Speed Reads

capitol riot aftermath

Before Jan. 6, former aide to Roger Stone encouraged Trump supporters to 'descend on the Capitol'

Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Republican operative Roger Stone, was part of a conference call of supporters of then–President Donald Trump a week before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and he encouraged them to "descend on the Capitol" while Congress met to finalize the electoral count, The New York Times reports.

The Times obtained a recording of the Dec. 30, 2020, phone call, and says Sullivan — a social media consultant who worked for a political action committee run by Stone, one of Trump's longtime friends and advisers — told those on the line that the election had been stolen from Trump. After declaring that they should "descend on the Capitol," Sullivan claimed he was "not inciting violence or or any kind of riots," but they needed to make lawmakers "understand that people are breathing down their necks."

Sullivan went on to say Trump was going to impose martial law and had no plans to give up the presidency and concede to Joe Biden, the Times reports. "Biden will never be in that White House," Sullivan said. "That's my promise to each and every one of you."

The Justice Department has expanded its criminal investigation of the Capitol riot and is looking at those involved in the planning of rallies before the attack. It is not clear if anyone on the phone call with Sullivan went on to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Sullivan told the Times he was only sharing "some encouragement" to people "who all felt their votes had been disenfranchised in the 2020 elections."

Sullivan also said he was asked to join the call by a group of anti-vaccine activists who were hosting a "small, permitted event" at the Capitol on Jan. 6. "I only promoted peaceful solutions where Americans could raise their voices and be heard as expressed in our First Amendment," he said in the statement. "I in no way condone the violence of any protesters." Read more at The New York Times.