The Fingerprints of Top Trump Adviser Roger Stone Are All Over the January 6 Insurrection

Stone says he wasn't involved, but the evidence suggests he's lying—yet again.

{Note: throughout this essay, the words of Trump allies Roger Stone, Ali Alexander, Alex Jones, Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, and Mo Brooks are published in bolded text. The essay’s first reference to any proper name, organization, or event title is likewise bolded for clarity.}

Roger Stone’s fingerprints are all over the January 6 insurrection.

And the fact that no Trump friend, ally, or adviser granted clemency by the former president was more attentively aided by him—Trump first commuted Stone’s 40-month prison sentence in July 2020, then later pardoned him—raises the question of whether Trump needed Stone both out of prison and beholden to him as part of the president’s own plans: specifically, a scheme to overturn the November 2020 election.

The evidence that has emerged since January 6—discussed at length here, and fully sourced via major-media investigative reporting—suggests that’s just what happened.

Trump would have known in advance of his commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence in July 2020 exactly what Stone would start doing thereafter, as Stone had coined the phrase “Stop the Steal” in the lead-up to the 2016 election, declaring at the time that “If this election is close, THEY WILL STEAL IT” (emphasis in original, both here and in every all-caps quotation that appears hereafter). Stone’s 2016 “Stop the Steal” effort was a massive fundraising scam that would see its echo in Trump’s 2020 post-election Save America PAC, an “election defense” fund that raised hundreds of millions of dollars via hundreds of November and December emails to frustrated Trump voters.

While we don’t know where the money Stone needlessly raised in 2016 went, we do know that virtually none of the hundreds of millions raised by Trump in 2020 via his Save America PAC went to election defense. The most recent assessment puts the percentage of the money raised that went to Trump lawsuits at under 10%. The rest went to either the RNC or, to a far greater degree, a political fund that Trump can now draw from in the future for almost any purpose, including domestic and international travel self-declared by the man himself as being for “political” purposes.

Roger Stone’s “Stop the Steal” tagline was picked up, during Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, by a man he describes as a “good friend”, far-right activist Ali Alexander. Stone, at the time, was under the scrutiny of the federal justice system and was constricted in his political activities. Beginning in midsummer 2020, however—just in time for the start of the 2020 general election—Stone was unleashed, thanks to Trump, thereafter conjoining his efforts with Alexander’s even as the latter bolstered his ties with a group with which Roger Stone has been associated: the Proud Boys, a far-right neofascist “club” for men. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has gone so far as to call the infamous white supremacist organization “affiliated with” Roger Stone, and vice versa. This is significant, given that blaze orange-hatted Proud Boys were, per the Wall Street Journal, at the forefront of the breach of the Capitol on January 6.

Even now, weeks after Trump’s would-be “self-coup” failed, there remains a great deal of confusion about the various rallies that Trumpist insurrectionists attended on both January 5 and January 6. So far, this has worked to the benefit of the coup plotters. Indeed, it remains possible that some of this confusion was deliberate, as the various attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, every one of them coordinated by top Trump advisers, were so cross-pollinated that—much like the tangled web of legal arrangements (involving Rudy Giuliani, Joe diGenova, Victoria Toensing, Marc Kasowitz, Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, and others) that Trump himself constructed with various attorneys and foreign agents during the Ukraine scandal—they appear to be devised to frustrate their future investigation by federal law enforcement officers.

On the evening of January 5, just 18 hours before the insurrection, top Trump allies like Stone, Alexander, George Papadopoulos, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), Georgia state representative (and Trump surrogate) Vernon Jones, pastor (and Trump surrogate) Mark Burns, the brother of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (Joseph Flynn), and the women behind both Women for Trump and Latinos for Trump spoke at the Rally to Save America at the Freedom Plaza in DC.

The rally conveniently shared a name—“Save America”—with Trump’s own PAC.

The event at which Trump himself spoke on January 6 (alongside Giuliani, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Lara Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle, Rep. Madison Cawthorn, Rep. Mo Brooks, and disgraced law professor John Eastman, among others) was called the March to Save America, again echoing the name of Trump’s now-infamous post-election fundraising scam. But because both events were also dubbed Stop the Steal events—as they’d been funded by the Stop the Steal movement coordinated by Stone and Alexander—news-watchers following post-insurrection news will often see both the January 5 event at Freedom Plaza and the January 6 event at the Ellipse near the White House described as the Stop the Steal Rally.

Conspiracy theorist and Trump ally Alex Jones has confirmed that (a) he was a “Stop the Steal” coordinator along with Stone and Alexander, and (b) that his—and Stone’s and Alexander’s—Stop the Steal operation funded the January 6 event at the Ellipse. This confirms that the latter event was a Stop the Steal rally as well as, nominally, the “March to Save America.”

As if this weren’t confusing enough, former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn helped coordinate the so-called Jericho March on January 6, which was scheduled to coincide with Trump’s Stop the Steal/March to Save America event, making it unclear where one event started and the other ended. And just to make things even more confusing, the Jericho March was a two-day event—meaning that it also coincided with Stone, Alexander, and Jones’ January 5 Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America. (Note: Don’t feel bad if you find all this nomenclature confusing: it was, again, apparently intended to be so.)

In short, the January 5-6 Jericho March, January 5 Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America event, and the January 6 Stop the Steal/March to Save America event were a single 24-hour “happening” coordinated by all of Trump’s top allies: besides Stone, Alexander, Jones, and Flynn, Giuliani, an event-planning company (Event Strategies) for which Paul Manafort served as a top executive, and Steve Bannon, who following the 2020 election returned to his prior role as a top Trump adviser. The roster of those speaking at one or more of these three entangled events correspondingly included everyone else at the center of Trumpworld: Donald Trump, his two eldest sons and their significant others, three of Trump’s top Congressional allies (Brooks, Cawthorn, and Boebert), a host of Trump surrogates (including pastor Mark Burns and Georgia representative Vernon Jones), and a number of top donors and campaign boosters.

Indeed, it could accurately be said that from noon January 5 through noon of January 6 Trump’s top lieutenants and allies orchestrated for him the largest and most complex pro-Trump spectacle in the over five years of Trump’s ignominious political career.

In speaking at the January 5 Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America, Roger Stone said the following to the assembled crowd:

  • “God will never desert you! God will never abandon his people! God will deliver you from your persecutors!”

  • “I thank God for giving the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln [Donald Trump], the wisdom, the courage, the strength to correct this injustice [the alleged theft of the 2020 election].”

  • “The same people who tried to initiate the Russian collusion hoax—the Russian collusion delusion—those are the same people who tried the Ukrainian hoax. And then they sought to profit from the fallout from COVID-19. And now they seek nothing less than the HEIST of the 2020 election. And we say, NO WAY!”

  • “The evidence of voter fraud in this election is not non-existent. In fact, it’s growing, it’s overwhelming, and it’s compelling to anyone who will open their eyes.”

  • “What we’ve been subjected to here [by the Democrats] is a very sophisticated psy-op [psychological operation or disinformation campaign].”

  • “There is no question whatsoever that he [Trump] won a majority of the legal votes cast [in the 2020 election].”

  • “This is not an election between Republicans and Democrats. This is not a fight between liberals and conservatives. This is nothing less than an epic struggle for the future of this country between Dark and Light, between the godly and the godless, between Good and Evil. And we will win this fight—or America will step off into a thousand years of darkness. We dare not fail!”

  • “I will be with you tomorrow [January 6], shoulder-to-shoulder!”

  • “My thanks to my good friend Ali Alexander—who has revived the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement—[and] so many others who did a good job putting together these terrific events.”

  • “We will not let him [Donald Trump] down, and he will not let America down!”

While Stone would later claim that on January 5 he called for a “peaceful” action on January 6, he did no such thing—no such words were ever uttered by him, as video of his speech confirms.

Indeed, Stone did the opposite: he falsely framed the Stop the Steal effort as a Holy War, falsely framed it as a disinformation war being waged against Trump voters by Democrats on Capitol Hill, and spread (not shyly, but shouting at the top of his lungs) what is now known as “The Big Lie”: the notion that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 presidential election. Moreover, he used rhetoric that would be echoed the next day by his patron Donald Trump, as well as other speakers at the January 6 Stop the Steal/March to Save America event: the idea that the true election day in America was January 6, 2021—not November 3, 2020.

This latter component of The Big Lie not only gave Trump supporters false hope but emboldened them to feel like they could “win” the election for Trump on January 6 if they simply “fought”—a word constantly thrown at them by Trump and his allies—and showed “courage” (likewise a repeated exhortation from Trump’s political team). Stone told his rapturous audience, on January 5, that if they didn’t “win” the “epic struggle” that was coming on January 6, they would be “letting Trump down”—the one thing he knew the mob assembled before him would never allow itself to do.

That Stone feels he must now lie and say he urged the January 6 rally to be “peaceful”; that he felt he had to lie on January 5 and falsely say that he would be marching with the insurrectionists the following day, when he had no plans to; that he accidentally conceded that the same team had put together all of the “events” (plural) that would be taking place on January 5 and January 6 in DC—reveals his consciousness of guilt not only for having incited insurrection during his January 5 speech, but having been part of the seditious planning for the “events” of that 24-hour period in American history.

But it gets worse.

Roger Stone is not, as America knows from long experience, a cautious and meticulous criminal. He’s a sloppy one. Part of his problem—and I say this as a former criminal investigator and public defender who occasionally represented criminal defendants with this particular malady—is that he’s given to braggadocio. He can’t resist telling the world what he’s done, especially when he’s under the assumption, as he was in the days immediately following the January 6 insurrection, that his patron Donald Trump would continue to defend him from consequences for his actions.

And so it was that Stone gave what may be one of the most ill-advised interviews in American political history shortly after the insurrection he supported and encouraged had failed. In a televised discussion with Steve Malzberg of Eat the Press, Stone falsely claimed—despite knowing that video contradicting him was publicly available—that at the January 5 Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America event, which he had attended flanked by militiamen (see photo atop this essay), he “advocated…‘peaceful protest.’”

But Stone’s most foolhardy confession came next: “I was invited to lead a [January 6] march to the Capitol”, Stone tells Malzberg, but “I declined.”

Those words may come to haunt Stone for years to come, as they echo a statement by Jones—Stone and Alexander’s partner in the Stop the Steal movement—that federal law enforcement will certainly be looking at in the days, weeks, and months to come.

On January 5, Jones had spoken at the Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America alongside Stone. As reported by PBS, among Jones’ choice quotes from his incitement to insurrection during that rally were the following:

  • “I’ll tell you who I’m excited to see [here in DC]! You, the people, united in resistance to the New World Order!”

  • “We have only begun to resist the globalists. We have only begun our fight against their tyranny. They’ve tried to steal this election in front of everyone.”

  • “I don’t know how all this is going to end, but if they want to fight, they better believe they’ve got one!”

Jones had been introduced, prior to his brief speech, as “the genesis of this second American Revolution”, a movement that—per Owen Shroyer, the InfoWars host who introduced him—“tomorrow will turn into millions of Americans in the streets of Washington, DC to TAKE OUR REPUBLIC BACK!” (Note: InfoWars is Jones’ long-running far-right conspiracy-theory and fake-news website; it was launched in March of 1999.)

There is no evidence that Jones advocated “peaceful” protest on January 5. On January 6, per PBS, Jones “ril[ed the] crowd again” by declaring an active combat theater: “We declare 1776 against the New World Order….We need to understand we’re under attack. We need to understand this is 21st-century warfare and get on a war footing.”

On January 6, Jones selected one brief moment to use the word “peaceful,” presumably hoping (though it contradicted everything else he’d said on the matter for weeks and even months) that he could use it in his own defense at a future trial for incitement. Much like Trump—who in his 75-minute January 6 speech that incited an insurrection read the word “peacefully” off a teleprompter a single time and now intends to use that scripted one-off as his defense at his second impeachment trial—PBS reports that Jones at one point tells the armed mob on January 6, “We’re here to take our rightful country back peacefully, because we’re not globalist, antifa criminals.” Precisely how an armed mob would “take its country back” by marching to the Capitol “peacefully” was left unsaid, as there appears to have been no expectation by Jones, or for that by matter Alexander or Stone or Trump, that such a thing could be done without (at a minimum) breaching and occupying the Capitol building itself, a feat that could not be accomplished without overcoming the building’s defenders by force.

What Jones didn’t reveal to anyone on January 5, or January 6, was the most important thing of all: that his involvement in the “21st-century warfare” he said the armed mob was bringing to the U.S. Capitol was solicited.

Because Jones, like Stone, can’t resist bragging about his exploits even when they’re arguably criminal ones, he recorded a video shortly after the insurrection in which he said the following:

“When I tell you this, it’s not to brag about to my connection to this embattled president, because that—in the modern world—is a millstone around my neck. So you understand what happen[ed]: no one would book the Ellipse, no one would book the other areas [events were to happen in]. No one would pay for it. We [the Stop the Steal movement] went and paid for it. Thank God a donor came in that paid for like 80% of it, because it cost close to half a million dollars….and then the White House told me three days before, ‘We’re going to have you lead the march. The Secret Service, before Trump finishes—thirty minutes before—will lead you to a point, take you out of the front row [of the Stop the Steal/March to Save America event], and lead you to the place where they want you to start the march [on the Capitol]. And Trump will tell people, “Go, and I’m going to meet you at the Capitol.”’ There was a million people outside of the Ellipse—metal detectors, folks coming in—so by the time I got out there, twenty minutes [or] thirty minutes before Trump finishes his speech, there were already hundreds of thousands of people ahead of me marching.”

There’s a great deal to unpack here, but the first thing to note is that we would not normally trust claims made by the conspiracy theorist Jones on—well—any matter.

In this case, however, circumstances are slightly different, for several reasons:

  • Jones knows he will be interrogated by the FBI about his role in the January 6 march on the Capitol, as he had filmed or been filmed throughout the entirety of his participation in it, so he would have known that anything he said publicly about his role would need to be consistent with what he would later tell federal law enforcement under penalty of arrest for the federal crime of Making False Statements.

  • His statement about his role in the January 6 insurrection was a “statement against interest”—the sort of statement generally considered reliable by courts under a limited exception to the hearsay rule—because while he attempts to exculpate himself from being in the advance team of the march of the Capitol, he does reveal himself to have been part of a conspiracy with the White House to stage the logistics of the event. This latter confession is so much more damaging to Jones’ legal interests than his attempted self-exculpation— that is, it so manifestly brings him deeper into the federal investigation over the most significant act of domestic terrorism in the U.S. since the Civil War—that it’s impossible to hear it as merely another “tall tale” from a conspiracy theorist.

  • What Jones is saying here is actually corroborated by what others are saying.

Jones’ claim that he was invited by the White House to lead the march on the Capitol echoes his Stop the Steal partner Roger Stone’s claim that he was “invited”—by an unnamed party—to “lead” the January 6 march. Jones’ and Stone’s Stop the Steal partner Ali Alexander told a interviewer on January 12, in a since-deleted YouTube video, that he had “private” information about Donald Trump’s secret phone calls to Arizona GOP officials seeking the overturning of the November election, further corroborating the idea that Jones and his Stop the Steal team had special access to the White House. Indeed, in a now-infamous YouTube “self-own”, Alexander is seen admitting via livestream:

“I was the person who came up with the January 6 idea with Congressman [Paul] Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks, and then Congressman Andy Biggs. We four schemed up putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting, so that [those members of Congress] we couldn’t lobby [successfully] we could change the hearts of—Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud war from outside.”

Alexander has in fact confessed publicly in three different livestreams. In another such confession Roger Stone’s “good friend” says, “I’m the guy who came up with the idea of January 6, when I was talking with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks, and Congressman Andy Biggs.” He later added, “We [Stop the Steal] are working with members of Congress.” For his part, Mo Brooks has conceded that he was directly in touch with the White House, specifically Trump’s political director Brian Jack.

Not only did Brooks speak on a slate with Trump himself on January 6, but his co-conspirators Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs are top Trump allies—and missed the January 6 Stop the Steal/March to Save America event only because at that moment they were inside the Capitol contesting Arizona’s electoral votes on Trump’s behalf. (Note: Because states’ electors are read out alphabetically, the two men knew they’d be needed in the Capitol too soon after Trump’s speech to be both at the Ellipse and inside the Capitol.)

Alexander has called Paul Gosar “the spirit animal” of the Stop the Steal movement, and Andy Biggs a “hero” of the movement. In a video played by Alexander at a December 2020 rally, Biggs refers to Mo Brooks as his “friend” and an ally in the fight against the certification of Biden’s win. At the same rally, Gosar appears in person to promise that he and the Stop the Steal movement will “conquer [Capitol] Hill”, with the result that Trump will be “returned as president…for four more years.”

So the idea of at least two of the three non-Congressional Stop the Steal organizers receiving a march invitation directly from the White House is consistent with all we know about the men and their “movement.”

But Jones’ words bear even closer examination. In his post-insurrection statement, Jones does all of the following:

  • Frames his narrative as establishing his “connection to” Trump himself, not merely the White House broadly writ, suggesting either that Jones spoke to the president or that he was told the message he was receiving had come directly from the president;

  • confesses that Stop the Steal not only funded the January 6 Stop the Steal/March to Save America but also the January 5 Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America—and possibly even the January 5 Jericho March and January 6 Jericho March—as he refers to not just the “Ellipse” (the Stop the Steal/March to Save America event site) but also “the other areas” used by the insurrectionists pre-insurrection as having been paid for by his, Stone’s, and Alexander’s Stop the Steal movement;

  • acknowledges that an unnamed “donor” paid almost $400,000 to fund the events in the “Ellipse” and “other areas,” with major-media reporting now suggesting that this money may have come from a foreign source (see here, here, and here);

  • claims that his White House contact was someone who (a) could direct the Secret Service, (b) put him in the VIP section of Trump’s January 6 event, and (c) knew in advance not only what Trump would say at his rally, and when precisely he would be speaking relative to the events at the Capitol, but where the president’s team would be moving him during the march thereafter. These concurrent claims suggest a vanishingly small group of people that Jones could have been speaking to, indeed a group limited, essentially, to Trump himself, Giuliani, Don Jr., Stone, Bannon, Flynn, or Trump political director Brian Jack. (Note: arguably, other potential additions to this list include the former/current Trump associates on this list.)

If you look at the list of individuals in this last bullet-point, it is telling that three among them—Stone, Bannon, and Flynn—received Trump pardons, while another (Donald Trump Jr.) refused a pardon. Trump was, as we now know, told by White House attorneys that a self-pardon would be invalidated and all but assure his future prosecution post-presidency (as a future indictment would be the only way to test a clearly illegal self-pardon in federal court). The only apparent plotter not covered by a pardon—or some explanation for a non-pardon—was Giuliani, yet of course Trump would not have thought he needed to pardon Giuliani because the latter enjoys attorney-client privilege with him (albeit a privilege that can be “pierced” through the so-called “crime-fraud exception”). Moreover, we now know that Trump was in a running dispute with Giuliani at the time he was handing out pardons. The Guardian describes Trump and Giuliani as having had a “falling out” during the period that the outgoing president was doling out clemency to, among others, his top co-conspirators.

Jones, Stone, and Alexander’s claims are perhaps most robustly corroborated, however, by Steve Bannon, who we know from ABC News was directly advising the president during the post-election period and who was the first (even before Jones, Stone, and Alexander) to launch the post-election “Stop the Steal” movement—doing so on Facebook in the week immediately after Election Day.

Given that Jones, Stone, and Alexander were involved not only with Trump allies Brooks, Gosar, and Biggs—at least one of whom, Brooks, concedes that he was in direct contact with the White House—but also with Steve Bannon, who we know was in regular contact with the president himself, and thereafter received a pardon from Trump that attorneys in the White House advised against, it seems entirely possible that Jones, Stone, and Alexander were getting their communications from Bannon.

Moreover, Trump’s extraordinary pardon of Bannon—opposed by his legal advisers— suggests a desire to keep his 2016 campaign CEO loyal during the inevitable federal investigation of the January 6 insurrection.

But it gets worse.

Roger Stone is “affiliated” with the Proud Boys, and has used them as bodyguards. Ali Alexander, an Arizonan, was seen in a January 5 video wearing the same blaze-orange knit cap that the Arizona Proud Boys wore as they led the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Alex Jones associate Mike Cernovich has hosted events featuring the Proud Boys. Trump famously told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” in a fall 2020 presidential debate against Joe Biden—a line the organization immediately adopted as a rallying cry. In short, there is good reason to wonder what Jones, Stone, and Alexander knew about the Proud Boys’ January 6 plans.

It’s in light of this possible knowledge that federal investigators will wonder at the synchronicity of four events:

  1. While he was caught on video on January 5 leading a chant of “Victory or death!” at the Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America event at Freedom Plaza in DC—and filmed a video of himself watching the breach of the Capitol grounds on January 6 while saying, “I don’t disavow this, I don’t denounce this”—Ali Alexander did not enter the Capitol during the January 6 march, and indeed in his January 6 video is perhaps a mile away from the building itself.

  2. Roger Stone told the marchers that he would participate in the January 6 march, but then did not. He was invited to lead the march, but he declined.

  3. Alex Jones was invited to lead the January 6 march but somehow ended up at the back end of the crowd. He left the march the moment it become violent, and never breached the Capitol.

  4. Donald Trump told the marchers he would participate in the January 6 march, but did not. He told Alex Jones he would lead the march, but he never appeared.

So how did these four men, who claim to have been in contact with one another and/or one another’s agents in the lead-up to the assault on the Capitol, all know that it was vital not to be too closely involved in the march on the Capitol itself? Why did they decide, nevertheless, that it was equally vital to make the marchers think matters would be otherwise? In short, what did these four men believe—perhaps based on their prior contacts with the Proud Boys—was going to happen at the Capitol on January 6?

It’s important to note here that Donald Trump’s pardons of Roger Stone and Steve Bannon do not cover the conduct discussed here. Alex Jones has never received a pardon from Trump, and is now locked into a narrative about the White House’s involvement in the January 6 insurrection that federal investigators will not let him escape. Trump has no further immunity from criminal prosecution now that he is out of the White House, and Ali Alexander is currently on the run from federal law enforcement officials; his present whereabouts are unknown.

Representatives Gosar, Biggs, and Brooks are under investigation for their role in the insurrection, with Brooks incredibly—post-January 6—implicitly endorsing violent insurrection, telling an interviewer that “In a republic, your principle form of redress of political grievances is at the ballot box. What are your options if you no longer have faith that the ballot box is a way to address grievances—because it is no longer honest or accurate?” Representative Lauren Boebert is under investigation for giving a “large” private tour at the Capitol on either January 4 or January 5, the latter the very day she addressed the Stop the Steal/Rally to Save America crowd that included Proud Boys and their supporters. This raises the possibility that not only did Boebert declare January 6 “1776” on Twitter and reveal Nancy Pelosi’s location during the insurrection, but was also responsible for some of the insurrectionists having detailed knowledge of the layout of the building on January 6.

On February 9, 2021, nine House impeachment managers will tell Americans that Donald Trump incited insurrection during his January 6 speech at the Stop the Steal/March to Save America rally at the Ellipse outside the White House. That’s true. But the story they plan to tell risks dramatically understating the involvement of the president and his advisers in the events of that day, and the increasing likelihood that Trump—who major-media investigations report as being “pleased”, “a little bit happy” (from a CNN live on-air report), “excited”, “delighted”, and “borderline enthusiastic” as he watched the insurrection on television at the White House—had foreknowledge of what the Proud Boys, the Oathkeepers, the Three Percenters, the Stop the Stealers, and other far-right radicals had planned for January 6.

In short, it’s becoming clear that Trump and his team didn’t just incite an insurrection against the government of the United States—they planned it. Federal investigators and members of Congress must now move quickly to curate and collate the mountain of evidence of this for the American people.