New Revelation on January 6 Golf Cart Use Points to White House Coordination of Insurrectionists' Transport

This story is long, complex, and almost too odd to believe, but every word of it is true.

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Introduction

Very few Americans who were in Washington on January 6—perhaps none—have as long and well-recorded a history with golf carts as ex-president Donald Trump has.

The Trump-era Secret Service used special golf carts to protect the president during the significant percentage of his presidency he spent on golf courses. According to Golf News Net, the Trump Secret Service golf carts went “19 mph instead of the more common 14 mph”, and “ha[d] specific features [that] golf carts at Trump-owned golf clubs cannot accommodate.”

By May 2020, the minimum amount spent by the Secret Service on golf carts alone—in the forty months since Trump’s inauguration—was $765,425. Golf cart rental vendors used by the Secret Service included Maddox Joines (d.b.a. Sunshine Golf Cars) for Trump’s trips to Mar-a-Lago; Associates Golf Car Service, for his trips to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey; and West Virginia-based Capitol Golf Cars and Utility Vehicles for the former president’s trips to Trump National in northern Virginia.

Trump’s voracious need for golf carts as president has been covered by Business Insider (link), the Washington Post (link), and many other major-media publications—with at least one (the Daily Beast) noting that on occasion the Secret Service’s dealings with golf cart vendors were inexplicably “mysterious” because it seemed that the carts were not going to be used for golfing purposes.

Essentially, what’s clear from all these articles—and I’ve now read a very large number of them—is that between 2017 and 2020, the Secret Service often rented golf carts as part of its presidential protective detail, (1) even when the Service wasn’t sure it would need them, and (2) for general use rather than any uses restricted to golf-course driving.

I wouldn’t have thought anything of all these news stories if not for the fact that the rental and use of golf carts is now central to the FBI’s investigation of the January 6 insurrection, as evidenced by the photo atop this article: a photo recently submitted to a federal court by DOJ in its indictment against members of the Oath Keepers militia.

Golf Carts and the Insurrection: A Brief History

America has long known that golf carts were used by the insurrections. A photo of top Trump political adviser Roger Stone being driven around in a golf cart by an Oath Keeper on January 5, 2021—during the period of time Stone spoke at an event outside the Supreme Court building—went viral in late January, which is when Proof began focusing significant attention (over a dozen or more articles) on Stone’s movements on and immediately before Insurrection Day (see, e.g., here, here, here, here, and here).

{Note: There’s a reason Roger Stone threatened to sue me on Gab back on January 29, 2021, as detailed here in the “History of Proof.” Stone understands that Proof has been on him since Insurrection Day, and won’t let up until everything is known about his actions on January 6.}

Here’s the viral photo of Roger Stone’s Oath Keeper-driven, Insurrection Eve golf cart:

So until a few days ago, the focus of anyone tracking the use of golf carts during the insurrection was solely on Roger Stone, his Oath Keeper bodyguards, and January 5.

Now, per a recently amended federal indictment charging two Oath Keepers, Roberto Minuta of Texas and Joshua James of Alabama, with various January 6 crimes, we’ve discovered that the following bizarre sequence of events unfolded on Insurrection Day:

It’s worth noting that in this indictment charging over a dozen Oath Keepers with a bevy of federal crimes, communications between and amongst Oath Keepers from mid-December through the insurrection are detailed that include many discussions of vehicles and transportation intended for use on Insurrection Day, among them cars, trucks, buses, and the subway. But no mention is made of golf carts, other than above.

Equally important is the fact that none of the Oath Keepers—including Minuta and James—stand charged with stealing any golf carts, perhaps because (as anyone who has ever played a video game will know), Minuta was referring to the video game Grand Theft Auto in his radio communication, rather than the crime of “grand theft auto.”

Grand Theft Auto allows players to steal and drive golf carts—among many other odd modes of transportation—on busy city streets. Some journalists have misunderstood Minuta’s transmission, however, so we’ve lately gotten erroneous reports about the carts’ provenance from some august publications, like Vanity Fair (quote: “[Minuta and James] now stand accused in a new indictment of apparently stealing a golf cart”); some not-so-august ones, like the Daily Beast (quote: “Some [Oath Keeper] members picked unusual vehicles to transport them to the battlefront…[including] stolen golf carts…prosecutors say Robert Minuta, Joshua James, and other militia members swerved around police cars as they rode two stolen buggies towards the Capitol”), and birdcage-liner like the Daily Mail (which quoted the poor work of the Daily Beast).

Even publications with a stronger track record of responsible reporting than the Daily Beast, like BuzzFeed News, offered readers nothing on the golf cart issue beyond what’s already in the Minuta and James indictment, perhaps not realizing that in a criminal conspiracy involving significant logistical coordination, the means of the defendants’ transportation is always important. (I say this as an attorney who began representing criminal defendants at the age of 22—I was certified as a “student-attorney” while in law school under Commonwealth of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Rule 33—and conducted the arraignment, among my first cases, of the alleged getaway driver in a felony murder case with five defendants. So it’s frustrating to see BuzzFeed News tell readers, almost as an aside, “It’s unclear from the indictment where the golf carts came from.” This issue deserves and requires an extensive treatment by major media.)

Needless to say, bad reporting is nothing new at the Daily Beast, and has long been de rigueur at the Daily Mail, but in this case the bad reporting matters. Not only has there been no evidence presented by federal prosecutors that the carts were stolen; not only were no Oath Keepers charged with stealing carts; not only does Minuta not refer to a crime—but rather (by name) a near-universally popular video game—while in a golf cart on his way to the Capitol; but the simple fact is there’s evidence the carts were rented.

And the evidence regarding who rented the golf carts the insurrectionists used is in this Proof article—and could be critical to the FBI’s investigation of Insurrection Day.

Key Data Points in the Tragicomic “Golf Cart Mystery”

Before we solve the “golf cart mystery”—understanding its potentially outsized role in the FBI’s determination of criminal liability for the events of January 6—let’s review the key facts that we know are underlying the FBI’s investigative inquiry on this front:

  1. On January 5, the day before the insurrection, Roger Stone—of the Stop the Steal organization—was driven in a golf cart by an Oath Keeper. At the time the photo of this moment on Insurrection Eve went viral, it was unclear which of the two organizations (Stop the Steal or the Oath Keepers) had rented Stone’s cart, which of course has never been identified as stolen or been alleged to have been stolen.

  2. Stone was guarded by Oath Keepers on both January 5 and January 6, per images and video of both days (see the many links to Proof articles on Roger Stone above).

  3. As has previously been reported at Proof, the next day, January 6, saw two of the three leaders of the Stop the Steal movement—Ali Alexander and Alex Jones—admitted to the Secret Service-guarded VIP area for Trump’s White House Ellipse speech. In a subsequent interview with Roger Stone, Jones confirms that Stone was supposed to join his two Stop the Steal co-organizers in the VIP area.

  4. Also in the VIP area of Trump’s speech was Jessica Watkins, one of the Oath Keepers alleged to have been part of a 30- to 40-person Oath Keeper conspiracy that sought to gas the entirety of Congress in the tunnels beneath the Capitol.

  5. Watkins exchanged text messages with at least one other charged Oath Keeper conspirator, Donovan Crowl, about providing security for Stone—who, again, was supposed to be in the VIP area with Watkins on January 6 but never showed up (for reasons that remain dubious, and have been often written about at Proof).

  6. We do not know if other Oath Keepers (like Minuta and James) were in the VIP area with Watkins at the White House Ellipse when the first reports came via radio communications from Oath Keepers at the Capitol that the Capitol was being breached. We just know that Minuta and James were not at the Capitol—they were at another location—when they found out that the Capitol was being stormed and that they needed to get there quickly, a feat they accomplished via golf carts (see photo atop this article).

  7. We know that Minuta and James were two of Roger Stone’s bodyguards, meaning that if Watkins—who had planned to be a Stone bodyguard—was at Trump’s VIP area on January 6 alongside two Stop the Steal co-organizers awaiting the arrival of the third co-organizer (Stone), she may well have been accompanied by the two Oath Keepers, Minuta and James, who we already know were on Stone’s protective detail at that point.

  8. So in resolving who paid for the golf carts, and where the carts set out from on Insurrection Day, three key investigative inquiries are these:

    • Did anyone else ride a golf cart to the Capitol during the insurrection?

    • Was any such other person connected to the Stop the Steal movement?

    • Was any such other person known to be in the VIP area of Trump’s speech?

We now have answers to all three of these questions, and the answers strongly suggest that the carts were paid for by Stop the Steal—which matters because it was the Trump White House and Trump campaign that orchestrated all of the funding for the Stop the Steal events, and therefore for any large expenditures made by the Stop the Steal effort.

The Story of Mark Finchem—and Why It Matters

The key figure in resolving this mystery is someone you’ve almost certainly never heard of: Mark Finchem, a Republican representative from the Arizona House.

Per the Phoenix New Times, “text messages [from January 5 and 6]…show Finchem coordinating with [Stop the Steal’s] Ali Alexander, a prominent conservative activist who helped organize the infamous January 6 rally at the U.S. Capitol that became a deadly riot, about Finchem’s appearance at the event.”

The New Times adds that “in a recent interview, [Alexander] said the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement in Arizona ‘started with’ Finchem.”

That Mark Finchem ended up in the nation’s capital on January 6 as a consequence of his involvement with Stop the Steal is certain. As the New Times writes, “Finchem was in Washington, DC on January 6 and posted a picture of the protesters on the steps of the Capitol with a sympathetic caption…he’s claimed publicly that he was there to give a speech at the ‘Stop the Steal’ rally…”

The question of which Stop the Steal rally Finchem was supposed to speak at—either the January 5 Rally for Save America at Freedom Plaza, the January 6 March to Save America event at the White House Ellipse, or the aborted Wild Protest speech slated for the Capitol’s front steps immediately after Trump’s Ellipse speech—is resolved by Finchem’s now-public text messages to Alexander:

On the morning of January 6, the day of the riot, Alexander sent Finchem directions on how to navigate the [Ellipse] rally. “Go to the front of the line, tell them that you are in the blue section VIP [for Trump’s Ellipse speech]”, Alexander wrote. “State representative with the Stop the Steal Coalition.” Finchem later asked the [text] thread [involving Ali Alexander and conservative activist Michael Coudrey] to confirm that he was still expected to give a speech [at the January 6 Wild Protest event] at the Capitol [front steps]. “You still have me speaking at the Capitol?” Finchem wrote. Alexander responded, “Yes.”

Coudrey is infamous not only for getting banned from Twitter after the insurrection, but tweeting in mid-insurrection that certain insurrectionists’ garb “has the hallmarks of antifa provocation”—a nasty piece of disinformation that was quickly retweeted by a top Trump congressional ally and Alexander co-conspirator, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ).

So what was Coudrey himself doing during the insurrection? Not only does the Phoenix New Times answer this question, but in doing so it manages to change the course of the FBI’s investigation into the horrible events of January 6. Reporting on Finchem—once again, the co-founder of Arizona’s Stop the Steal chapter—the New Times writes this (emphasis supplied):

Other [January 6] text messages [between Ali Alexander, Mark Finchem, and Michael Coudrey] show Coudrey telling Finchem to get to the Capitol and Finchem saying that he got “swept up” by the crowd and that he is riding a golf cart towards the building.

Needless to say, golf carts aren’t often seen driving the streets of Washington—and never during an armed rebellion in an area where police barricades are everywhere.

But as we’ve seen, Finchem was special. He had a key role in the organization that was at that moment sponsoring a speech by the President of the United States of America. Indeed, Finchem’s key role in the Stop the Steal movement is further underscored by the New Times, which indicates that the Arizona House Republican was clearly atop the hierarchy of coordinators at Stop the Steal when he climbed into that golf cart:

Their [Mark Finchem and Ali Alexander’s pre-insurrection] correspondence wasn’t limited to discussions regarding Finchem’s appearance at the January 6 rally [at the Capitol]. Finchem and Alexander exchanged messages over the course of December 2020 about tweets, various “Stop the Steal” rallies, news developments, and strategy.

So what is radical Trumpist agitator and insurrectionist Mark Finchem doing now?

He’s preparing a run for Secretary of State of Arizona—in which role he would control the state’s next presidential election.

{Note: This Finchem content is also available at the Arizona Republic, but as the relevant article is for paying subscribers only, I’ve used the New Times instead. Writing on the coverage in the Republic, the New Times reports that “On January 13, [Arizona] Democrats called on the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the role of local elected officials—including Finchem—in causing the violence at the Capitol. Last week, [Arizona] House Democrats called for Finchem to be expelled [from the Arizona House] because he ‘participated in, encouraged, and incited the events of January 6’ and was complicit in ‘insurrection and rebellion.’ Despite facing dozens of ethics complaints over his conduct, Finchem was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing by the Republican chair of the ethics committee in the Arizona House of Representatives, according to the Arizona Republic.”}

Why the Golf Carts Matter Now

Many Americans don’t realize that the Stop the Steal event on January 6—and possibly the one on January 5 as well—were not coordinated by the organizations that signed up for the permits for those events.

As Proof has detailed, in mid- to late December of 2020, all of these organizations were commandeered—behind the scenes—by the Trump political team, including men and women inside the White House and others connected to the Trump 2020 presidential campaign. Indeed, key figures who coordinated the Stop the Steal event of January 6 in particular were people on Trump’s payroll, including the follow:

  • Kimberly Guilfoyle, presidential adviser and girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.; 

  • Katrina Pierson, 2016 Trump campaign spokeswoman and 2020 Trump campaign adviser, assigned by Trump pre-insurrection to be a liaison between the White House and grassroots organizations; 

  • Brian Jack, the White House political director; 

  • Anthony Ornato, former presidential detail head at the Secret Service and White House Chief of Operations on January 6; 

  • Tim Unes, 2016 Trump campaign Deputy Director of Advance and founder of Event Strategies (the production vendor for the March to Save America); 

  • Paul Manafort, 2016 Trump campaign manager and executive with Tim Unes’s Event Strategies);

  • Caroline Wren, National Finance Consultant for the 2020 Trump campaign, “VIP advisor” on the Women for America First rally permit, political aide to Kimberly Guilfoyle, and employee of Trump Victory, a Trump-RNC partnership; 

  • Maggie Mulvaney, Director of Finance Operations for the 2020 Trump campaign, niece of former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, and “VIP lead” on the Women for America First rally permit;

  • Justin Caporale, 2020 Trump campaign aide, former top aide to First Lady Melania Trump, and Project Manager for the March to Save America; 

  • Hannah Salem, Director of Press Advance for the 2020 Trump campaign, former Special Assistant to the President, and Operations Manager for the March to Save America; and 

  • Arina Grossu, Outreach Coordinator for the Trump administration Department of Health and Human Services’ “Religious Freedom Office.”

These 11 individuals, per the pro-Trump grassroots activists they often acrimoniously supplanted, like Cindy Chafian, handled not just planning and logistics but—wait for it—all budgeting, which was the exclusive province of Guilfoyle aide Caroline Wren.

And if there’s one thing we know about golf carts from news coverage of them during the Trump era, it’s that golf carts can be expensive.

And if there’s a second thing we know about golf carts in the Trump era, it’s that the Secret Service had gotten very good at figuring out how to get them on short notice.

And if there’s a third thing we know—in this case, about the January 6 insurrection—it’s that both Alex Jones and Ali Alexander are on video saying that they were working with the Secret Service before the Stop the Steal event at which the Service’s protectee Trump was going to speak, and were still working with the Service in the VIP area of Trump’s January 6 speech (the same area Oath Keeper Jessica Watkins was waiting for Roger Stone in, with Stone having been transported by golf cart by Watkins’ fellow Oath Keepers fifteen hours earlier) to coordinate the start of the march on the Capitol.

Conclusion

What all of the above strongly suggests is that the “second location” that Roger Stone bodyguards Rob Minuta and Josh James were at with golf carts on January 6 was either at or in the immediate vicinity of the VIP area of Trump’s speech, and that the latter two men had coordinated with Stop the Steal—which had rented the carts, and was working with the Secret Service (incidentally, known golf cart rental-experts)—for use of the carts on that day.

Given that Ali Alexander has said that he was in phone and text communication with the Trump campaign in the 24 hours leading up to the insurrection, as well as during the insurrection itself, it becomes impossible to see the golf carts pictured atop this article as being randomly available modes of transportation that simply popped up on the insurrectionists’ radar when they needed them like new items in a video game.

Rather, the evidence suggests that elements connected to the Trump White House and Trump presidential campaign oversaw the budgeting that paid for these golf carts, which—not to put too fine a point on it—were a key means of transport for insurrectionists on Insurrection Day, indeed not just for Roger Stone bodyguards and Oath Keeper co-conspirators Minuta and James, but for Stop the Steal insurrectionist Mark Finchem.

Ali Alexander has already publicly opined, on video, that he was thrown under the bus (in his view) by the Trump campaign, and specifically—he says—by Katrina Pierson, who was overseeing Wren’s work on the Stop the Steal events. For all that he cannot be deemed trustworthy, Alexander credibly makes the same case that other pro-Trump activists have started making in public: that every aspect of the January 6 events was handled by the White House and Trump campaign rather than the entities the White House and Trump campaign had sign public-facing documents relating to January 6.

These signatures increasingly seem like a deliberate maneuver to distance Trump and his political team from events and conduct they in fact directly orchestrated—indeed, doing so with such an iron fist that Alexander claims grassroots organizers were trying to physically eject Trump agents from Trump’s Ellipse speech in the minutes before it began, so angry were they that all elements of the event, from speakers to its graphics package to its budgeting, had been commandeered by the president and his advisers.

If true—and so far the evidence points in that direction—these golf carts, infamously driven by now-indicted insurrections on the day the Capitol was violently attacked—were arranged by Trump and his team, and as such are evidence of their criminal intent in the most seditious attack on America’s seat of government since the War of 1812.

The question now: did those golf carts drive 19 mph on Insurrection Day, or 14 mph?

The answer to that question may determine how many members of the Secret Service deserve to be indicted for the events of January 6 before the FBI’s investigation is over.