Jan. 6 Hearing Recap: Trump Plans 'Unexpected' March On Capitol After Summoning Mob To DC
Yesterday's hearing of the January 6 Select Committee was intense. More than any of the six prior public hearings, the committee used its time to emphasize the ongoing danger to American democracy posed by a demagogue and the violent extremists who back him.
Spoiler Alert: We're in deep shit.
"This is not the problem of one party, it is the problem of the whole country now," Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin said in closing.
The hearing focused on the period between December 14, 2020, and January 6, 2021, highlighting Donald Trump's strategic switch from litigating Joe Biden's win at the state level to ratfucking the Electoral College certification on January 6, deploying a mob of goons to persuade Congress to overturn the election.
December 18: The Clown Car Rolls Into the Oval Office
The Trump White House leaked like a sieve, so almost immediately Axios got the details of that batshit day in December when Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Mike Flynn, and that Overstock weirdo Patrick Byrne got snuck into the Oval Office by a junior staffer, so they could present their ridiculous fraud theories and agitate for the president to declare martial law, seize all the voting machines, and appoint Powell as special counsel to "investigate" non-existent election fraud.
We will never stop giggling about attorney Eric Herschmann threatening to beat up Mike Flynn if he didn't sit his ass down, while Byrne hoovered up plate after plate of Swedish meatballs. Ditto for the revelation that, once again, democracy was saved by Trump's total incompetence: he doesn't seem to have understood how to make Special Counsel Sidney Powell happen, and no one around him was willing to help with the paperwork. Not that it stopped Powell from ringing up Mark Meadows the next day and demanding he make office space available for her in the White House.
Pour one out for the Dr. Pepper marketing team!
The Tweet That Ushered In The Next Phase Of The Coup
After Sidney and Rudy backed their clown car out of the White House driveway, Trump realized he wasn't going to be able to use the levers of government to keep himself in power. As with the Oval Office showdown three weeks later where all the lawyers threatened to quit if Trump put Jeffrey Clark in charge of the Justice Department, he understood that his only chance was to leverage the mob to stop certification on January 6. And that's not funny at all.
Hence the 1:42 a.m. tweet on December 19 inviting his crazed followers to join him three weeks later.
"Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!" he wrote, summoning the whirlwind. And the whirlwind came running!
Within hours, the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and Three Percenters started coordinating their plans. No more standing back and standing by — they knew this was an engraved invitation to descend on DC and foment violence.
Similarly Amy Kremer, the head of Women for America First, who was planning a Women's March-style protest for January 22, immediately switched the date to January 6.
Former Oath Keepers spokesman Jason Van Tatenhove was an extraordinarily effective witness. Van Tatenhove was on the inside of the organization led by Elmer Stewart Rhodes, who is now charged with seditious conspiracy along with 15 of his fellow oafs, and was able to draw a clear through line from the anti-government activities of the Bundy family to the Capitol Riot.
\u201cFormer Oath Keeper spokesperson Jason Van Tatenhove: "I spent a few years with the Oath Keepers and I can tell you that they may not like to call themselves a militia, but they are."\u201d— CSPAN (@CSPAN) 1657654121
In his quiet way, Van Tatenhove warned about the dangers of creeping authoritarianism, saying, “I think we’ve gotten exceedingly lucky that more bloodshed did not happen because the potential has been there from the start."
The Un-Permitted March On The Capitol
How the hell did everyone involved in the events of January 6, from the Proud Boys to Mike Lindell to Trump's security detail, know that the crowd was going to march on the Capitol after Trump's speech on the Ellipse? The park permit very clearly authorized a static rally, not a full-scale descent on the seat of government.
The committee has done an amazing job making its arguments crystal clear, but this one requires some elucidation, so let's spell it out here.
This is an undated draft of a tweet Trump's team wanted to send out about the march on the Capitol after the rally. "Please arrive early, massive crowds expected. March to the Capitol after. Stop the Steal!"
Members of Congress -- including GOP Reps. Mo Brooks, Brian Babin, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar, Andy Harris, Jody Hice, Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, and Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia -- discussed the planned march on the Capitol after the rally during a December 21 meeting at the White House with Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Pence. They all knew their armed supporters were descending on DC. That's why GOP Rep. Debbie Lesko was freaking out in a closed-door caucus meeting on January 5 about "Trump supporters, who actually believe that we are going to overturn the election. And when that doesn't happen... they are going to go nuts." Not that she bothered to alert the Capitol Police about her concerns.
\u201cThere were also serious concerns on Jan 5th among Members of Congress.\n\nRep. Debbie Lesko, who led objections to the election: "[We have] Trump supporters, who actually believe that we are going to overturn the election. And when that doesn't happen... they are going to go nuts"\u201d— January 6th Committee (@January 6th Committee) 1657652959
Here's a January 4 text from Amy Kremer to Mike Lindell, the Pillow weirdo, telling him there will be a march on the Capitol after the rally on the Ellipse.
"This stays only between us," she cautions, adding that "It can also not get out about the march because I will be in trouble with the national park service and all the agencies but POTUS is going to just call for it 'unexpectedly.'"
As filmmaker Nick Quested testified in the first hearing, the Proud Boys left the Ellipse before Trump even spoke. Whoever was planning this "unexpected" march had clued in the violent militias. The goons wanted to be in place when the rest of the mob arrived so they could stand at the front of the pack and exhort the mob to attack the Capitol Police officers.
\u201cAt 12:47 pm last year, Proud Boys joined hundreds of other protesters at a Capitol entrance. At 12:53 p.m., Ryan Samsel, a Trump supporter from Pennsylvania approached the barricade. Dozens followed and overran police. The protest became a riot.\u201d— Day of Rage Film (@Day of Rage Film) 1641484348
Note the orange armbands worn by the Arizona branch of the Proud Boys.
Someone from the White House made sure the most violent people had a heads up that Trump was going to lead the crowd to the Capitol. And Trump intended to go with them, which is why he lost his shit, even going so far as to physically attack his driver, when he wasn't allowed to lead the mob in its assault.
Would the Capitol have been better guarded if the Trump people hadn't made damn sure no one knew there was going to be a coordinated march led by violent militia members? Now do you see why this permit thing matters?
The Human Cost
The hearing ended with testimony from Capitol riot defendant Stephen Ayres, who recently pled guilty to disorderly conduct. Ayres wasn't clued in to the plan to descend on Congress. He's a more-or-less normal guy, who spent a lot of time on social media being told that Democrats stole the election from Donald Trump.
When Trump tweeted that he should come to DC, he came. When Trump told him to march on the Capitol, he marched. When Trump tweeted "Go home, we love you," he left.
Now he has a criminal record, and he's lost his job and his home.
And you may think he deserves what he got — or worse. Maybe you're remembering Wandrea' Arshaye "Shaye" Moss and her mother "Lady Ruby" Freeman, who did their jobs as election workers in Georgia, only to find themselves harassed and targeted by dangerous Trump supporters after Rudy Giuliani falsely accused them of scanning suitcases of fraudulent ballots to steal the election for Biden. Maybe you're thinking of the Capitol Police getting beaten and bloodied by the people who rushed in alongside Ayres. Maybe you're terrified about creeping authoritarianism and you don't have any space left to worry about these MAGA loons.
All of that is totally fair! But at the same time, let's acknowledge the person who is guiltiest of all is the one who knew damn well that there was no election fraud and was perfectly willing to lie to his own supporters and ruin their lives in an effort to put an end to American democracy.
Barring that, at least accept that this person is probably a persuasive witness to people who aren't reading this particular little mommyblog on the regular.
On December 18, Trump realized he wasn't going to be able to wield executive power to stay in office, so he turned to the mob. With his "will be wild" tweet, he deliberately summoned violent militants to DC. And multiple people in his orbit coordinated with those militants to make sure that they were there waiting when Trump "unexpectedly" dispatched militants to march on the Capitol after his speech on the Ellipse.
Who in the White House told the Proud Boys to be there? And why didn't they tell the Capitol Police what to expect?
We damn well better find that out at next week's hearing.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.