Donald Trump Spoke Directly to Stop the Steal Leader Alex Jones on Insurrection Day

Jones's confession raises the stakes significantly for the under-review possibility that—based on photo analyses—Jones's lieutenant Owen Shroyer may have been inside Trump's ops center on January 6.

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Introduction

We know that Donald Trump has long been a fan of InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. During the 2016 campaign, in an interview arranged by Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone—who’d later co-organize the Stop the Steal “movement” with Jones and convicted felon Ali Alexander—candidate Trump said the following to a man notorious for alleging that the U.S. government was secretly “turning frogs gay”:

Your reputation is amazing. I will not let you down. You will be very impressed [with my presidential campaign], I hope.

And Jones should’ve been impressed with Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, as PBS reports that following the late 2015 Trump-Jones interview, Trump repeatedly “echoed [Jones] on the campaign trail.” According to PBS,

A striking sequence [in the PBS documentary United States of Conspiracy] illustrates how Trump adopted [Alex] Jones’ claims—voicing them publicly in a way that shocked even InfoWars staffers as [Trump] ran for the highest office in the land. “I mean, sometimes it was, like, verbatim—like, really Trump, really? You’re taking his [Jones] word for it?” former InfoWars staffer Rob Jacobson says….[the documentary] juxtaposes clips of Jones sharing false and conspiratorial claims about then-President Barack Obama, Senator Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton with Trump making strikingly similar claims at rallies and in interviews. The presidential candidate’s echoing of Jones on the campaign trail was a significant development in the mainstreaming of conspiracy theorist thought. And it stunned author Jon Ronson, a renowned expert on extremism who has been following Jones for 20 years. “The big shock was Alex having the ear of a president-to-be”, Ronson says…“Of all the people I’ve interviewed over 35 years, I can think of a lot of people I would rather have [close to] the presidency than Alex Jones. It’s a bit of a shame that one of the most spiraling people I’ve ever met is the one who is influencing Trump.”

Trump and Jones Speak on Insurrection Day

Given the foregoing, and given Jones’s leadership of the Stop the Steal “movement” that organized pro-Trump events in Washington for January 5 (Insurrection Eve) and January 6 (Insurrection Day), perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that Trump and Jones were in direct contact on Insurrection Day—but it is, in part because the exchange has not yet been reported by major media.

It did, however, happen, according to Jones. In a three-minute-plus monologue (see video at 33:24) on his InfoWars program—recorded on January 9 with Roger Stone but apparently not previously reported on—Jones says the following:

I was on record for weeks [saying] that no one was putting money forward for the [Stop the Steal] event on the 5th [January 5] that we spoke at that was peaceful and nice in the [D.C.] Freedom Plaza. And then we [Stop the Steal] were going to have another event on the 6th [January 6], then march to the Capitol peacefully, as we’d already done several times [in late 2020]. And then the White House wanted to take it [the January 6 event] over and move it to the Ellipse. And then I had already put in a lot of money—[but] a nice person [now known to be Publix heiress Julie Jenkins Fancelli] came along and reimburse[d] [me] for most of that.

….

Trump’s people said, “Hey, that’s a big crowd out there”—[I mean they said] a few days before [January 6], “there’s going to be a big crowd”“we want you [Jones] to go out early and wait [until the president is done speaking] and then lead the crowd peacefully [to the Capitol]”….I get there [to the Capitol] and hundreds of thousands had already gotten there. The crowd was so big [that] Trump didn’t believe us [Jones and Alexander] when we said a million people [were at the Capitol]. And so it’s already going crazy and only 100 [sic] or so people out of hundreds and hundreds of thousands broke through [into the Capitol itself].

Now they’re spinning it that Trump and I were honchoing this [sic], when the reason I told the Trump story [the story here, about being asked by the White House to lead the march on the Capitol] was to explain [that] Trump said, “Make sure no one is violent and everyone is peaceful.” The problem was, Trump didn’t believe it would be bigger than 50,000 people, because his other rallies are that big. He said it [to me], he goes [on January 6], “I just see hundreds of thousands out there. Is it a million?” “Yeah”—I was like—“a million, they estimated.” He goes, “Oh, wow!” And then [I said], “Yeah, and I’m supposed to lead that with a bullhorn?”

As photographs published previously at Proof (see one such photo, with insurrectionist Daniel Beck in the foreground, below) confirm, Jones was indeed in the second row of Trump’s VIP area during the latter’s January 6 speech at the Ellipse—with Alexander just a few seats away, per a panorama video taken and posted online by Michael Flynn Jr.—so there’s good reason to believe Jones’s statement about speaking to Trump while in the Ellipse’s VIP area, as well as his subsequent claim that he was asked to lead the march from a starting point near the Ellipse that members of the United States Secret Service would lead him to after Trump had finished speaking.

But Jones didn’t wait until January 9 to make the claim that he’d spoken to Trump on January 6. In the video here, taken on January 6, Jones appears to tell an officer of the United States Capitol Police that he’d just spoken to Trump, saying, “We [InfoWars] just showed up. Trump said come down [to the Capitol].”

While absent Jones’s prior interaction with Trump in the VIP area at the Ellipse one might think Jones was here making a generic statement about the content of Trump’s just-concluded speech—which advised the mob assembled before him to march on the Capitol—in conjunction with Jones’s earlier contact with then the-president, it seems possible that Jones’s reference to having received instructions from Trump was literal.

There are, to be sure, legal implications to Jones’s recorded claim that he told Trump—who’d handpicked him to lead a march on the U.S. Capitol—that the crowd that had showed up was twenty times larger than Trump had anticipated and, moreover, could not be controlled by the man Trump had picked to lead the march. That information, delivered to Trump right before his speech at the Ellipse, should have dramatically influenced the then-president’s choice of language on-stage. But it didn’t, which FBI investigators (or the D.C. Attorney General, who is presently investigating Trump for incitement) may determine, down the line, constitutes evidence that Trump had criminal intent on January 6.

The Owen Shroyer Question

Proof is currently in the process of determining whether the man in the white shirt in the two photos below is the same man—for reasons relevant to the reporting above. The man in the second photo here is Owen Shroyer, Alex Jones’s employee and agent at InfoWars. The first photo was published to the Instagram account of insurrectionist Robert Hyde on January 7, with a notation that the picture had been taken the day before (Insurrection Day). Pictured is Team Trump’s suite of offices at D.C.’s Willard Hotel, which suite Trump lawyer John Eastman (standing here beside the seated Rudy Giuliani, and facing away) described in an interview as Trump’s January 6 “war room.”

Determining if the InfoWars team had access to Trump’s “war room” on Insurrection Day is significant because the tenor of the rhetoric from the InfoWars team—and that team’s intent for January 6—could not have been clearer, despite later attempts to tamp down the volume of the Stop the Steal rally once it had gotten out of control.

While Proof previously provided a detailed analysis of Jones’s incitement to violence on January 5—Insurrection Eve—here’s what his lieutenant Owen Shroyer had to say in introducing Jones at the so-called Rally for Revival at Freedom Plaza (transcript taken from this Bloomberg livestream of the event, at 3:10:10 in the video):

I can tell you that the evil occupiers of Washington, D.C. did not expect this [the Stop the Steal events in D.C. on January 5 and January 6]. And I can tell you that they did everything within their power to stop this from happening, but yet here we are in the rain and the cold. So we salute you! And I can tell you something right now: President Trump is watching this, and he’s very excited at what he sees. And he’s going to have some big announcements for us tomorrow…{pause}…I believe.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “When the government fears the people, there is freedom.” But for too long now, the people have feared the government. Well in January 2021, that changes! And I can tell you that the crooked politicians that occupy our Capitol are in fear right now. You know how I know this? Because they’re scurrying around in secret tunnels to avoid “we the people.” Right now, as we speak, they’re scurrying around like the little rats that they are to try to avoid you. Now, why would they be doing that? Because they know they’re corrupt, they know they’re criminals, but worst of all, they know that we know. And unfortunately for them, they’re not winning right now. They may be cheating, but they’re not winning.

They thought they could steal this election and get away with it. I anticipate there will be more than a million Trump voters in Washington, D.C. [tomorrow]. They [the Democratic Party] thought they could fake a pandemic and keep you locked in your home but I see thousands of beautiful, smiling faces without a mask [and] not in fear. And the theme is, “Four more years for Donald Trump!” And I think all of us [here] can get behind that.

Notable in the above (largely yelled) monologue was Shroyer’s claim to know then-President Trump’s thinking, awkwardly hidden behind an afterthought “I believe”—one the video of the event seems to indicate that Shroyer actually had more rather than less familiarity with Trump’s thinking than he wanted to let on, with his “I believe” intended to distance himself from anyone thinking he had had contact with the sitting president. {Note: Another speaker at the event—one not nearly as well-connected as Shroyer—had no such compunctions. Blogger Rogan O’Handley told the crowd that he’d just come from a meeting at the White House. We don’t yet know if Shroyer attended the meeting also.}

Shroyer’s boss’s contact with Trump on both January 3 and January 6 makes it entirely plausible that Jones’s top lieutenant was aware of the president’s plans for January 6— all the more so if he was in Team Trump’s operations center at the Willard Hotel on Insurrection Day, a possibility that Proof continues to investigate via photo analyses.

{Note: As Proof has reported, Jones and InfoWars—Shroyer’s employer—were at the Willard Hotel on January 5 to interview former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.}

Noteworthy too is Shroyer’s reference to the “secret tunnels” below the Capitol, as it was these very tunnels that were the target of a violent seditious conspiracy then being plotted by 30 to 40 Oath Keepers, according to federal law enforcement. The Oath Keepers were at the Willard on January 5 and January 6 guarding Jones’s Stop the Steal co-organizer, Roger Stone, so there may well be a reason—an extremely troubling one, at that—for a Stop the Steal lieutenant like Shroyer to be thinking about the tunnels below the Capitol and, moreover, comparing Democratic politicians to “rats” needing to be fumigated from those tunnels. As the Wall Street Journal has reported, the plot six of Stone’s bodyguards participated in would have involved “gassing” members of Congress in the tunnels beneath the Capitol; if successful, the Oath Keeepers would have executed just the sort of fumigation Shroyer seemed to hint at the night before— while noting that Democratic politicians should “fear” the mob he was speaking to.

Indeed, shortly after Shroyer he spoke the block-quoted words above at Freedom Plaza, he continued his speech by mentioning Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, which mention of the Speaker immediately led the crowd to begin a “Lock her up!” chant.

In response, Shroyer applauded the crowd, moving away from his microphone so that the chant could build. He then returned to the microphone and said, “You know what? I think that [imprisoning Pelosi] would be a good start.” Moments later he shouts, “We’re fightin’ mad!” and introduces his boss Alex Jones, who just hours later would find himself in a private conversation with the sitting President of the United States.

{Note: As indicated above, even if Shroyer was not inside Giuliani’s Willard suite on January 6—but rather was simply in the Willard, with Jones, interviewing Flynn, a few steps away—investigation will continue as to who went to the White House for a secret meeting on January 5 alongside Rogan O’Handley, who told the Rally for Revival crowd that he couldn’t say who he’d met with there. Shroyer’s reference to knowing the president’s thinking could as easily have come from his own attendance at a January 5 pre-rally White House meeting as Alex Jones’s January 3 contact with the White House, during which Jones says he was asked to lead Trump’s march on the Capitol. Proof is also continuing to track Stop the Steal organizer Roger Stone’s movements inside the Willard on January 6, and will have a new report on this issue shortly.}

Update

{Note: The update below was added to the above article on Saturday, June 12, 2021, less than 24 hours after the initial publication of the article.}

A “crowdsourced” investigation on social media involving more than three hundred citizen journalists has now confirmed two things about Shroyer and the insurrection:

(1) Shroyer was indeed at the Willard InterContinental Hotel in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021.

(2) Shroyer is not the man in the Willard “war room” photo above.

A third item was also discovered during the course of this “OSINT” investigation:

(3) The man in the red jacket in the Willard war room photographs above is Russell (“Russ”) Ramsland, Jr., a man who is discussed in much more depth at Proof here.

Video of Shroyer immediately prior to his January 5 speech at the Rally for Revival shows him wearing a white-collared shirt rather than a white tee shirt, and he appears to be wearing the same clothes the following day. An analysis of unchanging facial features often used by law enforcement to make identify suspects from photographs—particularly, a suspect’s ears—confirm that the man in the “war room” photo is not Owen Shroyer, as the left ear of the former man shows features of what is commonly called “cauliflower ear”, while Shroyer’s ears and earlobes do not have this feature.

This said, as both Shroyer and Jones were at the Willard Hotel in the 24 hours before the insurrection and on Insurrection Day, and because Jones repeatedly had contact with “the White House” (by his own admission) in the run-up to the insurrection, and because Giuliani was running Trump’s “communications” center on January 5 and January 6, it remains possible that either Jones or Shroyer or both were in the Trump war room at the Willard but that investigators just don’t have photographic evidence of it yet. See the photographs below for the results of the investigation into Shroyer:

{Note: In the first photo above, John Eastman is standing in the doorway, but is not labeled.}

Five people in the photographs above—two women and three men, including the “man in the white shirt,” who has since (via crowdsourcing) been determined to be wearing a “Hotel Guest” lanyard from Trump International Hotel (see below for other examples of such lanyards being issued on January 5 and January 6)—have yet to be identified.

While Trump’s Ellipse rally was not illegal, and GOP legislators’ politically motivated objections to the certification of Biden’s landslide 2020 presidential election victory were not illegal, the march on the Capitol as conceived—as it required a permit-busting number of protestors to trespass en masse on federal land (a serious federal crime) for the express purpose, much discussed by the march’s organizers, of instilling fear in Congress so it wouldn’t do its job on January 6—was illegal.

Contact between Trump’s Willard Hotel “war room” and the insurrectionists behind the January 6 march to the Capitol (or “march on the Capitol”, as Trump’s son Eric Trump described it in his brief speech to the mob that day) is therefore significant because if Trump and/or his agents helped orchestrate tens of thousands of federal crimes, including both trespassing crimes and illegal attempts to interfere in the duties of federal officials, all of those involved in such an orchestration can in theory be charged with conspiracy under 18 U.S.C. § 371. Under this federal statute,

If persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States…and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

Many Americans wrongly believe that members of Team Trump would have to have explicitly intended violence at the Capitol for illegality to have occurred in the planning of the march on the Capitol, or else that members of Team Trump would have to have incited a mob to violence against persons in order to be held responsible for an incitement charge. Both presumptions are legally incorrect. While 18 U.S. Code § 373 is indeed entitled Solicitation to Commit a Crime of Violence, what most Americans do not realize is that “violence” is here defined differently than it is commonly defined either in the law or even by laypeople, as 18 U.S. Code § 373 covers damage to property as well (an act only very rarely denoted as violence in our state criminal justice systems):

Whoever, with intent that another person engage in conduct constituting a felony that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against property…in violation of the laws of the United States, and under circumstances strongly corroborative of that intent, solicits, commands, induces, or otherwise endeavors to persuade such other person to engage in such conduct, shall be imprisoned not more than one-half the maximum term of imprisonment or fined not more than one-half of the maximum fine prescribed for the punishment of the crime solicited, or both.

As conceived, the march on the Capitol could only have achieved the ends its creators expressly established for it if (a) protesters destroyed federal barricades, and (b) some number of protesters gained access to a secure federal building, which latter ambition could not be effectuated without physical force against property. But note the statute above is even broader than this, as it authorizes a prosecution for incitement if a person “induces” another to threaten…physical force against property” (emphasis supplied).

As Ali Alexander and others—including, notably, Owen Shroyer—made clear in their public statements both before and after Trump’s Ellipse speech, the intent of the Stop the Steal team was to put legislators in “fear” for their own physical safety and for the security of the federal building they were conducting official business in. So claims by conservative commentators or individuals on social media that if Trump and/or his agents did not know the armed mob they sent to the Capitol would get violent they cannot be held legally responsible for their actions should be ignored—not only because it is implausible that these experienced political actors did not appreciate the likely ends of their actions but because violence against law enforcement officers at the Capitol, while sufficient for serious federal charges, is not a necessary precondition for criminality in the planning of the events of January 6.