March 22, 2023

INCITEMENT: These are the extremists that Trump insisted speak at “Stop the Steal” rally

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Alex Jones and Ali Alexander are both known right-wing organizers, conspiracy theorists, and agitators. In advance of the January 6th “Stop the Steal” rally, protests, and violence in D.C., advisors to Donald Trump tried to keep them away.

Taylor Budowich, a communications director for Trump, and Katerina Pierson, a senior advisor, discussed the rally in advance, the January 6th Committee gleaned from their depositions.

In particular, they exchanged messages about Ali Alexander and Alex Jones, agreeing that neither should be allowed to speak at the rally and suggesting they should instead be “redirected” to the less-significant January 5th events.

Budowich in particular seems to consider Alex Jones a high-level instigator, saying in one January 7th text message entered into evidence that if he’d been allowed to speak, “the Capitol would be burning.”

He later characterizes both as “irresponsible people.”

The full report from the Committee seems to affirm the danger Jones posed, noting that he “repeatedly told his InfoWars’ viewers that January 6th would be a day of reckoning,” and that he devoted nearly an entire episode to Trump’s “be wild” tweet, telling believers that Trump needed their help.

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“Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Ali Alexander were all angling for significant stage time. Pierson knew they were trouble,” the Select Committee report reads.

“POTUS…like the crazies,” Pierson said to Kylie Kremer, another organizer, in a text.

She worried because, in November, Jones and Alexander had already been a part of staging a protest in Georgia that included entering the Capitol in Atlanta.

The report sums up the clash between her concerns and Trump’s demands:

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“Pierson said…President Trump ‘loved people who viciously defended him in public.’ But their ‘vicious’ defenses of the President clearly troubled Pierson,” the report states.

As for Budowich, he told the Committee that he had problems with the rhetoric used by Jones and Alexander — whom he refers to by the last name ‘Akbar,’ which Alexander has said he doesn’t use because of prejudice — but was unable to cite specific concerns, other than that he felt they made the movement look bad.

In one message entered into evidence, he said:

“Ali Akbar and Alex Jones are destructive to what the President is working toward and terrible for Don [Trump Jr.] and Kim [Guilfoyle] to share a stage with. I don’t want to be involved with that.”

What role does the Committee think that Jones and Alexander may have played?

They cite both referencing “1776” in their speeches — a MAGA shortcut to call for revolution.

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The Select Committee has documentation suggesting that each believed Trump expected them to lead the crowd from the Ellipse to the Capitol and that the pair actually did take part in this, although “it’s not clear how many people followed them.”

The report also notes proximity to violence and lawbreaking:

“Jones has repeatedly claimed that he tried to calm the crowd, but his actions also coincided with two police line breaches and one breach of the Capitol building itself…The Select Committee’s review of the evidence showed that Jones simultaneously called on the crowd to ‘fight’ and start a ‘revolution,’ while occasionally peppering his rhetoric with the word ‘peacefully.'”

The pair reportedly expected Trump to join them in his motorcade, and are documented discussing his expected route and arrival, suggesting they had some knowledge of his plans, though it’s not clear if they were ever in any direct communication with the then-president.

Perhaps Special Counsel Jack Smith can shed further light on this.

Steph Bazzle covers politics and theocracy, always aiming for a world free from extremism and authoritarianism. Follow Steph on Twitter @imjustasteph.

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