January 5 "War Council" Attendee Corey Lewandowski Had a Meeting With Donald Trump on January 5th, and It May Well Have Been at Trump International Hotel

Plus, a new attendee at the war council is confirmed by the Associated Press, and an already confirmed attendee baldly lies to the Associated Press about his attendance.

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Introduction

One hallmark of metajournalism is finding a piece of critically relevant information in an article written about a different subject than the one you’re researching. This has now happened twice in the last day at Proof, leading to the sort of “breaking news” one finds in curatorial journalism: news that’s “new” not because of its content but because of the purpose to which it can now be put as part of a broader curation of information.

In a late February 2021 article in The Atlantic that focused exclusively on former Trump 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski’s risible plot to squeeze pardon-seekers for millions of dollars in the waning days of the Trump administration, a startling fact is revealed that the author of the article, Peter Stone, couldn’t have appreciated at the time was significant to a considerably more important topic: one of the biggest federal criminal investigations ever conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Atlantic Article

What Peter Stone reports is that Lewandowski, in the midst of trying to grift desperate pardon-seeker Brad Birkenfeld out of $500,000—I say “grift” because Lewandowski was promising Birkenfeld nothing whatsoever in return, despite increasing his price to $200,000 beyond what the “whistleblower and convicted ex-banker” had previously been told by Lewandowski’s “colleague”, lobbyist Jason Osborne, was the cost to get to people in Trump’s inner circle to finesse a pardon—Lewandowski blithely revealed a stunningly significant piece of information: that he would be meeting with the President of the United States himself, Donald Trump, for an undisclosed period of time beginning at 11:30AM on January 5, 2021. One of the many indicia of reliability for this statement is that Lewandowski couldn’t have known at the time that it would become controversial.

January 5, 2021, is, of course, the very day that Corey Lewandowski attended a twenty-person meeting in Trump’s “private residence” at Trump International Hotel that has since been revealed as a pre-insurrection strategy session or (as it has been called here at Proof) “war council.” A lingering mystery has been whether Trump himself attended the meeting either live or by speakerphone or video conference from the White House.

This profoundly disturbing mystery is now deepened not only because Lewandowski told Birkenfeld that he would be meeting with Trump on January 5, but because two other critical January 5 revelations emerged in Stone’s Atlantic article:

  1. Lewandowski refused to speak about his January 5 meeting with Trump with The Atlantic after the insurrection, even though he was already speaking freely with the magazine on other subjects and had had no problem mentioning the meeting to Birkenfeld pre-insurrection. According to Stone, Lewandowski said to him with regard to his January 5 meeting with the former president “I can’t talk about that” and thereafter shut down further conversation about when, how, where, and why he met with the President of the United States less than 24 hours before an armed insurrection against the U.S. government. We don’t know who, if anyone, told Corey Lewandowski not to discuss the subject, or what their (or Lewandowski’s) reasoning might have been in making that decision. To be clear, Lewandowski repeatedly assured Stone that he had done nothing untoward with either his former boss, Trump, or the White House—with respect to Birkenfeld—so why on Earth would Lewandowski be unable to discuss a January 5 meeting with Trump unless the subject of that meeting involved much more than just pardons?

  2. Lewandowski refused to even hint at the location of any meeting he had with Trump on January 5, 2021—but interestingly, seemed to imply it wasn’t at the White House. By refusing to discuss his January 5 meeting with Trump with Stone, despite being willing to discuss every other proposed topic with him—including a news story that could have eventually produced a federal criminal investigation into his conduct as to both the bribery of a government official and his dubiously ethical role as a sub rosa Washington lobbyist—Lewandowski made clear he had no intention of aiding Stone’s effort to find out where Lewandowski might have met with his old boss (who had just appointed him to the Defense Policy Board) on January 5. When Stone reveals that Lewandowski advised him (Stone) to “request White House visiting records [to see if Lewandowski was at the White House on January 5]”, it functions, perhaps contrary to the designs of Mr. Lewandowski’s sluggishly workmanlike intelligence, more as a confession that if The Atlantic ever accessed those records, which Lewandowski likely knew (and the magazine formally confirms) it cannot, either (a) Lewandowski’s name wouldn’t appear therein because he did not “meet” Trump at the White House, or (b) Lewandowski’s name wouldn’t be there because he went to the White House on January 5 but made sure that his name wasn’t logged while he was there. Of the two possibilities, the former seems far more likely, as otherwise, by directing Stone to the White House visitor logs, Lewandowski would (if his name should’ve been on them but wasn’t) be risking hastening the unfortunate disclosure that the White House doctored its logs to hide Lewandowski’s—in context, presumptively sketchy—meeting with the former U.S. president. If, however, Lewandowski was directing Stone to the Trump White House’s records because knew his name wouldn’t appear in its January 5 logs, as he never went to the White House on that date, his challenge to The Atlantic to review such records would be a conventional and ploddingly lame misdirection from the infamous Washington hothead. {Note: And of course if Lewandowski did indeed go to the White House on January 5, it doesn’t in fact clear Trump of direct involvement in that day’s war council, as discussed below.}

In view of all this, we must remember that we know Corey Lewandowski was inside Trump’s private D.C. residence in the latter half of January 5, according to Charles W. Herbster and others—so either Lewandowski (1) went to see Trump at 11:30AM in the White House, Trump’s public D.C. residence, and then almost immediately retired to Trump’s private D.C. residence, which almost certainly has a video hook-up with the president’s public residence, a bizarrely circuitous daily schedule that would, even if accurate, suggest that Trump likely knew Lewandowski was going to his (Trump’s) private residence after the White House, or (2) Lewandowski never went to the White House to speak to Trump on January 5, either at 11:30AM or at any other time, as in fact Lewandowski knew Trump would be appearing via video link at the “fundraiser” that Senator Tommy Tuberville now confesses he attended at Trump International on that date, after Tuberville lied repeatedly to media about his attendance at the event.

Of these two possibilities, the second is more likely.

As someone who previously was a criminal investigator in the federal criminal justice system in D.C., I’ll say this: when you combine possibility “(b)”, above, with possibility “(2)”, above—meaning, when we take the far more likely scenario on each of the two key investigative questions above—and add it to the fact that we know Lewandowski was at Trump’s private residence on January 5, but have no reason to believe he was at the White House or that he believes he can be placed at the White House on January 5, and when we consider also that nearly everyone who attended the January 5 pre-insurrection strategy session at Trump’s private residence in D.C. has lied about it in some way, the likelihood that Trump participated in the January 5 meeting at Trump International in-person, via speakerphone, or via video conference jumps significantly.

{Note: Keep in mind that the mystery of the January 5 meeting also includes perhaps the most bizarre “typo” in American political history: top Trump donor and Trump administration official Charles Herbster writing on Facebook that he was “stand[ing] in the White House”, then quickly editing his post to say that he was in fact standing in Trump International Hotel. One of the very few obvious explanations for an error of this sort would be a video conference in which some participants were in the White House and some in Trump International Hotel, as Proof has outlined. It is otherwise inexplicable that a Trump administration official would write “Right now, I stand in the White House” and thereafter have to retract the claim, as he’d erroneously thought himself to be at the most august and historic address in the United States.}

Evidence That Trump Was at Trump International Hotel on January 5, Either In-Person or Remotely (Part I)

Could a criminal investigator conclusively confirm Trump’s presence at the January 5 meeting on the evidence above? No. But these facts would—without question—offer a credible working theory to any federal investigator. There are many reasons for this.

Remember that not only did Tuberville lie about his presence at Trump International on January 5, despite knowing that he was likely under federal criminal investigation at the time—raising the question of who, besides himself, he would consider it worth covering for by telling such an easily uncovered lie—but Michael Flynn has claimed he wasn’t at Trump International that day even though pictures place him there. Also, meeting attendee Charles Herbster tried to hide his own Facebook post revealing the meeting and then, when he realized it was too late to do so, opted to instead lie to media about where he went after the meeting (he told the Omaha World-Herald that he went to Nebraska the next day, after being in the VIP area at Trump’s Ellipse speech, but actually flew to Florida with the Trump family).

Note too that Mr. Herbster had by this time already attempted to hide Rudy Giuliani’s presence at the meeting by editing his name out of his Facebook post (which edit was subsequently caught); that longtime Lewandowski associate David Bossie bizarrely accused Herbster of senility in placing him (Bossie) at the meeting, though in the event Bossie could not provide the Alabama Political Reporter with any alibi for that period of time, leaving open the possibility that either Bossie was at the meeting or, like his associate Lewandowski, feels he has some sort of semantic loophole that protects him (e.g., having attended the meeting from an offsite location via a video conference); even after Tuberville confessed he was at the meeting, he repeatedly told provable lies about his conduct there, the duration of time he spent there, and what was discussed there; Daniel Beck has refused to speak about the meeting ever since he revealed it on social media on January 5 (having done so when he couldn’t have known how controversial it would become); and all of those who have spoken about the meeting have left out key persons who attended it in their accounts, only to have those names later revealed.

In view of all the foregoing, truth be told it doesn’t take a former criminal investigator to know that when so many people are lying about an event that took place at a sitting president’s private residence less than 24 hours before an armed insurrection incited by that president—and when both Congress and media inexplicably display no interest in investigating the meeting at all—something is gravely wrong.

But it’s worse than all this, as Proof can now report additional lies about the January 5 meeting that have been confirmed by none other than the Associated Press—the gold standard for reporting in the United States.

The “New” Associated Press Reporting

The reason that no one, including me, realized that the Associated Press had done any reporting on the January 5 meeting at Trump International Hotel is the very reason I offer at the top of this article: because that reporting was in a sense accidental. It wasn’t squarely focused on the details of the January 6 insurrection, but was rather what in journalism we’d call a “trend” piece. So it was easy for the report to be quickly buried.

{Note: The next entry in the ongoing “university lecture series” at Proof is coming shortly and deals, in part, with how journalists determine “newsworthiness.” In doing so, it addresses the subject of “trend” pieces in some detail.}

In short, the Associated Press has caught two more people lying about the January 5 meeting—a meeting the AP has not yet formally recognized as significant, but found itself investigating, anyway.

So: in this hard-to-find Associated Press article from February 26—which can be read in full at Haaretz, Israel’s equivalent of the New York Times, but can also be confirmed as existing (but not being fully readable) at other locations, like here at the Des Moines Register, and is then fully readable at MarketWatch and other outlets—the AP reveals a number of stunning facts about the meeting that have never been reported elsewhere.

{Note: The report is hard to find because it doesn’t come up via the AP site in a simple search using language from the report; was partially filed as a video report; was edited on March 4; and was carried as a squib by some outlets and a full report by others. What is obvious, in other words, is that the AP didn’t consider this a major report, and that it takes curatorial journalists researching a broad range of other topics to realize just how much reporting is lost in this way.}

Here are the revelations about the January 5 war council that we get from the AP:

  1. Top Trump adviser Peter Navarro now joins the list of those who’ve lied about their presence at the meeting. Per the AP, “Navarro denied attending [the meeting].” Unfortunately for Navarro, his attendance is confirmed not only by Herbster—who Navarro may have wrongly believed, as apparently did Bossie and Tuberville, could be framed as an unreliable source and (because he is a Trump donor planning to run for governor of Nebraska) could be relied upon to keep his mouth shut now—but by a second party the AP cites (see below). Navarro’s lie is critical because we know the radical views the eccentric Trump adviser held on January 5 on the subject of Trump declaring martial law and artificially extending his term. On January 3, just 48 hours before the war-council meeting he attended, Navarro bizarrely insisted on Fox News that Trump had authority to unilaterally postpone Biden’s term in office, implying that he had also advised the president as much. This terrifying insurrectionist rhetoric got lost in the chaos following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, so Navarro has never faced recriminations for openly advocating an act of sedition on national television. Nevertheless, his harrowing statement to Fox News underscores his state of mind on January 5, as he was sitting in Trump’s private residence strategizing—in a secret meeting with Trump allies—about, per a report by the Omaha World-Herald, “how to pressure more members of Congress to object to the Electoral College results that made Joe Biden the winner.”

  2. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is now attempting to distance himself from the meeting as well. Many people—all of them, notably, Trump supporters—place Giuliani at the January 5 meeting, as has been covered by Proof over the last 60 days. But asked by the AP whether he had been present at the meeting in response to yet another eyewitness saying he was (see below), Giuliani gave this improbable answer, in the AP’s paraphrase: “[I] would need to check [my] diary.” The odds that a January 5 meeting at Trump’s private residence less than a day before Trump and Giuliani incited an armed insurrection against the United States would weigh so little on Giuliani’s mind that only his personal diary could jog his memory are, to be clear, zero—and any federal criminal investigator will take that position. Giuliani’s reply to the AP is, indeed, just the sort of answer one gives when one does not want to answer a question, as of course Giuliani did not subsequently check his “diary” and get back to the AP with regard to its query, as he would’ve done if he’d had any interest in discussing the topic with them.

  3. The Associated Press confirms that the January 5 meeting occurred, and that Donald Trump Jr. was there—reporting this fact in a way that implies the AP spoke to Don Jr. directly. This is key for too many reasons to count, but most notably these five: (1) it’s the first time a Trump family member has gone on record about the January 5 meeting in any capacity; (2) if Don Jr. was indeed, as now the AP and many eyewitnesses say, at the meeting, it indirectly confirms that, as several eyewitnesses also say, his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle was with him, which places her call with convicted felon and Stop the Steal co-organizer Ali Alexander as having occurred during the war council; (3) it is a signal from the Trump family to its allies that attempts to lie about attendance at the meeting will fail, suggesting a fallback position—the one now taken by Tuberville, whose presence at the meeting the AP confirmed alongside Trump Jr.’s—of simply lying about the content of the meeting; (4) both Donald Trump Jr. and Giuliani being at the meeting means that at least three people at that meeting would have felt they had a professional duty to alert Trump to what occurred there (Trump Jr. and Eric Trump as the appointed stewards of Trump’s company, and Giuliani as Trump’s legal counsel); and (5) it further suggests that the Instagram photos taken by a Trump voter at Trump International Hotel on January 5 (see below) were indeed a good indication of who attended the TIH meeting, as the photos showed not only Flynn and Tuberville and Giuliani associate Phil Waldron but Donald Trump Jr. in the lobby of the hotel.

  4. Most importantly, the Associated Press has confirmed the presence at the meeting of a GOP official first reported to have likely attended the meeting by Proof on January 28—four weeks before the AP’s confirmation. Proof can now confirm, via the AP, that Daniel Beck’s father, Idaho GOP official Doyle Beck, attended the January 5 war council. That Doyle Beck was pictured on Instagram with Trump Jr. further underscores the evidentiary utility of these Instagram photographs (see below), meaning that the likelihood that Layne Bangerter and Waldron also attended the meeting has just increased exponentially, as discussed more here. In the event you wonder why it matters if a GOP official from Idaho was in Trump’s private residence less than 24 hours before an armed insurrection against the United States, put aside the fact that, as Proof has reported, the Becks own a Brazil-colocated armored-car company called Combat Armor Defense that makes the assets oppressive regimes use to institute martial law, and focus instead on the AP’s summary of Doyle Beck’s words and actions pre-insurrection: (1) he posted the words “Stop the Steal” on Facebook, (2) he mysteriously decided to “stay[ ] far from the Capitol building” after Trump’s speech at the Ellipse, on the basis of what if any foreknowledge of possible dangers at the U.S. Capitol is unclear, and most importantly, (3) he sits “on the board of a libertarian policy group called the Idaho Freedom Foundation” alongside Kootenai County (ID) Republican Central Committee Chairman Brent Regan, who posted on Facebook in December 2020 “WE ARE AT WAR!” in reply to knowingly false statements about the supposed Democratic “theft” of the 2020 election by Trump’s legal adviser Sidney Powell, who present evidence suggests may have been at the TIH meeting on January 5 also. Doyle Beck associate Regan would thereafter post on Facebook in mid-February, per the AP (emphasis in original), “People who DON’T own a gun should register and pay a fee. Per the Idaho Constitution Article 14 Section 1, all able bodied males between the ages of 18 and 45 are part of the militia and should arm themselves ... That is the LAW.”

But it’s not merely that the January 5 meeting at Trump’s private residence in D.C. has been ruthlessly lied about by its attendees; it’s not merely that it was attended by far-right radicals who appear to support insurrection; it’s not merely that some of those who attended had an evident duty to—and an interest in—making sure that Trump was informed of what was discussed among the twenty people gathered in his home. It’s that all the evidence suggests the then-President of the United States attended the meeting in some capacity.

Evidence That Trump Was at Trump International Hotel on January 5, Either In-Person or Remotely (Part II)

A fact not yet mentioned about the newly discovered Lewandowski reporting changes everything about the revelation he met with Trump on January 5 and won’t discuss it.

This fact has to do with time of day—specifically, the time of day that Lewandowski says he was scheduled to meet with Trump on January 5, and the time of day that Charles Herbster was in Trump International with Trump’s top advisers and several Trump family members.

Lewandowski told Birkenfeld that his January 5 meeting with Donald Trump was scheduled for 11:30AM, but Herbster only revealed his own presence at TIH during the 8PM hour that day. Taken alone, these two facts might lead one to believe that there was no connection between an alleged Lewandowski-Trump meeting around midday (at a still-undisclosed location) and a meeting that was ongoing almost nine hours later at Trump’s D.C. hotel.

However, it appears that some or perhaps even all of the Instagram photos posted of the January 5 war council attendees were—based on the apparent natural lighting seen in the photos—taken in the daytime.

{Note: Because the user in question has since deleted her Instagram account, there is no way to go back and check the date-stamps on these photos. All of these photos have been published at Proof and are now archived here.}

While Daniel Beck did report, in one Facebook post, that he “spent the evening” in a meeting in Trump’s private residence—for reference, the sun set at 4:26PM on January 5, 2021—in a roughly contemporaneous video he said something very different, stating (emphasis added):

Today I’ve spent the day here at the Trump Hotel. We got to hang out with Rudy Giuliani, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Don Jr., Michael Lindell…and just talk about the status of things. Several senators sat with us. There was about fifteen of us in a room. It was a very intimate setting. And it was really cool because we got to hear first-hand how things are going [with the “Stop the Steal” effort]…

But there’s more.

The previously referenced run of Instagram photos that includes pictures of Trump Jr., Michael Flynn, Tommy Tuberville, and Giuliani associate Phil Waldron—all suspected or confirmed meeting attendees—includes all four of the photos below (look carefully):

Is it possible that the woman who appears in the first two of these photos put on her coat, went outside in the daytime, appeared in the first photo, then was out and about until nightfall, then took the second photo, then posted all of the photos at once? Yes.

It’s equally clear that the more likely—if as yet unconfirmed—scenario is that all of these photos were taken during the daytime, during roughly the same period of time on January 5 (presumably as this woman was on her way from the hotel lobby to attend some of the many outdoor events that were going to happen in the cold of the evening of January 5) and that all of these “war council” attendees were therefore at the hotel in the daytime.

An investigator would also note that in every one of the pictures posted by this defunct Instagram account from inside Trump International Hotel, the “civilian” photo-takers are in winter coats, while the members of Trump’s inner circle are not in coats at all. This suggests either the women were headed out for the day when they ran into war-council attendees either getting breakfast or lunch or otherwise lounging at the hotel or, far less likely, the women were returning to the hotel in the evening (or just about to go out in the evening) and found all these war-council attendees hanging out in the hotel lobby—when the attendees locate themselves inside Trump’s private residence at that time. So while the issue of when this run of Instagram photos was taken remains unresolved, on balance it is presently more likely that they were taken in the daytime.

In other words, during the same period of time that Corey Lewandowski was meeting with Trump at a location he refuses to disclose but appears not to be the White House.

Conclusion

The above evidence doesn’t mean that Trump was indisputably physically at his hotel during the day on January 5, though this remains a possibility. But it does mean that it remains possible—even likely—that Corey Lewandowski and some other war-council attendees (a) were in Trump’s hotel during the day on January 5, (b) met with Trump in some capacity during that period, whether in-person or via video conference, and thus (c) were still in touch with Trump, or else had marching orders from him, at the time later on that they were speaking to a convicted felon and self-declared insurrectionist leader who is currently hiding from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Ali Alexander.

If Donald Trump participated in the January 5 war council live or remotely—given that we know all the war-council attendees fled the Capitol area on January 6—it confirms that his inner circle was not only in direct contact with insurrectionists (as Alexander and his co-conspirator Alex Jones have repeatedly said) just prior to the insurrection, but that Trump well knew that sufficient chaos was coming to Capitol Hill on January 6 that he and his entire political team had to stay far away. This would be enough to establish his Ellipse speech as an act of criminal incitement, as well as providing the FBI with a list of potential interviewees who could reveal what was discussed at TIH on January 5. If the content of that meeting was, as its attendees are now acting like it was, so seditious that it must be mechanically lied about by all meeting attendees, the January 5 meeting also becomes the core of a seditious conspiracy case against Trump.

Under these circumstances, if the FBI could flip even a single attendee of the January 5 war council, it could change both the history and the future of this country forever.

What’s needed now is for Congress and major media to start vigorously reporting on—and investigating—this meeting.


Article #82 at Proof.