Capitol Hill rioters: ‘US Congress members helped us plan attack’

Protest organisers claim to have met ‘dozens’ of times with lawmakers and White House staff

Pro-Trump protesters storm the Captiol building.
(Image credit: Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

The organisers of the pro-Donald Trump protest on Capitol Hill claim to have plotted the deadly riot during multiple meetings with members of Congress and staff in the former president’s White House.

According to Rolling Stone, people who helped orchestrate the demonstration “​​have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the US Capitol”.

And they allege that “multiple members of Congress were intimately involved” in the planning behind “both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the 6 January events that turned violent”, the magazine reported.

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Inside job?

Although there have been “prior indications that members of Congress were involved”, said Rolling Stone, the House committee investigating the uprising is now “hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses” detailing “the purported role and its scope” played by lawmakers.

Two people giving evidence to the congressional investigation reportedly told the magazine that “they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they described as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence”.

The two sources, “both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation”, described being involved in “dozens” of planning meetings. One claimed to recall meeting with Republican lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene “specifically”.

“I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs,” they added.

The unnamed organisers also said Republican lawmakers Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Andy Biggs and Louie Gohmert either “participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in”.

Rolling Stone “separately obtained documentary evidence that both sources were in contact with Gosar and Boebery” on 6 January.

Described as “one of the most prominent defenders” of the rioters, Boebert is also alleged to have floated the possibility of a “blanket pardon” for the two sources “in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests”.

Republican lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene

Republican lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene
(Image credit: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” one of the organisers said. “That he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval Office... in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up.”

Some of those named by the two sources had already been linked to the riots. In January, “conservative talking head and activist Ali Alexander said he worked alongside three Republican lawmakers to plan the attack���, as The Independent reported at the time.

In a quickly deleted video, Alexander named Biggs, Brooks and Gosar, and claimed that their goal “was to put pressure on lawmakers inside to overturn the election in favour of Trump”, the paper added.

“We four schemed up putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in the video. “[We hoped to] change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”

Biggs and Brooks denied that they had helped Alexander organise the rally, while Gosar did not respond to requests for comment.

Fellow Republican lawmaker Taylor Greene also posted a now deleted video on Twitter in which she said she had been involved in a “great planning session” for the 6 January “objection”.

Other members of Congress have claimed that the attack “was an inside job” too, and that some officers in the Capitol Police aided the rioters, Politico said.

Lawmakers “uniformly praised most Capitol Police officers for their heroic response to the riots”, in which many “suffered injuries defending members, aides and journalists”, the site said.

But videos also “surfaced showing a small number of officers pulling down barricades”. Some members of Congress suggested during a “three-and-a-half-hour caucus call” in the immediate aftermath of the violence that “some Capitol Police officers were not just looking the other way but actually involved”.

Days later, the chair of a House appropriations subcommittee overseeing the law enforcement agency “shared the shocking news that two Capitol Police officers had been suspended and ten to 15 were under investigation for their behaviour during the riot”, Axios reported at the time.

Committee chair Tim Ryan, a Democrat, said that “one was the selfie officer”, who posed for photos with rioters, and “another was an officer who put a MAGA [Make America Great Again] hat on and started directing people around” the Capitol building.

‘No problem testifying’

Congress has voted in favour of prosecuting former Trump aide Steve Bannon over his refusal to testify to the committee investigating the January uprising.

Republican senators also blocked a bill earlier this year to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the violence, arguing that “the riot is already being investigated by congressional panels”, the BBC reported.

The riot is instead being investigated by a congressional inquiry, held by a select committee of the US House of Representatives.

One of the two sources who spoke to Rolling Stone told the magazine that they would “have no problem openly testifying” in front of the inquiry.

Both of the attack organisers reportedly “made clear that they still believe in Trump’s agenda” and “have questions about how his election loss occurred”.

“They are concerned that Democrats gained an unfair advantage in the race due to perceived social media censorship of Trump allies and the voting rules that were implemented as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” according to the magazine.

But despite “their remaining affinity” for the former president, the duo “say they were motivated to come forward because of their concerns about how the pro-Trump protests against the election ultimately resulted in the violent attack”.

Responding to their claims, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was evacuated from her office during the riot, tweeted that “any member of Congress who helped plot a terrorist attack on our nation’s Capitol must be expelled”.

“Those responsible remain a danger to our democracy, our country, and human life in the vicinity of our Capitol and beyond,” she added.

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