January 5 Meeting at Trump International Hotel Could Hold the Key to the January 6 Insurrection

The night before the insurrection, a large group of Trump family and advisers held an urgent meeting with January 6 organizers at the president's private residence in DC.

{Note: This article has been updated with important new information at this link.}

Well after dark on January 5, 2021—just 15 hours before an insurrection against the United States government incited by the President of the United States—Nebraska Republican Charles W. Herbster, at the time the National Chairman of the Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee for the Trump administration, attended a private meeting of Trump family members, Trump administration officials, Trump campaign advisers, January 6 organizers, and at least one member of the United States Senate at Trump International Hotel in Washington.

In attendance at the large and only recently uncovered meeting, conducted “in the private residence of the President” at his hotel, were, according to Herbster’s account, the following individuals (Note: Donald Trump’s presence at the meeting, either in person or via speakerphone, as yet remains unclear, so his name is temporarily absent from this listing):

  • Donald Trump Jr., eldest son of the president

  • Eric Trump, second-eldest son of the president

  • Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to the president

  • Peter Navarro, Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and National Defense Production Act Policy Coordinator

  • Corey Lewandowski, 2016 Trump campaign manager

  • David Bossie, 2016 Trump deputy campaign manager

  • Adam Piper, executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association

  • Tommy Tuberville, United States senator from the State of Alabama

According to research by political strategist and regular CNN, MSNBC, The Hill, CBS, and Fox News contributor Cheri Jacobus, Txtwire CEO Daniel Beck claims he was at the January 5 meeting also, and that additional attendees at the gathering included the following three people:

  • Rudy Giuliani, personal attorney to the President of the United States

  • Kimberly Guilfoyle, girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.

  • Michael Lindell, Trump donor and MyPillow CEO

In a Facebook post, Beck claims that there were “fifteen of us [who] spent the evening [January 5]” at Trump International Hotel in DC, a statement that tracks with the nine attendees listed by Herbster, the additional three referenced by Beck himself, and a photograph Beck took on January 5 in which he appears outside the hotel with an unidentified woman and three unidentified men, two wearing red “Make America Great Again” caps:

Guilfoyle’s presence at the meeting is critical given that Stop the Steal coordinator Ali Alexander claims he received a call from Guilfoyle during the evening of January 5—when she would have been with Trump’s family and advisers at Trump International. As for Tuberville, he now claims, contrary to the statements of Herbster and Beck, that he was never at the Trump International Hotel on January 5.

An Instagram photograph from January 5, taken at Trump International Hotel in DC, appears to show Senator Tuberville on-site, as described by both Beck and Herbster:

In Charles Herbster’s Facebook post detailing the meeting—a post that looks forward with anger and trepidation to the upcoming January 6 certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory, and has since been hidden and reposted, along with all photos of the Trump family on Herbster’s Facebook account posted from December 2020 through January 2021—the Nebraska Republican writes of the “battles and blood” that in the past have been required to “protect our way of life”, as well as his own decision “[not to] choose the easy path” but instead “fight” the “widespread voter fraud that happened on November 3.” Herbster is, as of January 26, not yet speaking to media about January 5, nor about Senator Tuberville’s contrary account of the events of that evening in DC.

Here is Charles Herbster’s full Facebook post about the January 5 meeting:

Herbster’s Facebook feed, prior to its scrubbing, confirmed his high-level access to the Trump family, as it contained many pictures taken at Mar-a-Lago in the 30 days prior to the January 6 insurrection. These pictures featured Herbster alongside Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence, Eric Trump and his wife Lara Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle, and longtime Trump friend and adviser Jeanine Pirro, whose ex-husband Albert Pirro Trump pardoned as the last official act of his presidency.

{Photo key: (1) New Year’s Eve, taken when Herbster was “a special guest of Fox News celebrity Judge Jeanine Pirro and Eric and Lara Trump” at Mar-a-Lago; (2) January 2, taken during “a wonderful weekend in Palm Beach, Florida at the Mar-a-lago club with the entire Donald J. Trump family”; (3) December 20, taken “at the White House Christmas Party”; and (4) and (5), December 9, taken at an as-yet undetermined location and event.}

That Herbster would have access to Trump’s inner circle is clear. But less clear is why the Trumps had invited, to a private residence outside the White House—and on the eve of an insurrection—(1) Michael Flynn, a man who that very day had organized a D.C. rally to protest the 2020 election, and would the next day conjoin his Jericho March with the Stop the Steal/March to Save America that Trump was to speak at; (2) Peter Navarro, a man who would later say on live television that he believed Trump had the unilateral authority to postpone Biden’s inauguration; (3) Tommy Tuberville, the U.S. senator who in a matter of hours Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani would be calling by telephone to demand that he fraudulently contest ten states’ Biden electors (far more than the five Giuliani had publicly declared contestable); (4) Adam Piper, who in a matter of days would resign from the Republican Attorneys General Association when it was found that he had helped orchestrate robocalls advertising the Stop the Steal/March to Save America event; and (5) Trump’s former campaign manager and deputy campaign manager—Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, respectively—two men known for their bareknuckle politics and (in Lewandowski’s case) an alleged penchant for violence (see here, here, and here). Meanwhile, the presence of Trump’s personal attorney at the meeting all but ensures that Trump himself was aware of the event.

While of course there’s less question about why Don Jr. and Eric were at the January 5 meeting at their father’s Washington hotel, it’s useful to note that both men would speak alongside their father at the January 6 rally in D.C. that incited an insurrection, and that both (particularly the former) arguably uttered words during their speeches that helped incite that insurrection. Meanwhile, it remains unclear why Trump would have given his sons access to his private residence in Washington if he was not either planning to attend the meeting with them, planning to attend it via speakerphone—a longtime practice of the president in dealing with sensitive meetings, and a practice for which he has become infamous—or expecting his sons to debrief him immediately. Giuliani would also have been expected by his client to offer an immediate debriefing, and Mike Lindell, another meeting participant, was known to have Oval Office access to the president at the time.

But the two men of most importance here, undoubtedly, are (1) the organizer of the Jericho March, and (2) the organizer of robocalls promoting the Stop the Steal/March to Save America—as their presence at a private Team Trump strategy meeting the night before an armed insurrection affirms that the president’s inner circle was in fact coordinating with the very men who were at that moment busy creating an armed mob for Trump to command on January 6. Just so, if Guilfoyle did indeed call Ali Alexander from the meeting, it means that one of the chief Stop the Steal organizers was involved in at least one high-level meeting with Trump family members, Trump administration officials, Trump campaign advisers, and a key member of the United States Senate the night before the January 6 insurrection.

Alexander had been caught on camera earlier in the evening of January 5 leading a crowd in a chant of “Victory or death!” Shortly thereafter, he was on the phone with the most powerful figures in Trump’s inner circle.

Nor must we guess what these fifteen men and women discussed on the eve of the insurrection, as the Omaha World Herald has already reported on what Herbster and his compatriots were doing: “discuss[ing] how to pressure more members of Congress to object to the Electoral College results that made Joe Biden the winner.”

This seeming footnote in a mid-size newspaper may become one of the most startling revelations of the ongoing federal criminal investigation of the January 6 insurrection: it means that one of the organizers of the now-infamous Stop the Steal/March to Save America event met with Trump’s top advisers and family members—and possibly, if a speakerphone was employed, Trump himself—on the night before the insurrection to discuss how to “pressure more members of Congress to object to the Electoral College results that made Joe Biden the winner.” It also means that the organizer of the Jericho March, Flynn, which had been timed to coincide with the Stop the Steal/March to Save America, also met with this corps of Trump advisers to discuss how to “pressure more members of Congress.” And for reasons we still don’t know—but perhaps can guess at—the fifteen (minimum) participants at the meeting decided that they couldn’t meet in the White House. A call from the hotel to Alexander may offer an explanation for this.

Not only does this meeting appear to confirm that Trump’s team helped orchestrate the events of January 6, but that it participated in the calibration of those events to exert maximum “pressure” on members of Congress in the midst of them executing a grave constitutional duty. Moreover, it participated in that calibration in the presence of a member of the United States Senate, who was therefore—we can now conclude, from the reporting of the Omaha World Herald—working in private with the president’s team to advise Trump on how to generate that maximum pressure on his Senate peers.

It’s evident that the meeting participants did not anticipate that such “pressure” would come from political persuasionbut from the large, angry gatherings that Flynn and Piper had personally helped foment. Indeed, how could a “peaceful” gathering of Trump voters standing well off Capitol property possibly have exerted “pressure” on members of Congress to “object” to state-certified Biden electors inside the building?

The answer is likely to be clear enough to federal investigators: the events Flynn and Piper orchestrated, along with Alexander, could only exert extraordinary pressure on members of Congress if the participants in those events illegally entered Capitol grounds.

While we cannot know if these co-conspirators discussed the possibility of violence on January 6, that they contemplated the crime that most of the January 6 insurrectionists have now been charged with—Unlawfully Entering a Restricted Building—is all but certain, as is the fact that the purpose of such entries was to put improper pressure on government officials to reverse course on a government action.

In simpler terms, the purpose of the January 5 meeting at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. was arguably seditious conspiracy—as it appears to have been intended to promote and incite criminal acts by a mob whose purpose was to intimidate federal officials engaged in the certification of a democratically elected branch of government.

That Nebraska was America’s unlikeliest battleground state during the November 2020 election is evidenced by the fact that Donald Trump and Joe Biden actually split the state’s electoral votes on November 3 (Biden received one and Trump received four). That Nebraska was—and now is—a battleground in presidential politics makes the fact that Herbster is, according to the Omaha World Herald, a “potential Nebraska gubernatorial candidate” all the more significant. Not only did the state Herbster hopes to leading beginning in 2022 account for 1 of the 37 electoral votes that put Joe Biden over the top in 2020, but if Trump hopes to run again in 2024 he may require Herbster’s help to ensure that Republicans sweep Nebraska—rather than split it with the Democrats—in what Trump would have to know will be (at best) a tight election.

According to the Omaha World Herald, “Herbster attended the rally where Trump urged supporters to march to the Capitol [the Stop the Steal/March to Save America], but said he left the area to fly home before the riot.” This remains unconfirmed, but if true, it suggests yet another top Trump adviser taking actions central to the events of January 6 but then conveniently deciding—in advance of the march—that he wanted to be far away as it was happening. (Note: Proof catalogues other such Trump advisers here.)

While it would be easy to think of Herbster as a mere attendee at the January 6 Trump speech that incited an insurrection—if one who fled the scene immediately thereafter, for unknown reasons—further details about Herbster’s relationship with Trumpworld suggest otherwise.

On December 13, 2020, just three and a half weeks before the insurrection, Herbster attended a Moms for America event with the known insurrectionist Lindell, who he would later—according to Daniel Beck—meet with at Trump International Hotel on January 5, and who was last seen several days before the end of Trump’s term carrying paperwork into the Oval Office urging then-President Trump to declare martial law and refuse to vacate the White House on January 20.

Here is Herbster posing for a photograph with Lindell at the event, which Moms for America described as an “intimate” gathering for a “small group of guests”:

Indeed, besides that “small group of guests,” the only attendees at the event were the “members of the Moms for America National Team.” That team, led by Moms for America president and founder Kimberly Fletcher (pictured with Herbster, below) would days later become a sponsor of the coming January 6 Stop the Steal/March to Save America. It remains unclear whether Herbster helped shepherd this key sponsorship in mid-December.

But wait—there’s more.

It turns out that the “intimate” December 13 gathering in Washington included more than just Herbster, Fletcher, insurrectionist Mike Lindell, and South Dakota’s GOP governor, Kristi Noem (note: see image #6, above).

Also part of the “small group” that met in Washington was, according to an article in Breitbart, Rose Tennet, head of the Women for Trump group and a speaker at the January 5 Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America event that also featured Stop the Steal coordinators Alex Jones and Roger Stone. More importantly, the gathering featured Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), now known as one of the four chief organizers of the January 6 Stop the Steal/March to Save America event.

Also present was Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), who the Erie Times-News has called “the last person in the House of Representatives to object to the certification of the Electoral College vote in Pennsylvania or any other state [on January 6]”—noting that even after the insurrection Kelly thundered from the House floor, “I hate the idea of what we had to go through today, but if oaths don’t matter—and we’ve all taken them—and if the Constitution doesn’t matter, why do we even do it?” In his floor remarks on the certification of Biden’s victory, Kelly called the 2020 election “unconstitutional.”

But it gets still worse—as someone else very important spoke at the self-admittedly “intimate” December 13 Moms for America event that Charles Herbster attended: the aforementioned Ali Alexander, the Stop the Steal coordinator currently on the run from federal law enforcement.

That Herbster, Lindell, Biggs, Alexander, and Tennet were all present at the same pro-Trump event in the nation’s capital on December 13—and that three of these people would later participate in the January 5 meeting at the Trump International Hotel—raises the possibility that Herbster was in touch with Alexander at other points between December 13 and January 5. Federal officials will now need to question Herbster about whether he passed on to the president or his team any messages from or about Alexander, Alexander’s Stop the Steal/March to Save America co-organizer Andy Biggs, or Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America participant Tennet prior to or on January 5. These questions must be added, of course, to an even more foundational interrogation regarding what other topics the group of men and women at the January 5 meeting discussed, including what they discussed when Guilfoyle called Alexander.

Just so, given that Herbster was (per his Facebook page) in regular contact with the whole Trump family throughout the month of December 2020, federal investigators will want to know both the substance of his conversations with the Trumps during this period and also whether he passed messages to them from other insurrectionists besides Alexander—or vice versa—in the critical five weeks leading up to January 6.

{Photo key (below): (1) Herbster with Donald Trump; (2) Herbster with Corey Lewandowski; (3) Herbster with Donald Trump Jr.; (4) Herbster with Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle.}