More Revelations About Secretive January 5 War Council at Trump International Hotel
A few key questions have been resolved, but significant unsolved mysteries remain.
Reporting in the Omaha World-Herald, as well as social media screenshots and videos, confirm a January 5 pre-insurrection war council at DC’s Trump International Hotel. Also confirmed by the evidence is a list of the gathering’s (minimum) fifteen attendees.
The first Proof article on this subject can be found here.
The secretive January 5 meeting—which one attendee, Senator Tommy Tuberville, has already been caught lying about, and which another, Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster, has attempted to scrub his social media to conceal—included eight different components of Trump’s political machine:
Family members: Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle (current girlfriend of Trump Jr., and a former on-air Fox News personality).
Trump’s legal team: Rudy Giuliani.
United States senators: Tuberville and at least two other senators (see below).
Administration officials: Peter Navarro and Charles Herbster.
January 6 organizers: Ali Alexander, Adam Piper, and Michael Flynn.
Trump campaign officials: Corey Lewandowski (former), David Bossie (former).
Cyberintelligence specialists: Flynn (information operations) and possibly Phil Waldron (self-described—see more below—as skilled in “intelligence analysis”).
Trump donors: Mike Lindell, Daniel Beck, and Herbster.
Due to minimal ongoing coverage of this extraordinary pre-January 6 strategy meeting, questions about the Trump International Hotel gathering remain. This article outlines key questions and reveals the answers to several—all uncovered over the last 24 hours.
Question 1: How many senators attended Team Trump’s January 5 war council?
In his initial Facebook post, Herbster listed Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) first on his list of meeting attendees, making the addition unlikely to have been—it would seem—an error or fabrication. Herbster’s claim about Tuberville was later confirmed by a Facebook post by meeting attendee Daniel Beck and an Instagram photo of Tuberville at Trump International Hotel. Through a spokesperson, Tuberville denied being at the hotel on January 5.
There’s now evidence Herbster is attempting to doctor his Facebook feed to protect Tuberville. An edit history of the Nebraskan’s deleted-then-reposted confession about attending a January 5 pre-insurrection strategy session reveals that Herbster at one point sought to fraudulently place the meeting at the White House, a lie that would exculpate Tuberville from having deceived the Alabama Political Reporter about his whereabouts, but would inculpate then-President Trump himself as a near-certain meeting attendee. This may be why the edit was quickly abandoned, and Herbster’s post returned to its original condition—in which the top Trump adviser asserts that the January 5 meeting took place in the “private residence of the President at Trump International.” Here’s Herbster’s attempted edit of his social media confession:
Readers will note that the since-abandoned edit also includes Giuliani as a meeting attendee, perhaps as a way of explaining how the meeting could have occurred at the White House—as of the list of meeting attendees in the now-deleted edit, only Giuliani would have had an obvious basis for already being at the White House and convening a meeting there with or without the presence of the president. In any case, Herbster’s fleeting addition of Giuliani to his Facebook feed further confirms Daniel Beck’s claim that Giuliani indeed attended the January 5 war council, albeit (as we now know) at the Trump International Hotel in Washington rather than the White House.
Evidence has also emerged that the now-discredited “voting-fraud expert” Giuliani had tried to promote in the weeks leading up to the insurrection, Phil Waldron, was also at Trump International Hotel in DC on January 5, though we do not know if he attended Trump’s war council. This photograph from Instagram provides the proof:
That Waldron is seen above posing with a woman who during the same period of time posed with Tuberville at Trump International Hotel certainly increases the likelihood that Waldron, like Tuberville, attended the war council (as does Giuliani’s attendance):
Incredibly, Waldron’s LinkedIn profile lists him as a “forklift driver” and “floor sweeper” at One Shot Spirits, a brewery in Dripping Springs, Texas.
Late yesterday, news came to light offering another possible reason for Herbster’s attempt to move the meeting to the White House in this Facebook confession: the revelation that there were at least three U.S. senators in attendance, a circumstance that would cause a meeting at Trump’s private residence in Washington to seem even more suspicious. Per a video posted by Txtwire CEO Daniel Beck, “several” senators attended the January 5 meeting, rather than only Tuberville.
This new claim by Beck is significant in part because it clarifies his earlier claim that “fifteen” people attended the meeting. If by “several senators” Beck meant that there were three, that would bring the known attendance at the January 5 Trump war council to precisely fifteen, while also meeting the generally accepted definition of “several” as meaning “more than two.” Here’s the video from Beck:
There’s little utility in speculating about the identity of the other two (or, theoretically, more) senators at the January 5 war council, as at present even the one senator we know was present denies it—and still hasn’t had his feet held to the fire by major U.S. media.
We can, however, say this much: only a small roster of senators would have been there.
We know from the Omaha World Herald that the purpose of the January 5 meeting was to drum up support in Congress for challenging Joe Biden’s electors, which suggests that the members of the January 5 council were already supporters of such a challenge and intended, by congregating at Trump’s private residence at his Washington hotel, to strategize the augmentation of their camp. Only seven senators besides Tuberville objected to the certification of Biden’s electors 15 hours after the war council began:
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS)
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS)
Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY)
If Beck’s claim is accurate, at least two of these seven men and women attended Team Trump’s pre-insurrection strategy session. While speculation will undoubtedly run rampant that the two attendees were Hawley and Cruz—certainly the most persistent and militant senators on the matter of objecting to Biden’s November election victory, Tuberville excepted—for now we can only confirm the probable universe of candidates for these two meeting “slots,” while acknowledging that Beck’s count of the total number of meeting participants could well have been low (suggesting that three or even more figures on the list above may have been present at the January 5 war council).
Question 2: Why did Trump’s top advisers—and even some of the January 6 event organizers—flee the Capitol area before rioters had trespassed on Capitol grounds?
Federal investigators will surely be looking to determine whether any of the January 6 plotters exhibited “consciousness of guilt,” including any evidence of foreknowledge or early awareness that they’d incited an armed mob to trespass upon and assault the U.S. Capitol. One sign of such a consciousness of guilt would be the unwillingness of January 6 plotters to themselves march to the Capitol as they had incited others to do.
As discussed in my prior articles—see here, here, and here—we already know from major-media reporting that Donald Trump was told prior to his January 6 speech that the Secret Service would not allow him to march to the Capitol, yet he falsely told Stop the Steal organizer and far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones that he would do so and also, more importantly, falsely told the armed mob he was inciting that he would. In the event, he fled back to the White House with his family immediately upon the conclusion of his speech. We also know that Roger Stone was asked to lead the march but declined, and that Jones too was asked to walk at the head of the march but for unexplained reasons did not end up doing so, and indeed (while he trespassed on the Capitol grounds) never entered the building itself. Moreover, a video archive focused on the assault on the Capitol, compiled by ProPublica, indicates that Jones appeared to earnestly believe the president would be joining the march at the “front” of the Capitol and would “speak” to supporters from there, a possibility that (if imperfectly) exculpates him from believing his Capitol trespass was illegal, but also raises additional questions about the source of his information from the White House.
As for Stop the Steal coordinator and far-right activist Ali Alexander, a recently unearthed video shows him almost comically distant from the event he organized as it was unfolding. In the video, which is repeatedly punctuated by the sound of police sirens, Alexander points at the well-distant assault on the Capitol and declares, “I want to say something: I don’t disavow this, I don’t denounce this.” He says that the assault is “completely peaceful” (though he also adds, tellingly, the words “so far”) and only a “couple of agitators” in the mob have acted otherwise. In fact, the march—as its main coordinator would have known, had he participated in it—had by the time of his video turned extremely violent. This alone makes some of Alexander’s other comments, for instance his boast that this is “exactly what I warned about”, seem vile and churlish.
Alexander explicitly excuses the conduct of the insurrectionists, declaring that, due to the actions of his various adversaries across the U.S. government, “the people feel like this [storming the U.S. Capitol] is their last resort.”
A screenshot of a tweet containing the Ali Alexander video is below (note: click to open):
In the video, Alexander says he knows that the front of the Capitol is similarly mobbed with Trump supporters, raising questions about (a) what communications he was receiving from fellow insurrectionists in mid-coup attempt, and (b) whether he, like Jones, had been particularly told by parties inside the White House or connected to it to pay special attention to logistics at the front of the Capitol. It is already confirmed that Alexander had been in telephonic contact with Team Trump—via the January 5 war council—approximately 15 hours earlier.
What remains unclear is why Trump’s supporters were incited to march on the U.S. Capitol even as their leaders hung back. This raises a third question that will require an answer sooner rather than later.
Question 3: What ties did Team Trump have to the far-right organizations most responsible for breaching the Capitol, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers?
Vice has now confirmed that Trump adviser and Stop the Steal organizer Roger Stone used members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia as his personal security on the eve of the insurrection. Mere hours later, members of the Oath Keepers would, according to the Wall Street Journal, not only assault the U.S. Capitol but attempt to execute a plan that would “seal” the entirety of Congress in the “tunnels” below the Capitol and “gas” them to death.
As for the Proud Boys, the Daily Beast has called the far-right white supremacist “club” for men Trump pal Roger Stone’s “personal army” on the basis of Stone repeatedly taking pictures with members, endorsing them on social media, and using them for his personal protection detail at public events. The Wall Street Journal now confirms that the Proud Boys, along with the Oath Keepers, were “key instigators” in the January 6 insurrection. (Note: this fact was first reported by Proof, using a combination of articles by the Journal—which wrote of men in “blaze-orange hats” leading the first wave of Capitol attackers—and CNN, which reported and then erroneously retracted its reporting that the Proud Boys wore orange hats on January 6. That they had in fact done so was subsequently confirmed for CNN by Proof, using hours of documentary footage from the insurrection).
Proof has previously outlined Alexander’s connections to the Proud Boys, including his decision to wear one of the Proud Boys’ January 6-signature blaze-orange hats on January 5, with video revealing him doing so while leading a “Victory or death!” chant. In his preposterously off-site video from January 6, Alexander falsely says that “we the people” (including himself in the designation) “[have] completely peaceful” intentions.
Given Alexander and Stone’s ties to the organizations that led the insurrection, federal investigators will wonder how both men knew to be nowhere close to the attack on the Capitol as it happened—as their apparent foreknowledge of the violent actions pre-planned by the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers may eventually produce criminal liability for them for seditious conspiracy.
Question 4: What about Herbster? Did he too flee the march, as he publicly claimed?
The answer: “sort of.”
While Herbster didn’t participate in the march—for reasons that remain unclear, as he was present for the speech by Trump that immediately preceded it, and in theory would have believed Trump (unless he had private information to the contrary) when the then-president told the crowd that he himself would be marching to the Capitol—he did lie to media about where he went afterward, and the truth on that question is jaw-dropping.
While Herbster initially told media, through a spokesperson, that flew home to Nebraska after Trump’s speech, that was a lie. According to Omaha World Herald political reporter Aaron Sanderford, Herbster now admits that he didn’t go to Nebraska after Trump’s Stop the Steal/March to Save America event, he went to Florida—with “Trump’s family.”
It takes no investigative skills to deduce—or at least imagine—that Herbster might not have wanted media to know that, after being with the Trump family on the evening of January 5 to plot a strategy for January 6, he then spent January 6 (and perhaps some time thereafter) with the very family accused of inciting an insurrection on that day.
Herbster’s duplicity as to his actions after the Trump speech on January 6 compounds his duplicity about his January 5 meeting with the Trump family—as evidenced by his various Facebook deletions, edits, and re-postings—and the still-unresolved question about what information he had about the March to Save America that convinced him to stay far away from it.
Herbster’s close relationship with the Trumps has come into even clearer focus in the last 24 hours not just because of Sanderford’s Twitter revelation but a further review of Herbster’s social media presence, which sees him declaring on Twitter on election day in November 2020 that “I am at the White House with the Trump family and a small group of dignitaries eating a beautiful dinner and getting ready to watch a victory tonight!” His photos of his election-day socializing at the White House include these:
That Herbster would be “with the Trump family” in a “small group of dignitaries” on one of the most important days in the history of that family underscores that Herbster may have been privy to information from Team Trump—either via fellow attendees at the January 5 war council or further updates from Trump’s political team on January 6—that it would be unwise to attend the March to Save America Trump had falsely said he would lead (and that Stone had declined to lead, and Alexander declined to attend).
While Donald Trump’s own attendance at the January 5 war council remains unclear, and while Herbster’s social media feeds—at least at present, as we can’t know how much the Nebraska Republican has deleted or edited—do not routinely reveal him spending time socially with the president (albeit he is on multiple occasions pictured with him in photo ops), Herbster’s public-facing media content begs the implication that he is also close with the now-former president.
This not only raises, again, the question of Trump’s presence at the January 5 war council, but also the subsequent conduct of others besides Herbster who attended the meeting. One figure of particular interest is Mike Lindell, given that Lindell has since January 6 been banned from Twitter, visited Trump in the Oval Office and asked him to impose martial law to extend his presidency, been threatened with a lawsuit by a voting software company (Dominion) for spreading misinformation about it, and had his MyPillow products removed from several popular retailers.
Question 5: Why didn’t Trump pull the trigger on Lindell’s proposed “martial law plan,” or the Jeffrey Clark-orchestrated effort to take over the Department of Justice and invalidate Georgia’s November 2020 election results? Why not preemptively pardon the fifteen participants in the January 5 war council, before leaving office?
This bundle of questions remains largely unanswered, though one possible clue to the explanation for Trump’s intermittent reticence in the final days of his presidency—for which he has lost some of his most vocal far-right support—comes in the form of a Senate vote on a “constitutional point of order” taken just yesterday (January 26).
On January 26, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) raised such a point-of-order on the Senate floor, forcing the Senate to vote on whether it would hear and debate his objection to Trump’s second impeachment trial—an objection based on a fringe legal analysis of the Constitution that holds Congress can’t try former presidents post-impeachment, which analysis is rejected by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
That the “motion to table [debate]” on Paul’s fringe legal theory passed 55-45—with all but five Senate Republicans voting “no”—means that 45 GOP senators wanted to at least debate Paul’s premise, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has already called Trump’s conduct “impeachable.” Many media outlets have taken the vote on the motion to table as a proxy for the eventual post-trial vote in the Senate, arguing somewhat speciously that a vote to debate Paul’s premise equals agreement with it. While that’s not so, if Donald Trump believes, as some journalists do, that it is, this might explain several of the decisions he made in the final days of his presidency.
Now that he no longer has access to Twitter, and his YouTube and Facebook bans have been indefinitely extended, Trump faces the prospect of needing to return to politics to regain the daily media attention he craves and the power over others he covets. If he believes the Senate will never convict him of incitement to insurrection, he may commensurately believe that it cannot get the 60 votes needed to disqualify him from holding future office via Section 3 of the 14th Amendment rather than an impeachment trial. The only way for Trump to upset this state of affairs and run the risk of not being able to run for president again in 2024 would be if he confessed in some fashion that he and his team had directly coordinated with the January 6 plotters.
It’s for this reason that, despite the attendees at the January 5 war council now facing potential legal liability—even as they are among Trump’s top lieutenants, and so presumably deemed the most deserving of and eligible for late-presidency clemency—for Trump to have pardoned any of them, let alone executed the plan for martial law Mike Lindell and Michael Flynn proposed, would have risked revealing prior to the final Senate vote in his impeachment trial that he and his compatriots were in fact more intimately involved in the planning of the insurrection than Republican Party brass had previously believed (or, at a minimum, been forced to publicly acknowledge).
It’s for this reason that the information now being presented on this website is so critical: because if major media deigns to report on it only after Trump’s Senate trial has concluded, it will have implicitly provided cover to Congressional Republicans to treat Trump’s offenses as either glancing or a matter of “free speech.” Such claims could never be made about a seditious conspiracy headlined by a pre-insurrection war council Team Trump’s political superstructure attended—with the president himself possibly attending either in-person or via speakerphone.
And yet, if information about the January 5 war council doesn’t “break wide” before Trump’s impeachment trial starts on February 9—less than two weeks from now—a Trump candidacy in 2024 is all but assured. And given what we now know about Trump and his team’s virulent opposition to American democracy’s core processes, a Trump presidential run 48 months from now could imperil the country’s very survival.