Rolling Stone Implies Congressmen Abetted 6 January Violence
A vague but inflammatory report sheds little light on the situation.
A Rolling Stone report by Hunter Walker, “EXCLUSIVE: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff,” is making the rounds. There’s not much there there.
To be clear: Several Republican lawmakers—not to mention former President Trump and some of his staff—egged on the Big Lie and laid the groundwork for thousands of outraged supporters to come to Washington and demand that Congress ignore if not overturn the Electoral College results. And I would not be shocked if some of them actively helped people get into the Capitol. But nothing in this report substantiates more than what we already knew.
As the House investigation into the Jan. 6 attack heats up, some of the planners of the pro-Trump rallies that took place in Washington, D.C., have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Two of these people have spoken to Rolling Stone extensively in recent weeks and detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.
Rolling Stone separately confirmed a third person involved in the main Jan. 6 rally in D.C. has communicated with the committee. This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.
We never learn who the people making these allegations are beyond that they were “planners of the pro-Trump rallies.” How high-level? were they planners of the storming of the Capitol?
More importantly, that “multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent” isn’t new news. But the key is the “turned violent” part. It’s one thing to go along with rallies supporting Trump’s outrageous claims that the election was stolen from him. It’s another, indeed, to plan to storm the Capitol and violently stop the count.
We know that a significant number of people came prepared to do the latter. Groups like the Proud Boys were at the forefront of that effort. We don’t know whether Trump himself anticipated, much less planned for, the violence that day—but we do know he did nothing to stop it for quite some time after it was being broadcast live on every network in the country. Did Members of Congress, Meadows, or other high-level Republicans participate in planning for the violence? Or are they simply complicit in setting the stage for the violence that came.
Again: Both are bad. But one is merely shameful and outrageous while the other is a felony. One is a cause for disrepute and being ousted in the next election; the other is a violation of the oath of office and permanent expulsion from the institution.
The two sources, both of whom have been granted anonymity due to the ongoing investigation, describe participating in “dozens” of planning briefings ahead of that day when Trump supporters broke into the Capitol as his election loss to President Joe Biden was being certified.
“I remember Marjorie Taylor Greene specifically,” the organizer says. “I remember talking to probably close to a dozen other members at one point or another or their staffs.”
For the sake of clarity, we will refer to one of the sources as a rally organizer and the other as a planner. Rolling Stone has confirmed that both sources were involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse on Jan. 6. Trump spoke at that rally and encouraged his supporters to march to the Capitol. Some members of the audience at the Ellipse began walking the mile and a half to the Capitol as Trump gave his speech. The barricades were stormed minutes before the former president concluded his remarks.
These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process.
Along with Greene, the conspiratorial pro-Trump Republican from Georgia who took office earlier this year, the pair both say the members who participated in these conversations or had top staffers join in included Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).
“We would talk to Boebert’s team, Cawthorn’s team, Gosar’s team like back to back to back to back,” says the organizer.
I don’t know much about several of these folks but it would not shock me if Green, Boebert, Brooks, and Gohmert were directly involved in planning the violence. But nothing in this report directly asserts that they did. It’s all by implication.
This, several paragraphs into the story, is actually the most damning bit of new information:
And Gosar, who has been one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters, allegedly took things a step further. Both sources say he dangled the possibility of a “blanket pardon” in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests.
“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer says, “that he’d spoken to the president about it in the Oval … in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support.”
The report never gets around to specifying what the pardon would be for but it’s clearly not for committing acts of violence in the Capitol but rather for unspecified things in the past already under investigation. Still, the dangling of pardons—which, granted, nobody in Congress can offer—is more than a little sketchy.
There’s a whole lot more story left but nothing that adds to our understanding.
Again, I wouldn’t be shocked if we learn a lot more as the investigation unfolds. If it turns out that Greene, Brooks, and others actively fomented an attack on the Capitol, it would not radically alter my opinion of them as public servants. But this report merely insinuates, rather than charges, anything like that.