Team Trump Had a Second Pre-Insurrection War Room

An investigation of who was in this second Insurrection Eve war room has now begun.

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Introduction

As this publication has exclusively and exhaustively detailed, on the eve of the January 6 insurrection Team Trump convened a 23-person war council at Trump International Hotel in D.C. to plot out—as attendees have since confessed—what would happen the following day. It is now clear that a second, contemporaneous pre-insurrection war council was held at a nearby Washington hotel and that it may well have been linked, through either phone or video conferencing, to the first.

This previously unreported news could significantly swell the size of Donald Trump’s pre-insurrection planning team, even as it remains possible (indeed, a possibility that has been extensively investigated here at Proof) that any remote conferencing that occurred the night before the January 6 insurrection also included the White House.

The Two War Rooms

The group that convened at Trump International on January 5 included, per eyewitness accounts previously compiled by Proof, the following members of Trump’s family, legal team, campaign staff, advisory corps, donor class, circle of friends, allies in Congress, and presidential administration: Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Corey Lewandowski, David Bossie, Michael Flynn, Peter Navarro, Adam Piper, Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Nebraska GOP gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, Rudy Giuliani, Michael Lindell, Eduardo Bolsonaro, Doyle Beck, Daniel Beck, Layne Bangerter, and two additional unnamed U.S. senators, one of whom prior Proof reports suggest was Ted Cruz (R-TX). Domestic terrorist Ali Alexander “attended” by phone.

Other possible attendees—whose status is still being investigated in light of evidence they were present—include Alex Jones, Sidney Powell, Patrick Byrne, and Guiliani cybersecurity adviser Phil Waldron. As Proof has previously noted, and as will become vital to the account below, four individuals from the two lists above now claim (or have had it claimed by legal counsel) that they weren’t, in fact, part of any meeting involving Trump International Hotel on January 5, despite eyewitness accounts to the contrary. Those individuals are Michael Flynn, Rudy Giuliani, Peter Navarro, and David Bossie.

Based on the evidence now available, the largest possible size of the group that met at Trump International Hotel on January 5—all members of Trump’s inner circle—is 23.

But emerging evidence—see below—now suggests a sizable team of Trump insiders concurrently gathered, on January 5, at the Willard InterContinental Washington D.C. Hotel (“the Willard”) at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave., 0.3 miles from the White House.

The group that gathered at the Willard Hotel on January 5 appears to have been nearly as large, if not larger, than the group at Trump International Hotel. Possible attendees include, of those not also reported to have been involved in the January 5 meeting at Trump International, the following: Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Steve Bannon, John Eastman, Robert Hyde, Russell Ramsland Jr., Jim Penrose, Sal Greco, Jennifer Lynn Lawrence, and Dustin Stockton. Moreover, among the Willard war room attendees concurrently said to have been involved in a meeting at Trump International Hotel we find Rudy Giuliani, Ali Alexander, Sidney Powell, Michael Flynn, Phil Waldron, and Peter Navarro. In all, the suspected roster of Willard war room attendees numbers 16, though that number may swell after additional investigations at Proof and elsewhere.

Indeed, just two photos of the Willard war room taken by Robert Hyde on Insurrection Day alone (the one below and this one) show ten people, only three of whom—Giuliani, Eastman and Hyde—can be identified, and are thus included in the attendee list above.

{Note: The man in the white shirt in the first picture below may be Owen Shroyer, who works with and for Alex Jones at InfoWars. The second picture below is Shroyer on January 5, 2021. Shroyer introduced Jones at the Freedom Plaza event that day. The two were followed on stage by Ali Alexander, who oddly said that Trump “calls me ‘Sammy Davis Jr.’ every time he sees me” (emphasis supplied). Alexander introduced Roger Stone by noting that Stone, who was then staying at the Willard, had offered “counsel” to Trump’s legal team—headquartered at the Willard—and that, as of January 5, Stone’s Stop the Steal “movement” was at “war.” After Stone speaks, someone is heard repeatedly calling “Victoria! Victoria! Victoria!”, which may refer to Trump lawyer Victoria Toensing. It is unclear if Toensing stayed at the Willard also.}

Those who have followed the January 6 investigation closely will note that the Willard Hotel war room attendee list includes a substantially larger number of dubious figures (for instance Hyde, who aided in Trump’s efforts to steal the 2020 presidential election in Ukraine, as detailed in a chapter in my 2020 Macmillan book Proof of Corruption) as compared to the Trump International list, which may underscores why it has taken so long for this second war room to be disclosed to the public.

Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Steve Bannon and the Willard

While Roger Stone spoke briefly to the crowd at Freedom Plaza on January 5—and in his remarks incited insurrection through militant, bizarrely pseudo-religious rhetoric—and while he also spoke in front the Supreme Court building earlier on January 5, in both instances traveling via golf cart and flanked by Oath Keepers, everyone seems to agree that Stone wasn’t at Trump International on January 5; that he never showed up to Trump’s January 6 Ellipse speech, as his Stop the Steal co-organizers Alexander and Jones and had expected him to do; and that he never showed up for his “Wild Protest” speech at the Capitol, despite having publicly raised money for the latter appearance.

So where was Roger Stone the rest of the time on January 5 and January 6? According to Stone himself, he was at the Willard Hotel. A video from ABC News confirms that this is where Stone was staying during the insurrection, with Stone further telling the network that he “never left the site of my hotel until leaving for Dulles Airport” on the afternoon of January 6. Stone’s statement makes clear that it was not that he stayed in his room at the Willard, but that he remained on hotel grounds—a distinction that is critical now. Stone’s NYPD bodyguard Sal Greco stayed with him at the Willard Hotel.

As for Alex Jones—who has said the White House asked him to lead the march on the Capitol; who has said he (with Alexander) was in text communication with the Trump campaign from the Capitol as it was being attacked; and whose top lieutenant Owen Shroyer appears to be pictured above, with Rudy Giuliani, in the Willard war room—per Yahoo! News he stayed at the Willard for a Stop the Steal event in November 2020 and, per Politico, also stayed at the Willard for a December 2020 Stop the Steal event.

But now an amazing five-part exposé by a French independent journalist publishing via Montréal-based website Centpapiers further reveals—using simple and easily confirmed photographic analysis—that the January 5 interview Michael Flynn conducted with Alex Jones, reported on at length at Proof, was held at the Willard, meaning both men were at the site of Trump’s second war room on Insurrection Eve.

{Note: This same exposé offers pictures that seem to indicate top Trump adviser Peter Navarro was with Dustin Stockton at the Willard at some point during the lead-up to the insurrection, as well as providing pictures of Stockton and his wife Jennifer Lynn Lawrence in the VIP area of Trump’s Ellipse speech alongside top Trump congressional ally Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of Ali Alexander’s self-confessed co-conspirators in plotting the dire events of January 6.}

The aforementioned couple, Lawrence and Stockton, have at various points been Steve Bannon acolytes, employees, and business associates, and were known to have been at the Willard Hotel pre-insurrection. According to this report by the New York Times,

Two organizers helping the [post-election Stop the Steal] effort, Jennifer Lawrence and Dustin Stockton, were close to Bannon, having worked at Breitbart and then at his nonprofit seeking private financing to help complete Trump’s border wall. In August [2020], federal prosecutors accused Bannon of defrauding the nonprofit’s donors, after an investigation that included a raid of Lawrence and Stockton’s motor home; they were not implicated, and Bannon, who pleaded not guilty, was later pardoned by the president. A onetime organizer for the hard-line Gun Owners of America, according to his LinkedIn page, Stockton had come to know members of the Three Percenters militia group.

[Jennifer Lynn] Lawrence had personal ties to Trump. Her father was a real estate broker in the Hudson Valley, where Trump has a golf club and his sons have a hunting ranch. “He’s done business with Trump for over a decade, so I’ve had the opportunity of meeting the president and interacting with him on a lot of occasions”, she said in an interview. She also knew [Michael] Flynn through their mutual association with a conservative think tank.

By [approximately 2PM ET on January 6], with “all hell breaking loose”, as Stockton put it, he and Lawrence decided to take golf carts back to their room at the Willard Hotel and “await instructions about whether to go back to the Ellipse.”

While Lawrence and Stockton’s presence at the Willard Hotel doesn’t ensure Bannon’s, the two Bannon associates’ unusual use of golf carts in downtown Washington during the insurrection—mirroring the use of such vehicles by Stop the Steal, Roger Stone, and the Oath Keepers—as well as the notion that they went to the Willard to “await instructions” from an unnamed superior, group of superiors, or group of compatriots, suggests the possibility that Bannon and/or the Three Percenter leadership were at the Willard at some point during the run-up to the insurrection or on Insurrection Day.

How Proof Learned About the War Room at the Willard

On May 5, 2021, in a little-heard interview with self-described “birther” Peter Boyles, former Chapman University and University of Colorado-Boulder law professor John Eastman—known for falsely saying prior to the 2020 election that Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris was ineligible to run for Vice President due to not being a U.S. citizen—told Boyles that that in January 2021 he “was representing the President of the United States in the Supreme Court on one of the most significant legal issues to have come down the pike in half a century.” Eastman, who notes that he “spoke right before the president” at the Ellipse on January 6, further tells Boyles he can reveal private conversations he had with his “client” Donald Trump pre-insurrection because he has received “express” permission from Trump to do so.

Eastman confesses to Boyles that in the days prior to and including the attack on the Capitol, he, Giuliani, and unnamed others “had a war room at the Willard Hotel [in Washington] kind of coordinating all of the communications.…[it was in] a suite of offices.” Significant in this, of course, is not only Eastman’s description of the space as a “war room,” but his contention that Giuliani used the room in the days prior to the insurrection. Why does this matter? Because it raises new questions about another pre-insurrection war room: the one at Trump International. Was Giuliani at the Trump International war room on January 5, the Willard war room, or both? This question has larger implications than may at first appear, so we begin by unpacking what we know:

(1) Charles W. Herbster vacillated on the presence of only one person at the January 5 pre-insurrection war council at the Trump International Hotel: Rudy Giuliani.

After first writing on Facebook that he (Herbster) was “standing in the White House”, Herbster edited his post to write that he was in fact in Trump’s “private residence” in Trump International. But he also edited out Giuliani’s name, as if he’d either (a) been mistaken about Giuliani being at Trump International, or (b) suddenly felt it critical to not say that Giuliani was with him. Note that Herbster took this view of no one else at Trump International; as Proof has detailed, David Bossie and Michael Flynn both now maintain they weren’t at Trump International, and yet Herbster still hasn’t changed his contradictory statement on the matter. For a time even Tuberville contradicted Herbster and said he wasn’t at Trump International, and yet, despite Tuberville being a senator, Herbster still didn’t amend his statement on Facebook. Yet as to Giuliani Herbster did correct himself, suggesting a possibility Giuliani really was at a different location than the other individuals Herbster mentioned—but nevertheless attended the meeting Herbster described. Proof previously noted that this would be possible if the January 5 meeting at Trump International was “conferenced” with other locations.

(2) When the Associated Press asked Rudy Giuliani if he was at Trump International Hotel on January 6, Giuliani told the AP that he would have to check, via his “diary.”

Giuliani never got back to the AP, despite there being no known illegality—as yet—with respect to the event at Trump International. So why not tell the AP where he was on January 5? Doyle Beck told the AP Giuliani was at Trump International; it’s unclear why the conversation regarding his whereabouts isn’t one Giuliani is willing to have.

(3) On January 5, Flynn gave a long interview with Alex Jones at the Willard Hotel.

Both Stone and Giuliani were staying at the Willard Hotel, and Alex Jones and his team would have had to reserve a room at the Willard for any live recording there, so this creates numerous opportunities for overlap between Jones, Stone, Flynn, and Giuliani—the last of whom was then running an on-site Trump war room. Note that, as previously reported at Proof, Michael Lindell has said he was consistently with Flynn and Giuliani in the days prior to the insurrection. If Herbster is unclear and Giuliani cagey about whether Giuliani was ever at Trump International on January 5; and Flynn maintains he wasn’t at any meeting at Trump International (despite an Instagram photo placing him in the hotel lobby that day), one possibility is that any war room meeting(s) Flynn attended on January 5 were attended from the Willard, where we now know he was with Jones on January 5. Flynn is so adamant he wasn’t at Trump International on January 5 that he had his attorney send this author a letter threatening legal action for citing news reports placing him at that location on that day; this suggests a degree of confidence that no one can place him inside the Trump Townhouse at Trump International, his presence in the hotel lobby notwithstanding.

(4) As Proof has reported, Corey Lewandowski was also cagey about his location on January 5, telling a reporter for The Atlantic that he “met” with Donald Trump on that day—but also implying that he didn’t go to the White House in order to do so.

How could Lewandowski meet with Trump without being in the same space? Again, the specter of a very simple explanation—the use of phone or video conferencing—manifests. This might also explain the confidence that David Bossie, Lewandowski’s business associate, has had in maintaining he never entered Trump International on January 5, even as Herbster places him at an event Herbster attended from the hotel.

What Happened at the Willard Hotel

Eastman describes the “suite” of offices at the Willard—a term that suggests multiple rooms and work stations—as designed for “coordinating all of the [pre-insurrection] communication[s]” between members of Team Trump. Certainly, the suite could have coordinated communications via phone conferencing rather than video conferencing, but in either case it would seem that to “coordinate” communications between a large team of people at least some conferencing would have to have occurred at some point.

So if Giuliani had a “war room” at the Willard on January 5 that was specifically set up to “coordinate communications” pre-insurrection, why on earth would he need to walk over to Trump International to attend a second war room? Why not just conference the rooms? This question begs another: if Giuliani did decide to needlessly travel from one war room to another on January 5—during a period of hours that time was precious to Team Trump—why didn’t he bring Eastman with him? Indeed, an unresolved paradox is that Eastman appears to place himself with Giuliani fairly consistently during the days before the insurrection, yet no one places Eastman at Trump International Hotel.

A similar paradox involves Giuliani, Flynn, Lindell, and Powell. As Proof has reported, Lindell says he was with Giuliani, Flynn, and Powell on January 5, yet Flynn says he wasn’t at Trump International, Herbster at first wrote that Giuliani was there and then corrected himself, and no one places Powell at Trump International. Given that Powell was, like Eastman and Giuliani, a Trump legal adviser on January 5, one explanation for this would be that Flynn, Giuliani, and Powell were with Eastman at the Willard on January 5, whether or not they—or Lindellalso visited the Trump International war room.

More Bombshells From the Eastman-Boyles Interview

(1) Trump cybersecurity advisers Russell Ramsland Jr., Doug Frank, and Jim Penrose were with Eastman in the Willard Hotel war room at some point on January 5, 2021.

Specifically, Eastman told Boyles that “the [election] experts that I had met with [in November and December 2020, a group into which Eastman puts Ramsland, Frank, and Penrose] were with me on January 5.” Given this statement, it’s worthwhile to say a little more about two of these men.

Jim Penrose

According to The Hill, Penrose is “a former head of the National Security Agency’s Operational Discovery Center.”

Besides having run an operational center for the NSA—which sounds oddly similar to Eastman’s depiction of the Willard Hotel war room as having been a “communications coordination” center during the insurrection—one of Jim Penrose’s specializations, reportedly, is “how misinformation campaigns [can]…influence elections.” Does this mean that Trump had a misinformation operations expert running a secret war room during the January 6 insurrection? That’s a question the FBI will now need to answer.

Russell (“Russ”) Ramsland Jr.

Russ Ramsland co-founded Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG), a Dallas-area cybersecurity firm, with a number of men, among whom was Adam Kraft, a former DIA employee of Michael Flynn. Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to Trump after the 2020 election, has referred to ASOG as “our [Trump’s] team” on Fox News Channel.

The Washington Post writes that in 2018 ASOG began pitching GOP candidates on schemes to challenge their election losses by claiming election fraud. Per the Post,

By late 2019, ASOG’s examination [of elections in which Republicans had lost] had moved beyond audit logs. Among other claims, Ramsland was repeating the ominous idea that election software used in the United States originated in Venezuela, and saying nefarious actors could surreptitiously manipulate votes on a massive scale. As the 2020 election approached, he privately briefed GOP lawmakers in Washington and met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, documents and interviews show. ASOG’s examination [of elections] by last summer [the summer of 2020] had already cost more than $1 million, according to a document the company gave government officials that was obtained by the Post. Ramsland had sought funding from Republican donors whose fortunes were made in the oil, gas and fracking industries.

There’s more of interest here than can be unpacked in one article. For instance, Stop the Steal’s Ali Alexander is believed to have contacted a DHS number to join a 90-minute conference call on December 21, 2020, the same day Trump met in the Oval Office with a delegation from the House Freedom Caucus led by Rep. Gosar (R-AZ), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA). Of the call to DHS, Alexander wrote on Twitter that he hoped it would “change the world”, raising the question of who at DHS could have been in contact with Alexander, and whether they were also in touch with Ramsland as he worked with Trump’s legal team. {Note: While I’ve confirmed that Alexander called a “DHS” number, it remains unclear whether it’s a “Department of Homeland Security” call-in number or a D.C. “Department of Human Services” number; in the latter case, the call may have been about January 6 permitting, though it’s unclear why this would “change the world.”}

Trump’s 2019 and 2020 efforts to steal the election—detailed in Proof of Corruption—were linked to, among others, Texas Republican donors whose fortunes were made in the oil, gas, and fracking industries, an echo of the phrase used to describe Ramsland’s donors and investors. Were any of the individuals who met in Texas in 2019 with Rudy Giuliani, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and Florida-based Trump donor Harry Sargeant III to discuss the 2020 election, energy issues, and pro-Kremlin Ukrainian oligarchs who allegedly had dirt on Joe Biden involved in funding Ramsland’s dubious pre- and post-election “election integrity” efforts? Republican donors who made their fortunes in the oil, gas, and fracking industries were also, as Proof of Corruption details, involved in Trump’s clandestine outreach to Venezuela in 2019 and 2020—Venezuela being the nation in which the Post says Ramsland’s donors were hoping he’d look for and find political dissidents to reveal a supposed election-theft scheme originating in Caracas.

The Post notes that Ramsland’s lies “were circulated by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), a staunch Trump ally who had been briefed by ASOG. And Ramsland’s assertions were incorporated in the ‘kraken’ lawsuits filed by conservative lawyer Sidney Powell—who the Post has learned had also been briefed two years earlier by ASOG—and aired publicly by Rudy Giuliani, then Trump’s personal attorney, as they tried to overturn Joe Biden’s victories in key states.” Rep. Gohmert attended the December 21 pre-insurrection meeting at the White House, intended as a follow-up to the raucous December 18 Oval Office meeting attended by Giuliani and Powell. This underscores that, at a minimum, three individuals who Ramsland had worked with to spread false claims of election fraud were in the Oval Office with Trump during the 120 hours—December 17 to December 21—it appears the initial planning for the insurrection occurred. Indeed, the Post writes the following of November and December of 2020:

During that period, Trump was hyper-focused on making the case that the election had been rigged, former White House aides said. He would listen to “literally anyone” who had a theory about it, in the words of one former senior administration official.

The Post alleges that at least three such “anyones”—Gohmert, Powell, and Giuliani—were part of Ramsland’s “network” of collaborators. Per the Post, “ASOG provided research for Powell and Giuliani but…[Ramsland] never spoke[ ] to Trump himself.”

Whether or not Ramsland spoke with Trump pre-insurrection, the fact that he is, per the Post, a Cruz donor as well as a Trump donor; someone whose first client was an “associate of Steve Bannon”; co-founder of ASOG with a Flynn associate; and a man who successfully lobbied top Trump congressional ally Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) to use his services underscores that if he was in the Willard war room on January 5 the number of Trump associates who may have been there, nearby, or in contact with the war room is considerable.

Beyond the obvious figures, others written about at Proof but with less frequency may also be in the picture with respect to the Willard war room. The Post reports that one apparent investor in Ramsland’s efforts to spread election conspiracy theories prior to the 2020 election was Charles Richard Saulsbury, the fabulously wealthy Texan whose son Bubba Saulsbury was with Mike Pence at the vice presidential mansion on the night of January 5, as exclusively reported by Proof. If a Ramsland investor was with Pence while Ramsland was at the Willard, is it possible that any phone- or video-conferenced strategy session that evening involved not just the Trump International and Willard Hotel war rooms but both the White House and vice president’s mansion? We can’t, at present, know this. But we do know that Bubba Saulsbury—who’d come to D.C. thrilled about marching to the Capitol—saw or heard something on the evening of January 5, while with Pence, that caused him to flee Washington the next morning to avoid all of the events of January 6. What had Bubba Saulsbury heard, and from whom?

{Note: Saulsbury’s Facebook photos indicate he was staying at Trump International Hotel.}

The Post reports that, during the time Ramsland may have been receiving investments from the Saulsburys—in 2019 and beyond—everything he did “became about getting to Trump. He had this idea [that] it [his plan to challenge elections Republicans had lost] had to get to Trump.” This doesn’t sound like a man who would have sat at the Willard on January 5 without making any attempt to get in touch with the president.

Indeed, the Post reports that “In July 2020, ASOG gave a two-hour briefing to seven members of the House Freedom Caucus”—possibly the same seven Freedom Caucus members who five months later would be in the Oval Office discussing an allegedly stolen election with Trump: Gosar, Brooks, Biggs, Gohmert, Gaetz, Greene, and Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA). Certainly, Trump was well aware of Ramsland by mid-November of 2020, with the Post reporting that “late on November 15, Trump retweeted to his millions of followers a video clip of Ramsland saying in a pre-election interview that votes from twenty-nine states were routed through ‘a server in Frankfurt, Germany’ and that [Spanish election systems company] Scytl ‘controls and reports your vote.’”

But Ramsland’s connections to key insurrectionists go well beyond these, to include ex-Trump legal adviser Lin Wood and Giuliani cybersecurity adviser Phil Waldron. The Post writes that “Ramsland contributed material to [Sidney] Powell’s lawsuits and to one brought by L. Lin Wood Jr., another pro-Trump lawyer, seeking to overturn Biden’s victory”, and also that “Phil Waldron, a retired Army colonel who specialized in psychological operations and is now chief executive of a cybersecurity firm…said he was working with ASOG to examine the 2020 election.”

Even former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, a participant in the unprecedentedly wild December 18 meeting at the White House, is tied to Ramsland. Per the Post, “By December [2020], Ramsland was opening doors for people seeking to challenge the election results. He connected Patrick Byrne, the billionaire former CEO of the online retailer Overstock, with Powell, and Powell connected Byrne with Giuliani.”

So if Eastman was with Ramsland in the second Trump war room on Insurrection Eve, did Ramsland’s associates Ellis, Gohmert, Byrne, Bannon, Wood, Powell, Saulsbury, Sessions, Waldron, Giuliani, or Flynn join them there at any point on January 5 or 6?

(2) Eastman was in the Oval Office on January 4 in a previously unreported meeting.

According to the ex-law professor, on January 4 three people met in the Oval Office with him and Donald Trump: Pence, Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short, and Pence’s general counsel Greg Jacob. Per Eastman, prior to the meeting someone had advised Trump that “law review articles” written about the 2000 election indicated that “maybe the Vice President had unilateral authority to determine the validity of electoral votes.” Presumably it was not Eastman who provided such erroneous counsel to Trump, as Eastman says that during his meeting with Trump and Pence, Pence asked Eastman if he believed vice presidents had the authority that Trump had been advised they had, and Eastman purportedly told Pence it was an “open question.” But per Eastman, he nevertheless told Pence it would be “foolish” to accept the alternate slates of electors the Trump campaign had had sent to D.C., as none had been certified by any state legislature. Eastman says he advised Pence to “delay the proceedings [in Congress]” in “response to the [GOP] state legislatures” that wanted time to “audit” their votes.

This meeting corroborates prior Proof reporting on Trump’s plan for January 6, which was not to win re-election—an impossibility—but simply to allow for so much chaos on Capitol Hill that Congress’ joint session would have to be postponed, giving GOP-led batlleground-state legislatures time to decertify their electors. As Eastman advised Pence and Trump on January 4, under such a scenario GOP-led state legislatures could try to certify new slates of Trump electors, arguably putting Pence in a novel situation the second time Congress met to certify Biden’s victory. Many of the voter suppression bills the GOP is now pushing across America are “insurrectionist” in just this way; they aim to realize the vision of our democracy that Eastman shared with Trump and Pence on January 4—one in which state legislatures decide elections, not U.S. voters.

Conclusion

The Willard war room seems to have been focused on “coordinating communications” to ensure sufficient delay in the joint session of Congress that a coup of the incoming Biden administration would be possible through the creation of new slates of certified electors. While we know that the Willard war room hosted an advisory corps focused on the administrative components of this plot, the evidence also suggests that present in this second war room may have been individuals like Stone, Jones, Alexander, Flynn, Stockton, Lawrence, and Shroyer, who lacked the qualifications to have any role in any such administrative component—but would have been of great utility in orchestrating a paramilitary component to Trump’s plan to delay the certification of Biden’s victory.

At the nexus of these two parts of Trump’s apparent coup plan was Giuliani, whose ties to both of the two teams that appear to have used the Willard were considerable. Notably, it was Giuliani who said at the Ellipse, “Let’s have trial by combat!”—a line equally relevant to the administrative components of such a plot or paramilitary ones.

A robust investigation of the Willard Hotel “war room” has only just begun. Its size, technological capacities, traffic, purpose, and full roster of attendees remain an open question. This article therefore serves as only the first of a series of articles about this critical development in the story of the January 6 insurrection. More is forthcoming.