’s clear at this point that it was in fact at serious efforts to overthrow the U.S. government. And, as I wrote on Thursday, it appears that there were meetings held at the White House and Trump’s DC Hotel to plan January 6 activities. The time has come for accountability.
Organizing the January 6 rally:
From today’s Wall Street Journal: Jan. 6 Rally Funded by Top Trump Donor, Helped by Alex Jones, Organizers Say.
The rally in Washington’s Ellipse that preceded the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol was arranged and funded by a small group including a top Trump campaign fundraiser and donor facilitated by far-right show host Alex Jones.
Mr. Jones personally pledged more than $50,000 in seed money for a planned Jan. 6 event in exchange for a guaranteed “top speaking slot of his choice,” according to a funding document outlining a deal between his company and an early organizer for the event.
Mr. Jones also helped arrange for Julie Jenkins Fancelli, a prominent donor to the Trump campaign and heiress to the Publix Super Markets Inc. chain, to commit about $300,000 through a top fundraising official for former President Trump’s 2020 campaign, according to organizers. Her money paid for the lion’s share of the roughly $500,000 rally at the Ellipse where Mr. Trump spoke.
Another far-right activist and leader of the “Stop the Steal” movement, Ali Alexander, helped coordinate planning with Caroline Wren, a fundraising official who was paid by the Trump campaign for much of 2020 and who was tapped by Ms. Fancelli to organize and fund an event on her behalf, organizers said. On social media, Mr. Alexander had targeted Jan. 6 as a key date for supporters to gather in Washington to contest the 2020-election certification results. The week of the rally, he tweeted a flyer for the event saying: “DC becomes FORT TRUMP starting tomorrow on my orders!” [….]
Messrs. Jones and Alexander had been active in the weeks before the event, calling on supporters to oppose the election results and go to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Mr. Alexander, for instance, tweeted on Dec. 30 about the scheduled Jan. 6 count for lawmakers to certify the Electoral College vote at the Capitol, writing: “If they do this, everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building.”
A hodgepodge of different pro-Trump groups were planning various events on Jan. 6. Several of them, led by the pro-Trump Women for America First, helped coordinate the Ellipse event; another group splintered off to lead a rally the night before, at which Mr. Jones ended up speaking, and the group organized by Mr. Alexander planned a protest outside the Capitol building.
Right-wing religious nuts were also involved in planning the insurrection. Sarah Posner at Reveal: How the Christian right helped foment insurrection.
The Jan. 6 Save America March, where then-President Donald Trump incited a crowd to attack the U.S. Capitol, opened with a prayer. Trump’s longtime spiritual adviser and White House adviser, the Florida televangelist Paula White, called on God to “give us a holy boldness in this hour.” Standing at the same podium where, an hour later, Trump would exhort the crowd to “fight like hell,” White called the election results into question, asking God to let the people “have the assurance of a fair and a just election.” Flanked by a row of American flags, White implored God to “let every adversary against democracy, against freedom, against life, against liberty, against justice, against peace, against righteousness be overturned right now in the name of Jesus.”
Within hours, insurrectionists had surrounded the Capitol, beaten police, battered down barricades and doors, smashed windows and rampaged through the halls of the Capitol, breaching the Senate chamber. In video captured by The New Yorker, men ransacked the room, rifling through senators’ binders and papers, searching for evidence of what they claimed was treason. Then, standing on the rostrum where the president of the Senate presides, the group paused to pray “in Christ’s holy name.”
Men raised their arms in the air as millions of evangelical and charismatic parishioners do every Sunday and thanked God for allowing them “to send a message to all the tyrants, the communists and the globalists, that this is our nation, not theirs.” They thanked God “for allowing the United States of America to be reborn.”
Who were the “Christian” backers of the attempted coup?
Coverage of the Capitol insurrection has focused on such far-right instigators as the White supremacist Proud Boys and the Three Percenters, a militia group. But a reconstruction of the weeks leading up Jan. 6 shows how a Christian-right group formed to “stop the steal” worked to foment a bellicose Christian narrative in defense of Trump’s coup attempt and justify a holy war against an illegitimate state. In late November, two federal workers, Arina Grossu – who had previously worked for the Christian-right advocacy group Family Research Council – and Rob Weaver, formed a new Christian right group, the Jericho March. The new group’s goal, according to a news release announcing its launch, was to “prayerfully protest and call on government officials to cast light on voter fraud, corruption, and suppression of the will of the American people in this election.” In fact, the Jericho March would help lay the groundwork for the insurrection.
The group held its first rally in the nation’s capital Dec. 12, the same day other protests against the democratic process took place there. That night in Washington, the protests devolved into violence as armed members of the Proud Boys roamed the city’s streets looking to fight, stole a Black Lives Matter banner from a historic Black church and set it on fire. The Jericho March rally, which had run most of the afternoon on the National Mall, featured a lineup of some the right’s most incendiary figures, blending conspiracies and battle cries with appeals to Christianity. Eric Metaxas, a popular author, radio host and unrelenting promoter of the false claim that the election was fraudulent, was the emcee.
In an interview from the rally posted on the influential disinformation site The Epoch Times, Weaver compared the marchers he enlisted to the capital to the story of Joshua’s army in the Bible, which encircled the city of Jericho as priests blew trumpets, causing the walls to tumble down so the army could invade. Grossu told an interviewer that the election had been “stolen” from Trump, citing Trump lawyer Sidney Powell’s baseless claims about voting irregularities. Grossu promised, “God can reveal all the election fraud and corruption that stole the election from him.”
David Corn at Mother Jones: “Stop the Steal” Organizer Called for “Execution” of Trump’s Foes.
Weeks before the murderous mob of insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory, a leader of the so-called Stop the Steal movement stood before a crowd of angry Donald Trump loyalists in California and called for the “execution” of those who had supposedly plotted against Trump. Afterward, he posted video of his demand for blood on YouTube.
On December 12, Trump supporters, ahead of the official counting of electoral votes, staged protests across the country, with the main demonstration in Washington leading to violence, as the Proud Boys rampaged through the district and clashed with Antifa activists. A smaller gathering occurred in Huntington Beach, California. One hundred or so Trump devotees, some waving Trump and “Fuck Biden” flags, assembled at the town’s picturesque pier. The man leading that protest was Alan Hostetter, a police-chief-turned-yoga-instructor who last year became a prominent opponent of COVID shutdowns in the Golden State.
Hostetter, who heads a group called the American Phoenix Project, praised the Trumpers, “as America from the ground-up fights back agains this communist takeover of our country.” Reading from a prepared text, he declared, “Both foreign and domestic enemies and traitors surround us. They are protected and enabled by a corrupt and evil…mainstream media. And this mainstream media joined forces with an even more corrupt group of tech tyrants in the Silicon Valley.”
As the demonstrators cheered, he said, “President Trump and his ground troops here with the patriots—we’re going to fix this….There must, absolutely must be a reckoning. There must be justice. President Trump must be inaugurated on January 20.”
Hotsetter had a very specific idea of justice: “The enemies and traitors of America, both foreign and domestic, must be held accountable. And they will. There must be long prison terms, while execution is the just punishment for the ringleaders of this coup.” A woman at the front of the crowd yelled, “Gitmo!” Standing next to Hotsetter, thoughout this violent rant, was former GOP congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who long represented the area before losing his seat in 2018. (When Rohrabacher spoke, he vowed that the assembled would not allow “communists to take control of our government” through election fraud.)
More coverage of the extremist groups involved in the coup attempt:
The New York Times: Tracking the Oath Keepers Who Attacked the Capitol.
Donovan Crowl and Jessica Watkins — both members of the Oath Keepers with ties to its leader — have been accused by federal investigators of coordinating a Jan. 6 Capitol breach in advance and conspiring to obstruct Congress.
Visual evidence shows they, along with a third alleged conspirator named Thomas Caldwell, may not have acted alone. Ms. Watkins and Mr. Crowl first attended President Trump’s rally and then entered the Capitol building in close coordination with at least 10 other people who had been seen wearing insignia of the Oath Keepers, a far-right paramilitary group.
The full identities of the 10 are currently unknown, but after they left the Capitol, all of them can be seen gathered around the Oath Keepers’ leader, Stewart Rhodes, just 70 feet from the building, with Mr. Crowl and Ms. Watkins close by.
Read the rest at the NYT link.
Also from the NYT: Proud Boys Charged With Conspiracy in Capitol Riot.
Federal prosecutors investigating the violent riot at the Capitol this month announced their first conspiracy charges against the Proud Boys on Friday night, accusing two members of the far-right nationalist group of working together to obstruct and interfere with law enforcement officers protecting Congress during the final certification of the presidential election.
In a brief news release, the Justice Department said that an indictment had been filed against two Proud Boys, Dominic Pezzola, of Rochester, N.Y., and William Pepe, of Beacon, N.Y. But by late Friday night, the charging papers had not yet appeared in the Washington federal court database. Both Mr. Pezzola, a former boxer and Marine, and Mr. Pepe, an employee of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, already had been facing lesser charges connected to the Capitol attack.
While more than 170 people have been charged in the deadly assault on the Capitol, most have been accused of relatively minor crimes such as disorderly conduct and unlawful entry. The only other serious conspiracy charges in the inquiry have been brought against three members of the militia group the Oath Keepers, who are accused of preparing for the Jan. 6 rally in Washington as early as one week after the election.
The Proud Boys, a self-described “western chauvinist” group that has a long history of bloody street fights with the activists known as Antifa, have drawn the attention of investigators because they are one of the extremist outfits that had a large presence on Capitol Hill during the assault.
Read more at the link.
Related stories, links only:
The Washington Post: House Democrats building elaborate, emotionally charged case against Trump.
The New York Times: G.O.P. Quiet as Pressure Mounts to Address Lawmaker’s Conspiracy Claims.
The New York Times: Republican Ties to Extremist Groups Are Under Scrutiny.
Kathleen Parker at The Washington Post: The GOP isn’t doomed. It’s dead.
It just gets worse and worse. When will Trump be prosecuted for fomenting the insurrection? As always, this is an open thread.