Evidence Mounts of Team Trump Plot to Occupy the Capitol on January 6

It's become increasingly clear that Trump and his legal team directed an effort to occupy the U.S. Capitol long enough for Trump allies in six states to decertify Joe Biden's 2020 election victory.

{Note: This article benefited significantly from the assistance of two independent researchers who are Proof readers. They have asked to remain anonymous.}

Introduction

According to a January 2021 report by NBC News, in December 2020 a “digital flyer” made the rounds of Trumpist circles on Facebook and Instagram urging all Trump voters to descend on Washington on January 6 for “Operation Occupy the Capitol.”

On January 6, CNN would report that “A source close to the White House who is in touch with some of the rioters at the Capitol said it’s the goal of those involved [in the insurrection] to stay inside the Capitol through the night.”

We can’t know the veracity of an anonymous source within the White House—given that many there might have felt implicated by the events of January 6—so we cannot know whether the insurrectionists planned to “stay inside the Capitol” until “only” January 7 or, consistent with bizarre claims made by Trump lawyer Joe diGenova, that somehow the joint session of Congress scheduled for January 6 might extend out to January 8, but we can know the one thing that Donald Trump least wanted to say to the rioters in his recorded videos from January 6.

As reported by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker of the Washington Post in their book I Alone Can Fix It, Trump had to do multiple takes of his first video message to his supporters on January 6 for one simple reason: he kept “veering off the script his speechwriters had prepared”, which script prominently featured an admonition for the insurrectionists to “go home.” Just as Trump had refused to call out the National Guard to clear the U.S. Capitol, he appeared to inexplicably struggle with even the simplest exhortation to his followers that they should exit the Capitol and allow the joint session of Congress to continue.

As Proof has reported, by January 2, 2021, a consortium of entities in regular contact with one another—the Office of the President, the Stop the Steal “movement”, GOP state legislators in thrall to the then-president, and Trump’s legal team (headquartered during Insurrection Week at the Willard Hotel)—had determined that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) would not succeed in pushing for a ten-day commission to study the results of the 2020 presidential election. And Cruz had informed the White House, per the book Peril by Robert Costa and Bob Woodward, that he would not challenge a sufficient number of Joe Biden-won states—he was willing to contest two, while Trump’s legal team was at first satisfied with six but later demanded “ten” once Trumpists’ attempt to occupy the Capitol fizzled out—to delay the joint session of Congress until January 7 or even January 8, which Trump required if state legislators were going to meet in special session in six states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) to decertify Biden’s election as President of the United States through an unprecedented form of legislative fiat.

The fact that the January 6 insurrectionists were calling for Mike Pence to be hanged, spoke of snatching House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and burst into the House and Senate chambers caused many in media to believe the plan Trump supporters had on Insurrection Day was to take over the government by force. But a overwhelming weight of the evidence now suggests that this was never the plan for January 6, either at the grassroots level or within the Trump White House.

Rather, the plan was for the Trumpists on the ground at the Capitol to be sufficiently angry, sufficiently prepared for battle, and in sufficient numbers to do exactly as the digital flyer circulated by the insurrectionists in December 2020 had indicated: occupy the U.S. Capitol for a sufficient period to enable Trump’s legal and political teams to engage in whatever stratagems were necessary for Trump to retain the White House.

“Operation Occupy the Capitol”

It is important to understand that, as reported by Proof, Trump was in direct contact with insurrectionist leaders on January 2 by conference call, and during a 14-minute presentation to these leaders—and the nearly 300 state legislators he needed to back his play to decertify Biden’s November 2020 election victory—created significant new evidence that the operation to occupy the Capitol was coordinated by him and his legal team. Trump’s apparent role in the scheme included several components, most important among them that he take no action whatsoever, as the sitting President of the United States, to empty out the Capitol on January 6.

As Jonathan Karl of ABC News reports in his book Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show, not only did the then-president suddenly and mysteriously present as being incapable of recording a message to the rioters telling them to leave the Capitol rather than “occupy” it as they had planned; not only did he watch the riot on television with—according to at least six White House sources—evident glee; when House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) called the president in mid-attack to “ask him to tell the rioters to leave the Capitol”, with McCarthy exclaiming, “I just got evacuated from the Capitol! There were shots fired right off the House floor. You need to make this stop”, the response he received from Trump was, “They are just more upset than you because they believe it [the ‘Big Lie’] more than you, Kevin.” Trump would not commit to urging the insurrectionists to leave the Capitol. Per Karl’s book, “The former president liked what he saw [on television], boasted about the size of the crowd, and argued with aides who wanted him to tell his supporters to stop rioting.”

Up until now, many have presumed that the twice-impeached, one-term president was merely acting out of spite on January 6, not calculation. A growing body of evidence strongly indicates otherwise: that Trump believed he could retain the Oval Office—and his immunity from future criminal prosecution—if the January 6 joint session of Congress were postponed long enough for his allies in six state legislatures to perfect a legislative coup of the federal government and an override of the 2020 election.

Karl confirms and augments Leonnig and Rucker’s reporting, writing (per ABC News) that “In earlier versions [of his recorded January 6 message], Trump neglected to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol.”

More recently, the Washington Post reported that on January 6 Trump communications adviser Jason Miller wrote two tweets for Trump to send out and quickly submitted them to the then-president; Trump sent neither. Both included language demanding that the insurrectionists leave the Capitol (one ordered them to “leave the Capitol now!”, while the other more congenially told all Trump supporters to “head home”).

A telling component of these two tweets Trump refused to send is that both of them asserted that the violence and mayhem at the Capitol weren’t the work of Trump supporters at all—meaning that Trump should’ve had no issue telling his supporters to leave the Capitol, as what was happening there was not, in fact, an exhibition of either their will or Trump’s. Indeed, when Trump spoke to McCarthy in the midst of the attack on the Capitol, he got so mixed up by his own (apparently deliberate) mixed messaging that he at once advanced the claim that the attack on the Capitol had been planned and executed by non-Trumpist agitators and that those then attacking the Capitol were “more upset about the election than [the top Republican in Congress]” because “they like Trump more than [the top Republican in Congress] does.”

In a single call with one of the most powerful Republicans in the United States, on a historic day that would prove a major turning point in Trump’s political, personal, and professional life, he was so wrapped up in his own plotting that he simultaneously insisted it was the far left and his own far-right movement that was attacking the seat of the federal government. Either way—as we now know—the most important thing to the then-president was that he neither get involved in the events of the day by telling his supporters to go home or (in the event they were not his supporters) by calling out the Guard to disperse them. The key thing was that the attack on the Capitol continue.

As Proof has reported in the past, the evidence is legion—see here and here—that pre-January 6 Trump and his legal and political teams had devised the cover story that if the attack on the Capitol, intended to result in its occupation and the postponement of the joint session of Congress, failed, they would simply blame the left for the event.

Trump’s bizarre call with McCarthy, in which he told the House Minority Leader that the thousands and thousands of Trump supporters he had just personally directed to march on the Capitol were somehow, by the time they had gotten to where he’d told them to go, “not his people”, indicates that this plot was in motion even as the attack on (and attempted occupation of) the Capitol was unfolding.

According to a Washington Post report,

Several Republican members of Congress tried to get through to [President] Trump in hopes of persuading the president to tell his supporters to go home. White House staffers received calls from dozens of lawmakers desperate for Trump to make the crowd leave. Many tried to remind Trump aides that they still supported the president, and some even promised not to certify the election, but said they and their staffers were hiding in offices and under desks and had seen people shatter windows and scream for politicians to be killed. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina senator who was one of Trump’s closest friends in Congress, called Ivanka Trump repeatedly with suggestions for what the president should say. “You need to get these people out of here”, he told the president’s daughter. “This thing is going south. This is not good. You’re going to have to tell these people to stand down. Stand down.” The president didn’t take many of the calls and saw only a few aides that afternoon.

This text from former Trump communications director Alyssa Farah to her one-time boss, Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, is representative of the sort of plea Trump was ignoring as he sat “holed up” in his “private dining room” just “watching TV”:

At 2:38 PM, 27 minutes after insurrectionists had broken into the Capitol and a full 101 minutes after the Capitol grounds writ large had first been breached, Trump sent out a message that made no mention of his supporters leaving a building they had, by then, almost completely overrun. Yet his strangely detached “stay peaceful” message contained within it precisely the word he most wanted his supporters to hear: “stay.”

35 minutes later, with the Capitol fully taken over by insurrectionists and the death toll now mounting, Trump tweeted again, and again the word he most wanted heard was prominently featured, and addressed to “everyone at the U.S. Capitol”: “remain.”

Donald Trump has spent a lifetime calling himself a master communicator who fully understands the import and impact of his “best words.” When Ivanka—his closest confidant, and the person he would most want to succeed him in the Oval Office—tweeted two minutes after her father, after speaking to him repeatedly throughout the day, somehow she knew, too, that she could not urge the insurrectionists to leave the building altogether if her dad had not already done so. So she settled for “be peaceful.”

It was minutes later that Trump rejected both of Jason Miller’s tweets proposing that he ask his supporters to abandon their occupation of the Capitol.

Indications of An Premeditated Occupation Plot Mount

Per countless major media reports, on January 6 three national political leaders with very little in common—Pelosi, Pence, and sometime Trump critic and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—all agreed on one thing in particular: the joint session could not be postponed. Both Pelosi and McConnell told aides that their top priority was clearing the Capitol by the evening of January 6 so that the vote to certify Biden’s win could take place as planned.

Pence’s actions were even more dramatic. The Vice President refused to be driven to safety by the United States Secret Service—a course of action which would’ve meant leaving the Capitol grounds, and therefore being unable to control the timing of his return to a joint session he was legally obligated to preside over—because, according to a Newsweek report, Pence told Tim Giebels, the lead special agent in charge of his protective detail, “I trust you, Tim, but you’re not driving the car [you’re asking me to get in]. If I get in that vehicle, you guys are taking off. I’m not getting in the car.”

As Newsweek, working from Leonnig and Rucker’s book, reports, the man in charge of trying to get Pence away from the Capitol was Trump loyalist Anthony Ornato, who in a breach of decades of protocol was simultaneously a chief official with the Secret Service and a member of Trump’s political inner circle. According to Leonning and Rucker, “Ornato told [Pence national security adviser Keith] Kellogg that Pence’s security detail [managed by Ornato] was planning to move [Pence] to Joint Base Andrews.” This means that even as Trump was deeming the attack on the Capitol insufficiently serious to call out the National Guard or make a statement to rioters that they needed to leave the Capitol, Pence’s security detail, overseen by one of the president’s top political operatives, was telling him Pence (and Pence particularly) needed to be removed from the premises and taken to a secure location in Maryland.

As Trump and Ornato well knew, the easiest way to postpone the joint session was to remove from the Capitol the one man constitutionally required to be present at it. It appears Pence, who had been briefed by Trump’s legal team as to its plans on January 4, was aware of what Trump and Ornato were trying to do and resisted it even though he had been told by Giebels, a man he trusted, that his life and the lives of his family members were in danger.

Lest all this seem rather ornate, note that Proof long ago reported on overwhelming evidence—see the articles here and here—that Ornato and Trump had formulated a plan to assist the January 6 insurrection. The evidence of this has only mounted since Proof last covered this issue in May 2021.

As the Washington Post recently reported, “Keith Kellogg, Pence’s national security adviser, who spent the day at the White House and was in and out of the Oval Office talking to Trump, had related to the president [during the attack on January 6] that the vice president was safe in the Capitol basement with his wife and daughter. But Trump had no reaction. Trump instead stayed focused on the TV.” Had Trump aide Ornato’s plan been successfully executed—which Trump knew it had not been when Kellogg told him Pence was “in the Capitol basement” rather than in Maryland on Ornato’s orders—one wonders whether that news would have earned a reaction from the then-president.

As for Ornato’s nominal role as a Secret Service official, the Post reports that on the morning of January 6, “Down by the Ellipse, the park area near the White House where Trump was planning to speak at a ‘Save America’ rally at noon, the crowd assembled early. At 8:06 a.m., an internal Secret Service alert said that roughly 10,000 people were waiting to go through magnetometers and some were ‘wearing ballistic helmets, body armor and carrying radio equipment and military-grade backpacks.’” It is unthinkable that Trump would not have been given some sense of the security situation at his speech in the four hours before he began his hour-long incitement of a mob that he had to have known, from Ornato or one his agents, was in some quarters “wearing ballistic helmets, body armor and carrying radio equipment and military-grade backpacks.”

Indeed, that Trump spoke at all on January 6 is damning. Why? Because hours before he spoke, the Post reports, the security situation in and around the site of the sitting president’s speech had deteriorated so dramatically that, according to an emergency distress call from the U.S. Park Police around 9AM, “There’s a large crowd that’s following us. We’re going back into the [Washington] Monument with [an] individual that’s under arrest [by USPP]. They’re breaking through the bike fence. Units are backed into the monument. Everyone’s breaking through the bike racks.”

Under such circumstances, how could Ornato have permitted Trump to speak, unless (a) it was clear that all of the violence and threat to law enforcement was coming from Trump supporters (which itself would still be insufficient to negate the potential security threat), or (b) Trump had something that he felt only he could get the crowd to do, and therefore he needed to address them directly and at length and would insist on doing so no matter what the Secret Service said (though during threats to a POTUS Secret Service orders typically take precedence)?

By 9:45, at the Lincoln Memorial—again near enough to Trump’s planned location that Ornato and his team would have been expected to be informed of it in short order—Park Police officers radioed another emergency call: “We have individuals with shields and gas masks at the [Memorial].” It was the Proud Boys, we now know, taking (as the USPP communication indicated) “pictures with a flag that says ‘Fuck Antifa!’” The Proud Boys were one of two—at a minimum—pro-Trump paramilitaries planning to lead the breach of the Capitol on January 6. As the call from the Lincoln Memorial came it, another call came in from the Washington Monument of a man armed with a “pitchfork.” Meanwhile, DHS agents reported that “piles of backpacks, hundreds of them”, had appeared outside the site of Trump’s soon-to-start rally, left there by “rallygoers…rather than taking them through magnetometers and Secret Service checkpoints for Trump’s speech.” By the time Trump came out to speak with the implicit blessing of Ornato and his Secret Service team, federal agents had found firearms in “an unattended vehicle north of the Mall” as well as a “vehicle near L’Enfant Plaza”, and were investigating “reports of a man with a rifle…at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue.” The gun found by federal agents near L’Enfant Plaza was a “rifle” with a “scope.” None of it was deemed relevant, apparently, to a President of the United States speaking at a public event where attendees were studiously avoiding magnetometers while “wearing ballistic helmets [and] body armor and carrying radio equipment and military-grade backpacks.”

{Note: the Washington Post further reports that “At 12:33 PM [on January 6], Park Police reported that they detained a person with a rifle on 17th Street, near the World War II Memorial, not far from where Trump was speaking on the Ellipse.”}

Incredibly, though Ornato had run a full security review for Trump indicating to the president, by January 2 at the latest, that the Capitol would be unsafe on January 2, the Post reports that “Pence’s team did not imagine the scene would turn violent” on the day of the joint session in part because “none of the relevant agencies [a list that would include the Secret Service] had briefed the vice president or his team about what to expect [at the Capitol].”

When Trump was done speaking, the Post reports, “[he] did not join his adherents in marching. Despite having said he would go to the Capitol, there was no apparatus set by the Secret Service or White House staff to make his movement happen. Some aides checked to see whether there had been a change of plan, but there wasn’t one.”

Stop the Steal and Oath Keepers: Would-Be Occupiers

As Proof just reported, the man who worked with Trump’s legal team to formulate a plan for January 6 was Arizona state representative Mark Finchem, who was not only a Stop the Steal leader on Insurrection Day but a formally admitted (and self-admitted) Oath Keeper. And yet, what evidence do we have, besides a single “digital flyer”, that the very Stop the Steal leaders (and one Oath Keeper) who the then-president spoke to on January 2 alongside his legal team, political team, and allies in state governments around the country intended to become Capitol occupiers on January 6? Quite a lot.

As the digital flyer calling for “Operation Occupy the Capitol” was blazing its way across Facebook’s toxic Trumpverse, a portion of Stop the Steal’s leadership was in Georgia preparing for the January 5 Senate run-off vote. Ali Alexander and Alex Jones had spent an enormous amount of time in Georgia’s capital since the November 2020 presidential election. Indeed, just days after the election, on November 18, Jones told his followers that “everyone must go to the [Capitol] of Georgia now and you must surround the governor’s mansion now.” We see Jones and Alexander doing the first of these two things in this mid-November 2020 photograph:

Video (see below) of Stop the Steal’s occupation of Georgia’s Capitol building in mid-November helps establish the intentions of Jones and Alexander with respect to their nearly identical event in the nation’s Capitol just seven weeks later. At one point in the video here, Georgia state representative Vernon Jones, a Trump 2020 surrogate now running for Governor of Georgia with Trump’s endorsement, is seen addressing the assembled occupiers, led by Jones and Alexander, and telling them that “people work here [in the building]” so it’s necessary to be quiet and respectful. An unseen man interrupts Rep. Jones as he is speaking, shouting, “They work for us, Vernon!”

But it is Alexander’s on-camera response to this would-be long-term occupier that is most chilling. Alexander tells the man, and the crowd of perhaps one hundred or more Trumpists, “We want to keep doing this [gathering inside the Georgia state Capitol] every day. So in the end, we will disrupt. At the very end, we will disrupt [operations in the building Jones just mentioned].” Given Alexander’s other comments to the group and the stated purpose of Stop the Steal’s brief daily appearances inside the Georgia Capitol—to compel Georgia Republicans to call a special session, in a sense the same demand the group would make in Washington on January 6, as it wanted the joint session of Congress scheduled for that date to be postponed so that Republican-led state legislatures could call special sessions to decertify Joe Biden’s victory—the Stop the Steal leader’s statement can be taken to mean that on the final day of Georgia Republicans’ opportunity to call a special session, Alexander’s plan, if no such session had yet been called, was to disrupt the Capitol building’s operations from inside of it.

Jones shouts to the crowd before it disperses that they’re just as patriotic as signers of the Declaration of Independence, adding “They may even win this battle [in Georgia], but we’re going to win the war!” In response, a raucous cry of “1776!” can be heard.

As if the Stop the Steal plot for Georgia (and later D.C.) isn’t clear enough already by this point in the video, Alexander then addresses the crowd inside the Capitol, telling them that Stop the Steal won’t, going forward, be holding events that require “stages” or “permits”—suggesting that one reason Stop the Steal used a fictitious name in applying for a permit for a corner of the Capitol grounds on January 6 (see below) is that it had no intention of using that permit or the stage it said it planned to set up in that location. Indeed, statements to Proof by Stop the Steal advocates Jason Rink and Paul Escandon (see below) to the effect that all five of Jones, Alexander, Shroyer, Rink, and Escandon left the Trump rally at the White House Ellipse early to set up a stage at the Capitol appears to be false. There is no evidence such a stage was ever erected, and indeed Jones and Alexander now admit that they not only arrived at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 long after the mob had arrived there, but indeed had done so deliberately by choosing to stop at Freedom Plaza for fifteen minutes on their way to Capitol Hill (Proof has since. published a video of conversations between Alexander, Jones, and Shroyer during this pit stop, in which the three men whisper that they want to wait to see if Trump comes through on his promise to go to the Capitol before they go there; when they hear, live, that the Capitol has been “breached”, Jones quickly blames leftist agitators, earning a dramatic on-camera eye-roll from his aide, Shroyer).

In short, occupation of Georgia’s Capitol was Stop the Steal’s plan in Georgia in mid-November; it was Stop the Steal’s plan when its leader, Ali Alexander, spoke to the White House directly in December (see below); it was Stop the Steal plan’s when its leaders spoke with Trump on January 2; it was Stop the Steal’s plan when Trump spoke directly with Alexander and Jones in a separate conversation on January 2 or January 3, and another one in the VIP area at his Ellipse speech on January 6; and it was the plan as the Stop the Steal leadership—Alexander and Jones—surveyed the attack on the Capitol from their rooftop HQ (see below) on the afternoon of January 6.

While Jones and Alexander spend the video above generally trying to keep the crowd quiet, Alexander’s claim that when crunch-time comes they will “disrupt” operations inside the building is the set-up for this subsequent statement: “We’re going to stay mad, loud, and peaceful. And we’re going to let the American oligarchs know that if they want us to cooperate with their stupid, classic, Big Sugar system, they’re gonna have to appease us. You hear me?” As Proof has repeatedly written, the evidence that Stop the Steal specifically aimed for violence at the Capitol on January 6 is rather slim; there is a mountain of evidence, however, that the plot Alexander lays out in the video above—a mad, loud, peaceful mob occupying a building until it has been “appeased” by having its demands regarding a special session of politicians met—is precisely the plot Stop the Steal and the Trump White House tried to execute on January 6. As was the case on November 18, they were well aware that they might not be able to keep a handle on the mob they were recruiting, but if not, they’d simply say (half-truthfully) that violence had not been their ambition.

As Alexander told the crowd at Georgia’s Capitol in November, “We’re not done yet. We’re going to be outside [the Capitol] for hours. You guys [the mob] have got to come tomorrow, again at noon. Friday, again at noon. And then I’ll have five or ten thousand people Saturday at noon, and we’re just going to stay rowdy.” Keep in mind that Alexander made this speech to a crowd currently inside the Georgia Capitol, which had just been shown that it would be perceived as disruptive if it was “rowdy” inside the building—and who Alexander had just told would be eventually loosed to be “disruptive” (being so, by the terms of his rhetoric, when it was once again inside the building).

It’s clear that Alexander knows the value of having a disruptive mob inside a Capitol. As he’s speaking, Stop the Steal agents and several journalists are taking photographs of the assembled mob. Alexander then says, “What this picture [of a mob inside the Capitol] will do, what this message will do, is get [state GOP reps] to say, ‘Whoa! All these guys [he gestures to the assembled mob] are a bunch of door-knockers and phone-bankers [highly engaged grassroots activists], and if we don’t call a special session, he [Alexander] is going to primary [us] in these districts that we’ve drawn for ourselves.’ So don’t y’all worry, we’ve got a plan to take back the Republic.”

That Alexander is imagining a long-term occupation if his political demands aren’t met is clear. Indeed, still days away from authorizing a “disruption” of the Georgia Capitol via occupation, he says to his followers, “You’ve got to stop going to work. You’ve got to take paid time off. Whatever it takes. If we lose this, we’ve lost the Republic….So let’s get outside [the Capitol] and get rowdy. We’re going to shout, ‘Special session!’ until [Georgia governor Brian] Kemp hears us.” Alexander exits the Capitol foyer as part of a military “stack” (a procedure that soldiers and paramilitary extremists use to move through crowds; Oath Keepers infamously used the technique for high-traffic movements on Insurrection Day).

Despite Alexander’s rhetoric, the mob still gets “rowdy” while in the Georgia Capitol, shouting “Special session!” in unison for minutes as they’re filing out of the building. A Georgia state trooper accosts them as they’re marching inside the building (some in “stack” formation like Alexander): “Keep it down! Keep it down! You are violating the law! You are violating the law!” he says. Many in Alexander’s mob ignore him. It’s all a harrowing foreshadowing of January 6.

As soon as Jones clears the doors of the Capitol, he screams into a megaphone, “1776!”

And as the mob he has assembled begins marching around the Capitol outside, they push aside a metal barricade of the sort Stop the Steal supporters will topple a mere seven weeks later in Washington, DC.

{Note: At one point in the video of Stop the Steal’s rally inside the Capitol, Rep. Vernon Jones makes an odd statement, saying that the crowd must stay relatively quiet because “these guys made accommodations for us”—an apparent reference to state law enforcement inside the building, though this remains unclear. Given lingering questions about whether Stop the Steal had been in contact with any members of either the USCP or MPD prior to Insurrection Day, and whether it therefore thought perhaps “those guys will make accommodations for us” as well, this is a troubling statement from Jones. Certainly, in the aftermath of the insurrection many Trump supporters claimed that they’d been led to believe they would simply be allowed inside the Capitol by sympathetic members of law enforcement—the tactic they’d apparently planned to employ on January 6. Unfortunately for them, many brave officers in fact did their duty on that day.}

In this second video of Alexander’s actions in mid-November at the Georgia Capitol, Alexander, speaking from inside an armored car, thanks Proud Boy leader “Enrique [Tarrio] and those crazy [Proud] Boys” for participating in the action at the Capitol and instructs the mob to keep returning to the Capitol again and again until it “stops the steal.” As most reading this will know, on January 6 the attack on the Capitol was led by the Proud Boys. Later on in the video, Alex Jones is heard shouting through a megaphone, “The great Proud Boys are here [at the Georgia Capitol] to defend the Republic!”

In a confusing monologue to the crowd in Georgia (see below), Rep. Jones urges them to “fight” and get into “good trouble”—by which he makes clear he means nonviolent trouble—yet he repeatedly uses military metaphors. “Let’s build this army!” he shouts to the crowd via megaphone. “They’ve awakened a sleeping giant! We’re coming, and we’re bringing hell with us!” He’s flanked by then-Rep.-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA).

Trump would eventually hand-pick Jones to be one of the speakers for his January 6 Ellipse event. On Insurrection Day, Jones announced that he was switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party and that D.C. Democrats were “demons.”

By December, Oath Keeper Kenneth Harrelson, who would subsequently be charged with being part of a massive Insurrection Day plot that involved keeping a Quick Reaction Force and a weapon stash across the river from the Capitol in Virginia, was telling his wife he was going to Washington to be part of Alexander’s security detail—a link between the Oath Keepers’ seditious armory and Stop the Steal’s Alexander that bears additional investigation.

Indeed, the question must now be asked: what was the purpose of having a cache of weapons close enough to the Capitol that it could ferried across the Potomac River on short notice? If the Oath Keepers had expected January 6 to be peaceful, needless to say they would not have brought weapons to Washington; by the same token, if they believed it would require force to get inside the Capitol, they would’ve brought their weapons with them to the Capitol on January 6—which by and large (a large number of homemade, makeshift, and opportunistic weapons notwithstanding) they did not.

If, on the other hand, Harrelson, other members of Ali Alexander’s security detail, Oath Keeper members of the security detail of Alexander’s fellow Stop the Steal organizer Roger Stone, and additional Oath Keepers under their command, believed, on January 6, that the end result of the paramilitary actions to be taken on January 6 would be an extended occupation of the Capitol with (a) possible hostages inside the building, and (b) armed law enforcement outside of it, the use of an off-site, readily accessible clandestine armory by the insurrectionists makes a great deal more sense.

Ali Alexander’s January 2 Periscope

On January 2—the very day Donald Trump addressed Stop the Steal leaders (possibly including Alexander) and the allies in state government he was demanding decertify Biden’s election victory—the devoutly religious Alexander recorded a very little-seen Periscope video in which he boasts of being “King of the Fall” (presumably he refers to the pseudo-Biblical “Fall” of America, though he does not specify); “King of the Cabal” (presumably an insurrectionist cabal, though again he does not specify); the originator of the hash-tag #DoNotCertify; the owner of websites “DoNotCertify.com” and “DoNotCertify.net” and “DoNotCertify.org”; and being in regular contact with politicians from around the country. He also thanks viewers for their prayers, which he says are protecting him from “curses and hexes and Jezebels and fat enemies.” He ends his video, roughly ten minutes later, with an incoherent rant on the Holy Spirit, “demon[s]”, and direct communion with God; while it’s clear Alexander is somehow connecting “the People” (the term he uses to denote Trump voters) to the will of the Creator, Proof can’t parse his message. What is clear is that, by the end of the video, Alexander is shouting, “May we crush his [God’s] enemies here on Earth!”

Earlier in this bizarre but now historically significant video, Alexander says that he’s just learned that Stop the Steal with be holding another event on January 6 besides the one it was by then permitted for on the Capitol grounds (a federal permit the group had illegally received, per ProPublica, by falsely calling itself a fictitious organization called One Nation Under God). It is clear, from the January 6 schedule Alexander then announces, and his claim that the location for this second and previously unexpected speech is “magical” and “very historic” and “very, very special” (adding, “we have another location on [January] 6th that’s really gonna blow your minds” but “not everyone can speak at this event”) that he is referring to the White House Ellipse event at which Trump spoke on Insurrection Day. Major media has reported, and indeed Alexander and his Stop the Steal co-organizer Alex Jones have previously said, that they were told they could not speak at Trump’s event; just so, Alexander saying that his followers will be meeting at this “different location” at exactly the time doors opened for Trump’s January 6 Ellipse speech confirms the two are one and the same.

That Alexander is only able to make this announcement about Trump’s Ellipse event on the evening of January 2 suggests that it was on January 2 that he learned Stop the Steal would be allowed to link its Capitol event to Trump’s White House-backed one.

{Note: It seems significant that Alexander is unwilling to speak on an open, public channel about the original Stop the Steal event scheduled for January 6, noting only that it’s “at a different location [than the still-unannounced White House Ellipse event] that y’all are familiar with.” That as late as January 2 Alexander would not want any law enforcement officials watching his livestreams to know that he was bringing a mob, at Trump’s request, directly to the Capitol steps, and had no intention of using any stage or permit he had earlier claimed to have procured, is telling. In the video Alexander also promises, incredibly, that “people from the Trump campaign” will be speaking at the Stop the Steal event at Freedom Plaza on January 5, something which did not come to pass but which—given that Alexander appears to believe it on January 2—may also have been intelligence passed to him by Trump and/or his campaign on January 2 in this conference call. Remember that Alexander claims to have met face-to-face and/or spoken with Donald Trump on multiple occasions and for some duration, and there’s photographic evidence confirming at least one such meeting occurred.}

In other words, at some point on January 2—the day Trump spoke to Stop the Steal leadership directly—Stop the Steal leadership learned that Trump’s plan was to draw a major crowd to a non-Capitol location (providing Trump with plausible deniability for anything that ensued at the Capitol) and then to hand off that mob to Stop the Steal.

Indeed, as Proof previously reported, it was during the weekend of January 2 that Alex Jones said Trump asked him and Alexander to lead the march from the Ellipse to the Capitol. So either this request came from Trump during his January 2 conference call, or Stop the Steal leaders had another contact with the sitting president on that day which was even more intimate.

Whoever Alexander spoke to on January 2, by the end of that day he was telling his followers that January 6 would be “the best day of my life” because of where he would be and who he would be with—a reasonably clear concession that he would be (as he ultimately was) in the presence of the President of the United States. “To be honest”, Alexander tells his viewers, “it’s going to be my favorite day of my entire life.” “We have speakers on the 6th [at the Ellipse]”, he continues, appearing to use the first-person plural pronoun “we” to count Trump among Stop the Steal’s speakers. “I’m getting emotional just thinking about it”—still apparently referring to Trump—he adds, ending the thought with, “It’s going to be very special.” When a Periscope viewer responds, “Please tell the president that we love him!” Alexander replies, with a smile and without hesitation, “I will tell the president you love him.”

Toward the end of the video, as Alexander is in the midst of an incoherent rant (“this whole world is fake, it’s about who controls money, so they can control slaves….all of this is slaves’ money, all of it’s slave money, all people want is slave money….the media is fake, there is no such thing as a free press….the purpose of money is to buy people”), he receives a phone call which, unlike other messages sent to his cell phone during his Periscope session, he decides to take. He tells whoever is on the line that he will call them back in five minutes. He speaks rather formally to this person, and immediately sends a text message after hanging up. He then indicates that he must soon end his video because there’s “someone very important that I need to call back.”

Alexander isn’t even able to wait five minutes to do so; he ends his video just three minutes later, saying, “I’ve got to call this person. This is a very important person.”

While we don’t know who Alexander called on the night of January 2, we do know he has admitted to being in contact with “people from the White House” pre-January 6, to having a “deal” with the White House involving January 6, to being in text message contact with the Trump campaign on January 6, and to speaking with Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle (girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr.) on January 5. Rolling Stone now reports that January 6 organizers—a group to which Alexander belongs—say that they were in “dozens” of meetings with members of Congress and White House staff.

{Note: In the video Alexander repeatedly, and without explanation, attacks former NYPD officer John Cardillo. Salon reports that sometime in late 2020 or early 2021, Cardillo and Alexander’s Stop the Steal co-organizer Roger Stone came to be in a very public, very nasty feud over Cardillo’s handling of allegations against Stone friend and bodyguard Sal Greco—an NYPD officer who was at the Willard Hotel with Stone, a Proud Boy, and Oath Keepers on Insurrection Day. For reasons that remain unclear, both Stone and Alexander appear to have felt, even prior to January 6, that it was necessary to discredit anything that Cardillo might say about Greco and his December 2020 or January 2021 activities. Whether this means Greco was the go-between between Stone’s Willard Hotel suite and Trump’s war room on January 6, or that Cardillo has some other special knowledge about Greco that Alexander or Stone worry Cardillo will reveal or in some other way betray, is unclear. But it does suggest that the House has reason now to want to speak to both Greco and Cardillo as well as Stone and Alexander.}

By the morning of January 6, Alexander would be in the front row of the VIP section of Trump’s White House Ellipse speech.

So where did Ali Alexander plan to go after he met Trump in the VIP section of the Ellipse speech? This, too, we know—and it too indicates that the Stop the Steal leader was expecting an occupation. During his January 2 video, Alexander announces that Stop the Steal has just that day signed a “big contract”; this may—though it is not yet confirmed—refer to the rooftop location that both Stop the Steal and InfoWars used to survey the attack on the Capitol on January 6. This location answers to the same description, in every particular, to the one Trump’s OAN co-conspirators appear to have hidden out in on Insurrection Day—and used as a communications base to send information into and receive information from inside the Capitol building.

The Trump-OAN Plot

In a just-uncovered Rudy Giuliani deposition, the Trump lawyer reveals that, as Proof indicated in past reporting—see here and here—there was indeed collusion between Team Trump and One America News Network (OAN) on January 6. And the manner of this collusion now appears tied to the expectation by both colluders that January 6 would result in an occupation of the Capitol rather than some sudden and miraculous Trump victory.

Proof exclusively reported, many months ago, that OAN correspondent Christina Bobb was in the Capitol on January 6 and then, later, at Trump’s Willard Hotel “war room” (or “command center”, depending on whether you’re echoing the words of attendee Joe Oltmann or John Eastman). Talking Points Memo (TPM) now reports that in a recent civil deposition Giuliani admitted, as summarized by TPM, that

[He] told the attorneys [deposing him] that the Trump legal team effectively deputized a reporter for OAN, the pro-Trump news network, to work for the Big Lie. That, Giuliani said, involved Christina Bobb working for Trump’s “personal lawyers”, referring to her as “part of the [Trump] legal team.” In that capacity, Giuliani claimed, she focused on searching for anything that would support the myth that the election had been fraudulent in the key states of Arizona, Michigan, and Georgia. “My staff said she was terrific, she was very trustworthy and if we could work out an agreement with One America News [to have her simultaneously work for Trump and OAN], it would be very helpful”, Giuliani said. “She was a very good investigator.” Bobb has used her TV perch at OAN to both promote the Big Lie and fundraise for elements of it [NB: most notably, the Arizona “audit” that Trump had demanded]. As the reality of Trump’s loss became clearer after the 2020 election, Bobb became increasingly detached from reality in her rhetoric.

While all this is interesting, it took on a new dimension with exclusive new reporting from Proof last week. In an October 27 breaking news story, Proof reported that Bobb’s colleague at OAN, far-right internet provocateur Jack Posobiec—known as one of the progenitors of the QAnon-adjacent “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory that led a Trump-loving, Democrat-hating gunman to shoot up a Washington pizzeria with a military-style assault rifle—says that on January 6 he had an OAN “crew” at the U.S. Capitol feeding him intelligence on the situation inside the building. {Note: Mr. Posobiec has a military intelligence background, having been a Navy intelligence officer, per NBC News.} It remains unclear if Bobb, who was inside the Capitol on January 6, was part of this OAN “crew” feeding intelligence to Posobiec, though it’s hard to imagine such a small network having two separate crews in one building on a single day—and needless to say, even if Bobb, a member of Trump’s legal team, left her crew at the Capitol to go back to the Willard Hotel, she’d still have been in regular contact with them as their on-air talent.

But even more significant than the foregoing is where Posobiec was on January 6. Just as Bobb was either inside the Capitol or in Trump’s Willard Hotel war room at the time of the insurrection—it was one of the two, depending on the time of day—and therefore was in a position to report to John Eastman and the rest of Trump’s legal team, Posobiec says that he was on a rooftop near the Capitol that corresponds in all particulars to the base of operations for Ali Alexander and Stop the Steal, and Alex Jones and Owen Shroyer and a large InfoWars team, on Insurrection Day. What this means is that an OAN news crew may have been in a position to feed intelligence from inside the Capitol to both the HQ of Stop the Steal and the HQ of Trump’s legal team on January 6. Given that, as Proof reported, Stop the Steal and Trump’s legal team worked together—with Trump himself—to set the plan for January 6 through a conference call the two teams jointly organized on January 2, this revelation of a new rooftop Trumpist command center (with an unobstructed line-of-sight to the Capitol) is a profound one.

This new evidence dovetails with prior Proof reporting from April 2021 establishing that Alexander was—by his own videotaped confession—in text-message contact with “the Trump campaign” during the brief period on January 6 that he was outside the Capitol rather than at his rooftop HQ surveying the attack in real-time and refusing (on camera) to “disavow” or “denounce” it. That there was a communications “square” between the Capitol (Alexander, Jones, Bobb and/or the OAN crew); the Trump legal team at the Willard Hotel (Eastman, Giuliani, and Bobb); the rooftop HQ of Stop the Steal and InfoWars (Alexander, Jones, and OAN correspondent Posobiec); and the White House itself (where Trump watched the attack on television but also, at times, called in to the Willard Hotel command center, per Costa and Woodward’s book Peril) is now clear. So what was the purpose of these real-time updates? Certainly it was not to alert the White House to the very real dangers facing members of Congress and the immediate need for assistance from the National Guard, so why did the four corners of this communications square all need updates from inside the Capitol in the midst of an attack? Certainly Congress was no longer meeting at that point, and Trump and his team have insisted that they had no reason prior to January 6 to suspect that even a single Trump voter would enter the Capitol, so why were there so many eyes on the inside of the building?

Additional evidence helps us narrow down the most likely answers to this question.

Trump Lawyers Confess to Knowledge of Occupation Plot

Because, in December 2020 and January 2021, Trump’s “Big Lie” campaign was of a nationwide character—he had lawyers working on his behalf to try to overturn the will of U.S. voters in at least six battleground states—there are many Trump lawyers who most Americans still haven’t heard of.

One such lawyer is Robert Barnes.

Trump solicited—we cannot say “hired,” as we have no idea if Trump ever paid him or had an intention of paying him—the larger-than-life, cigar-chomping Barnes to be one of his legal representatives in his effort to steal the 2020 presidential election.

The day of the insurrection, Barnes, who had been privy to thinking within Trump’s legal team about what would happen at the Capitol on January 6, gave a lengthy interview to a fellow insurrectionist. The many revelations from this interview are stunning, and underscore that Trump’s legal team saw January 6 as an “occupation” plot rather than merely a brief, time-delimited armed strike on a stationary target.

At 12:20 in the video below we hear the following from Barnes (emphasis supplied):

This [the U.S. Capitol] is literally the People’s house [NB: Team Trump regularly uses the term ‘People’ to denote Trump voters]. This is the People’s House of Representatives. If there’s any building that I’m going to get least offended by being occupied by Americans, it’s gonna be the People’s House of Representatives. So that’s not gonna upset me. Violence would upset me. But people occupying—people deciding to play, to pretend they’re Speaker of the House, with the [Speaker’s] gavel, there’s some of that the politicians need. Need some of that mockery. I wasn’t bothered by that one bit….some degree of frustration is to be expected. You can’t tell [the] People the courts are closed, Congress is closed, the state legislatures are closed, we can’t hear your evidence about whether election fraud occurred, and maybe we stole your vote, too? What do you think [the] People are going to do? You’re telling people they have no power left other than their physical actions.

Obviously this seditious rhetoric is startling on its face, but it’s also worth unpacking.

Whereas Team Trump now claims that there was no plan to enter the U.S. Capitol on January 6, only to protest outside it, this Trump lawyer—who was a Trump agent on January 6—said, on Insurrection Day, that the Capitol “need[ed]” to be invaded, that “physical actions” were the only recourse for Trump voters, and that the specific “actions” that were taken and which didn’t get him “[the] least offended” constituted, as he said twice, an “occupation” of the Capitol building (one that was guaranteed to postpone for some period of time the joint session of Congress that Trump needed postponed). But just as telling, during the comment above Barnes also falsely says that the National Guard was called out “quickly” by the Trump administration on January 6, and noted his displeasure at this. In fact, it took the National Guard hours to arrive at the Capitol to end the Trumpist occupation there, suggesting that Barnes, as a representative of Team Trump, was, like Trump himself, put out by the fact that the Guard arrived at the Capitol even hours late rather than (for instance) in the evening of January 6, the next day (on January 7), or perhaps not at all. Indeed, Barnes betrays the thinking of Team Trump by observing (falsely) that during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 the National Guard was never called out to any of the protests—a lie that suggests Team Trump may have anticipated and indeed demanded the same “treatment” for his big insurrection at the Capitol. This may well why then-president Trump felt so justified in refusing to call out the Guard.

At 20:00 in the video below Trump lawyer Barnes says (emphasis supplied):

The other question is, how do people feel about occupying buildings? Because at least the media and the Left has historically celebrated occupying buildings. So there were going to be some People who were going to react this way [attempting to occupy the U.S. Capitol]. So that’s why it wouldn’t surprise me if some portion of Trumpists were the people who decided to take over the Capitol building.

This statement is more astounding than many will realize at first blush. Most notably, this member of Trump’s legal team indicates that he felt no surprise at the attempted occupation, and that he knew in advance, as a Trump lawyer, that “there were going to be some [Trump voters] who were going to react this way” and try to occupy the Capitol. But even beyond this, we must remember that there was no public rhetoric coming from Stop the Steal—for all its pre-insurrection belligerence—indicating that it intended to go inside the Capitol. Nor was such a design articulated by anyone on Team Trump in their speeches on January 6. Yet here we have a Trumpworld insider suggesting that, behind the scenes, an occupation was expected by such an insider. This underscores that conversations had been held within Trump’s team about what was going to happen on January 6 that were specific and did not dovetail with their public statements.

Barnes is clearly sensate, however, to the impression his words are leaving, so he later appends to his prior remarks, “No one I knew knew anything about this in advance.”

This position—that the occupation was utterly foreseeable to Trump’s team, that what happened was exactly what Trump’s team expected would happen, that Trump’s team considers what happened to have been just, but that no one on the team ever explicitly ensured it would happen—is unsustainable. When you are in constant clandestine contact with a group of people you expect will do a particular illegal thing, believe that thing would be justified, and know that them doing that thing would benefit your interests, the notion (already implausible) that nothing you ever said made the illegal act you expected, invited, and benefited from more likely is bereft of common sense.

But if you doubt that—by some means—Trump’s legal team knew what would happen on January 6, Barnes thereafter erases all doubt.

At 43:53 in the video below he says (emphasis supplied):

I knew something was going to happen [at the Capitol on January 6]. So I was meeting with some people instead. I mean, I was concerned about something worse [happening at the Capitol].

Barnes is so focused here on being self-exculpatory that he appears not to realize how damning his words are. First, he explicitly says that he “knew” something—something he has already identified, repeatedly, as an “occupation”—was “going to happen” on January 6. Next he says, again as a Trump lawyer on January 6, that what he expected would also happen was violence (he goes on to mention the bombs at the RNC and DNC as being more in line with what he was expecting, so he is clearly referring to domestic terrorism on Capitol Hill). The notion that Team Trump was expecting terrorism on Capitol Hill on January 6 and went ahead with Trump’s incitement-filled speech anyway; that it was expecting terrorism and nevertheless coordinated directly with Stop the Steal leaders; that it was expecting terrorism and nevertheless tried to prevent the National Guard from aiding members of the U.S. Congress, is astounding.

At 9:30 in the video we get this from Barnes (emphasis supplied)

[The Capitol attack] was like the Occupy Wall Street movement. And, you know, it goes way back—we have a long history [in the U.S.] of occupying government buildings. It goes back to the American Revolution.

So if you wonder if Team Trump not only expected and welcomed the “occupy[ing]” of the Capitol on January 6 but even considered such sedition patriotic, wonder no more.

But Barnes is not the only Trump lawyer who, without realizing how inculpatory such a confession would be, has spoken to what Trump’s legal team expected on January 6.

In an interview with Sidney Powell previously reported on by Proof—an interview that was deleted soon after the report by Proof, perhaps on the (vain) hope that members of the House January 6 Committee do not read Proof and therefore will not subpoena a copy of the interview—the Team Kraken leader confessed that Trump’s lawyers filed for an emergency injunction against Congress that they believed Supreme Court Justice Samual Alito would grant if he were merely given 48 hours to review it, and that the team was surprised and frustrated when Pelosi and McConnell reconvened the joint session so quickly, as it meant Alito would not be able to hear the petition in time to stop Biden’s election victory being certified. Had the Capitol been successfully occupied, as Barnes anticipated it would be, the delay might well have been sufficient for Alito to act. In this now-deleted interview, Powell makes clear that she expected Congress would not reconvene on January 6 if the Capitol were attacked. This view dovetails with that of her Team Kraken peer Joe diGenova—another Trump lawyer—who mysteriously insisted prior to January 6, as Proof just reported, that he believed the joint session might not finish until as late as January 8 (exactly the 48-hour period that Trump and his legal team needed to get Alito to rule on their emergency petition).

These revelations put into a new perspective Trump lawyer Giuliani’s demand for a “trial by combat” less than an hour before the Capitol was attacked—a statement he made alongside fellow Trump lawyer John Eastman.

And indeed there are new revelations about Eastman, too, that establish the plan for an occupation as emanating (at least in part) from inside Trump’s legal team.

On October 29, the Washington Post reported that Eastman exhibited no surprise at the attempted occupation of the Capitol as it was happening, and indeed pressed a lawyer for Mike Pence to postpone the joint session of Congress even after it’d become clear that this was the aim of the Trumpist mob refusing to leave the building. According to the Post, “Eastman continued to press for Pence to act even after Trump’s supporters had trampled through the Capitol”, despite Pence’s chief counsel Greg Jacob writing furiously to Eastman via email that the Capitol was under “siege.” Eastman’s response—as insurrectionists seeking “trial by combat” were literally hunting for Jacob’s boss, the Vice President of the United States, through the halls of the Capitol—was simply this (emphasis in original): “The ‘siege’ is because YOU and your boss did not do what was necessary to allow this to be aired in a public way so that the American people can see for themselves what happened.”

But the biggest revelation in the Post report is a buried lede that—because it was buried—has been ignored by major media ever since. In the forty-sixth paragraph of the Post report, the newspaper reveals that because, after the rioters had been cleared from the Capitol on January 6, “Pence allowed other lawmakers to speak before they returned to counting the votes, and said he wasn’t counting the time from his [post-attack] speech or the other lawmakers against the time allotted in the Electoral Count Act”, Eastman decided to write Pence’s attorney again “to say that Pence should not certify the election because he had already violated the Electoral College Act, which Pence had cited as a reason that he could not send the electors back to the states.”

Eastman’s demand was so damning it could easily had been the lede in the Post report.

As a top legal representative of the sitting President of the United States on January 6, Eastman was telling the Vice President of the United States, through his legal counsel, that then-president Trump deserved to receive the benefit of the occupation of the Capitol.

Eastman now concedes that that’s exactly what he was telling Pence’s chief counsel:

My point [Eastman told the Post] was they had already violated the Electoral Count Act by allowing debate to extend past the allotted 2 hours, and by not reconvening “immediately” in joint session after the vote [o]n the objection [to Biden electors from Arizona], [i]t seemed that [they] had already set the precedent that it was not an impediment [to sending the question of certification “back” to state legislatures in the six states Trump was contesting].

Understand what Eastman is saying here: that the insurrection should have worked. It should have thrown the procedures mandated by the Electoral Count Act into such confusion that it freed up Trump’s allies in Congress to ignore the Act altogether.

Given the remarks above by Barnes, Powell, Giuliani, diGenova, and Eastman himself, there appears to be no possibility Eastman first concocted this latter legal theory on Trump’s behalf after the attack on the Capitol had begun. Indeed, given how clear Barnes is on the fact that, as a Trump lawyer, he not only “knew” the Capitol would be occupied and believed there would be violence in the building; given Sidney Powell’s expression of shock and annoyance that the attack on the Capitol did not lead to the joint session being postponed beyond January 6; given diGenova’s prediction that the joint session would not be able to conclude on January 6, and indeed might run until January 8 (or perhaps beyond); given Giuliani’s exhortation to an angry mob minutes before the Capitol was attacked that they seek “trial by combat” (an echo of his peer Barnes saying that “physical actions” were the only option left to Trumpists as of the morning of January 6), it is impossible that Eastman first considered the utility of an occupation of the Capitol after it had already occurred—as he had been cloistered with Giuliani, Powell, diGenova, and possibly Barnes in the weeks pre-insurrection. He would have had to have been implausibly aloof from their assumptions to not have planned, in advance, a post-occupation appeal to the Vice President to the effect that the occupation made continued adherence to the Electoral Count Act a moot point.

That Eastman made his argument to Jacob the moment it became clear the occupation had failed and was ending only further suggests that it was part of the plan concocted by Trump’s legal team to use the illegal occupation of the Capitol it expected and had clearly planned for as part of its legal strategy to coerce VP Pence into aiding Trump.

Eastman’s view echoes that of domestic terrorist Ali Alexander—with whom Eastman had been on a conference call, one joined by Trump himself, just 96 hours earlier. The call had been, as Proof reported, set up jointly by Eastman’s team and Alexander’s. On the subject of whether a mob action inside the Capitol on January 6 should supersede established law (for instance, the Electoral Count Act that John Eastman believed an occupation would trump), Alexander said the following on the evening of his call with Eastman and Trump: “We [Stop the Steal leaders, including Trump agent Alex Jones and Trump adviser Roger Stone] work for the will of the ‘The ‘People’ [Stop the Steal shorthand for Trump voters]. And we work for the defense of the People. And the People are stronger than our government. The People are stronger than the rules. If we don’t like the rules, the rules are done. The rules are changed.”

So not only would Eastman have to have ignored the intentions of his fellow Trump legal team members to not have prepared a post-occupation argument to Jacobs, he would have had to ignore the very insurrectionist leaders with whom he had been in personal communication just a matter of hours earlier. That Eastman has repeatedly been caught lying about his actions in the lead-up to the insurrection, not just by the Post but even undercover independent investigative journalists, underscores that the premise that Eastman was naive in the run-up to January 6 ought not be indulged.

Conclusion

In late June of 2021, ProPublica reported on a large cache of emails that revealed, per the digital media outlet, that “senior Trump aides had been warned the January 6 events could turn chaotic, with tens of thousands of people [at the U.S. Capitol] potentially overwhelming ill-prepared law enforcement officials.” While both well-substantiated and clearly—especially in light of subsequent evidence—correct, the report did not establish what sort of “chaos” Team Trump expected on January 6. As a result, some readers may have believed that Trump and his team sensed a potential if vague danger prior to Insurrection Day and simply ignored it as an unjustified worry. Some readers may even have thought that this perhaps unwarranted concern did not reach all the way to Trump himself, which might explain why he took the stage at what was billed as a Stop the Steal event at the White House Ellipse and then did all he could to whip his supporters into a mob-like frenzy. Such readers might not even be aware that Trump had told Stop the Steal’s leadership, specifically Alexander and Jones, that he would also be speaking at an event sponsored by them on the Capitol grounds on January 6—a promise that, in subsequently being broken, helps confirm that, as ProPublica indicated was true with respect to Trump’s aides, the president apprehended that there would be chaos at the Capitol following his Ellipse speech.

Chaos, however, doesn’t suggest a plot or plan, and therefore an awareness of possible chaos doesn’t suggest awareness of a plot or plan. Yet the Trump White House was in fact well aware of there being both a plot and a plan for occupation prior to January 6, and we know this because Trump and his team participated in the strategy sessions laying out that plot and plan (or, if you like, the strategy and tactics) for January 6.

This new understanding of Trump and his team’s intentions for January 6 is vital.

Prior to this new reporting, quality major-media investigative journalism like that from ProPublica held that “Rally organizers interviewed by ProPublica said they did not expect January 6 to culminate with the violent sacking of the Capitol. But they acknowledged they were worried about plans by the Stop the Steal movement to organize an unpermitted march that would reach the steps of the building as Congress gathered to certify the election results.” This distinction is a critical one; from the jump, Trump and his allies were telling major media that the one thing they could not have envisioned was (a) any Trump supporter entering the U.S. Capitol, no matter how close they might come to it as participants in an angry mob, and (b) any Trumpist plot or plan involving the occupation of the Capitol for any period of time.

This “acknowledgment” by “rally organizers” now seems meaningless, however, given that a viral digital flyer passed around by Stop the Steal well before January 6 made clear that it planned to surpass the tiny corner of the Capitol grounds it was permitted to protest in and instead head for the steps the Capitol. Note, below, that the “Wild Protest” Alexander had specifically attached to Trump’s December tweet about January 6 being “wild” promised Trump voters that they would be headed to the “US Capitol lawn and steps”, not a preselected, distant corner of the Capitol grounds.

The focus for the FBI, DOJ, and now Congress has always been on who knew that (a) the U.S. Capitol was to be breached, and (b) how long that breach was expected to last.

Needless to say, even those rally organizers who lied to ProPublica by indicating they had no basis to worry about anything beyond a march to the steps of the Capitol were soon found to be contradicting one another even as to their limited confession. Two rally organizers, Steve Bannon assistants Dustin Stockton and his wife Jennifer Lynn Lawrence, told major media that Amy Kremer (head of Women for America First, the organization which, with Stop the Steal and Katrina Pierson from the White House, planned the events of January 6) told them she’d contacted the White House to warn Trump and his team about the dangers posed by the very march by Stop the Steal we now know Trump explicitly coordinated with Alex Jones and Ali Alexander. Kremer now says that she never made any such call—either to Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, or to her friend Lara Trump (wife of Eric Trump), both of which contacts have been alleged by her associates—and we’ve since learned Stockton and Lawrence spent January 6 with some of the same Oath Keepers who stormed the Capitol. In short, even the leading insurrectionists self-aggrandizing, minimizing lies about the plan for January 6 contain their own lies, and those lies themselves even smaller lies.

One telling text message reported on by ProPublica—which casts doubt on Kremer’s claim that the White House wasn’t in the loop about the possible chaos on January 6—sees Kremer writing an associate about Ali Alexander and his fellow insurrectionist leader Cindy Chafian (head of the insurrectionist Eighty Percent Coalition) to say, “The White House and Team Trump are aware of the situation with Ali and Cindy. I need to be the one to handle both.” The notion that after speaking with the White House about possible chaos on January 6, Kremer’s understanding was that she was to be the sole arbiter of how two insurrectionist groups would be handled is chilling. It certainly might leave the impression that the White House did not want these groups to stand down, and did not want Kremer—who was in touch with the White House and clearly willing to take orders from it—delegating oversight of these two groups to someone who might be less under the sway of “the White House and Team Trump.”

As importantly, we now have a much better understanding of who was still on Team Trump as of January 6. Many aides, sensing things spiraling out of control, had begun pulling away from White House’s operation and looking forward to their next job by January 6. This wasn’t the case, however, of Anthony Ornato of the Secret Service and (simultaneously, incredibly) Trump’s political team; this wasn’t the case for top Trump advisers Pierson and Guilfoyle; and, most importantly, as Proof has established across scores of reports since February 2021, “Team Trump” comprised a group of lawyers, adjuncts to those lawyers, and other Trump sycophants who descended on the Willard Hotel—at the same time Stop the Steal organizers Roger Stone, Alex Jones, and Owen Shroyer were arriving to stay at the hotel—at the beginning of Insurrection Week. It is simply no longer accurate to say that this group, the largest contingent by influence and number on Team Trump as of January 6, was merely worried about the possibility of “chaos” on January 6. As indicated in this article, Trump’s lawyers and their several adjuncts had a more finely honed sense of what was likely to occur inside the Capitol on January 6. And this view was shared by the President of the United States himself.

Even as ProPublica reported in June that “it remains unclear precisely what [Trump chief of staff Mark] Meadows and other White House officials learned of safety concerns about the march and whether they took those reports seriously”, the data curated by Proof was telling a different story altogether. As confirmed by numerous major media sources (see the Proof curations of such reporting here and here), days before January 6 the Secret Service had personally informed Trump that his safety could not be guaranteed were he to attempt to speak at Ali Alexander’s “Wild Protest” on the Capitol steps on January 6. It’s for this very reason that on January 2 Alexander announced on his Periscope video that his plans for who would be speaking when and where had just changed. On that date at the latest, Alexander was informed that the planned Stop the Steal event scheduled for the morning of January 6 (not the “Wild Protest” scheduled for midday but the “Freedom Rally” permitted for a corner of the Capitol grounds) was to become a presidential event at the White Houser Ellipse that he and Alex Jones would be allowed to attend only as VIPs rather than speakers (Kim Guilfoyle aide Caroline Wren finally lost her argument with Pierson on this point on January 2, ProPublica reports, as it was on this day—the day Trump and his team were setting the plan for January 6 via a conference call with Stop the Steal and pro-Trump state legislators—that “senior White House officials” stepped in on Trump’s behalf to decide what Stop the Steal would and would not be doing on January 6; ProPublica further reports that this dispute was brought directly to Trump’s attention by Pierson on Monday, January 4).

So it is no surprise that it also was on the weekend of January 2 that Trump, having acceded to the security review of the Secret Service, asked Alexander and Jones to personally lead the march to the Capitol after being escorted by Secret Service (under Ornato’s direction) to the march’s starting point from the VIP section of the Ellipse.

So contrary to ProPublica’s submission in June, it is not, in fact, “unclear” when the White House—even Trump himself—knew that the U.S. Capitol would be unsafe on January 6. It (and Trump) knew this by January 2 at the very latest, and took significant steps in response to it. This is one reason Stop the Steal organizers were allegedly caught off guard when Trump announced at the Ellipse that he would in fact be going to the Capitol with the marchers (see the preceding two links for the comments on this by Stop the Steal indie documentary filmmakers Jason Rink and Paul Escandon).

{Note: The morning after the January 2 conference call and Ali Alexander’s now-infamous Periscope session, Trump announced—to the surprise of some White House officials but not, apparently, Trump’s legal team—that he would be speaking at the Stop the Steal event at the White House Ellipse on January 6. As ProPublica reports, January 3 is also the day that “a website went live promoting a march on January 6. It instructed demonstrators to meet at the Ellipse, then march to the Capitol at 1PM to ‘let the establishment know we will fight back against this fraudulent election. The fate of our nation depends on it.” On January 2 or January 3 Trump personally asked Jones and Alexander—who may both have been on the January 2 conference call as Stop the Steal leaders—to lead this just-announced “march.”}

In the same way that we just found out that Donald Trump begged the Atlanta Braves to invite him to a World Series game—apparently so he could dog-whistle to white nationalists by doing the “Tomahawk Chop” on live national television—and then, once they said yes, lied to the nation by saying that he’d not only been “invited” to go but invited by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball himself, Trump appears to have contrived to simultaneously have no intention and every intention of speaking at the Capitol (as opposed to merely the Ellipse) on January 6, and to believe that those who attacked the Capitol were his most ardent supporters even as none of them were.

While this “willful igorance”—a legal term—is no defense against an indictment, and indeed does much more to confirm Speaker Pelosi’s post-Insurrection Day assessment of Trump as mentally ill (“He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time. So don’t say you don’t know what his state of mind is”, she fumed to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley on January 8), it also constitutes what a longtime criminal defense attorney like myself, who has spoken confidentially with thousands of charged criminal defendants, would call “consciousness of guilt.” Trump at once holds two opposing ideas in his head so that he can deploy whichever protects his legal interests, but rather than being some sort of exculpatory helplessness this is, in fact, a very common trait among career criminals. They are prepared, at a moment’s notice, to say whatever serves their interests. And since that interest might change in the course of even a single phone call, as it did when Trump spoke to McCarthy on January 6, at times the supposedly earnest “belief” of a criminal changes mid-sentence.

What is far less easily malleable is the consistent evidence, from the private or select-company-only confessions of Trump and his inner circle—and from the evidence we derive from their actions—that Team Trump knew that there would not merely be chaos at the Capitol on January 6, but that the Capitol was certain to be occupied for some duration.

When that duration turned out to be far briefer than expected, we now know, from a quickly-deleted Sidney Powell interview, that Trump’s whole legal team was shocked.

Fortunately, it also had a Plan B, which legal team member John Eastman deployed in urging Mike Pence’s chief counsel to use the fact of a brief occupation as sufficient justification to postpone the joint session of Congress. In this way, Trump’s refusal to call out the National Guard despite the pleas of McCarthy and other allies in Congress—who felt their lives to be legitimately in danger from the mob Trump had sent to the Capitol—dovetailed perfectly with the actions of his attorney. By ensuring that there would be insufficient law enforcement at the Capitol following the attack on January 6, Trump enabled Eastman to argue to Jacob that a sufficient delay in the joint session had been caused to justify postponing the event altogether. That Trump was in touch with Eastman on January 2, January 4, January 5, and January 6 only underscores that the synchronicity between the designs of the attorney and his client wasn’t accidental.

Just so, when ProPublica reports that “White House officials worked behind the scenes to prevent the leaders of the march from appearing on stage and embarrassing the president. But Trump then undid those efforts with his speech, urging the crowd to join the march on the Capitol organized by the very people who had been blocked from speaking”, here too the outlet has it only partially correct.

As Jones and Alexander have repeatedly confirmed, Trump did not undo any efforts by his staff to keep him out of January 6 organizing “with his speech”; instead, he did so on January 2—at the very latest—when he personally recruited Alexander and Jones to lead a march on the Capitol (with Anthony Ornato using Secret Service agents to aid the plan). Whether the fact that Trump had blown up any prior cautions by his staff 96 hours before the insurrection—at least—means that these staffers well knew what the president had done so and are now lying to the media in implying otherwise is unclear.

What is clear is that there was no line that either Trump or Alexander weren’t willing to cross in effectuating an occupation of the United States Capitol on January 6.

After Alexander told his followers during a December 2020 livestream that “we’re willing to work with racists”, he was challenged by a gay Stop the Steal lieutenant, Brandon Straka, who deemed white nationalist “Groyper” leader Nick Fuentes a “disgusting” homophobe. Alexander’s response was that Fuentes and Alex Jones were: “very valuable” because they “push bodies….where we [Stop the Steal] point.” On January 6, Alexander, having apparently been on a conference call with Trump and his legal team just 96 hours earlier, pointed bodies at America’s Capitol—and not merely the Capitol grounds, but the inside of the Capitol building. It was an echo of his action in Georgia in mid-November.

As if to prove the point that Stop the Steal’s faux-messianic leader—who routinely positions himself as an instrument of God—sees his followers as simply “bodies”, when Straka texted Alexander on January 6 to say, “I’m at the Capitol and just joined the breach!!! I just got gassed! Never felt so fucking alive in my life!!!”, Alexander, who had already retired to the safety of his rooftop headquarters and “overwatch” position, wrote to Straka and fellow Stop the Steal leader Michael Coudrey—who is widely believed to still be in Africa after fleeing there post-insurrection“Everyone get out of there. The FBI is coming hunting.” Alexander had pointed the bodies to the Capitol for an occupation, but he still needed to preserve his leadership team. As ProPublica reports, Alexander has, since January 6, begun speaking regularly of “civil war”, at one point telling his “inner circle” of lieutenants, “Don’t denounce anything [involving January 6. You don’t want to be on the opposite side of freedom fighters in the coming conflict. [After the Second Civil War], veterans [of that war] will be looking for civilian political leaders [like us].”

As Alexander’s confession makes clear, the stakes of distinguishing between a nasty, sudden “riot” and a failed occupation—a would-be coup—couldn’t possibly be higher.

{Note: On the very day I publish this, Fox News host Tucker Carlson is airing a documentary in which Alexander acts scandalized at the notion he could be deemed a white nationalist, despite having crowed, following a mid-November 2020 Stop the Steal event, that “Thirty percent of that crowd [at the ‘Million MAGA March’ on November 14] was Alex Jones’ crowd. And there were thousands and thousands of Groypers—America First young white men. Even if you thought these were bad people, why can’t bad people do good tasks? Why can’t bad people fight for their country?” Though Carlson’s documentary glorifies a domestic terrorist openly pushing for civil war, social media platforms have as yet taken no action to curtail previews of it, despite it pushing a conspiracy theory that January 6 was a “false flag.”}