Jan. 6 Capitol Invasion Secretly Planned In Advance

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A crowd watches Donald Trump's speech at the Ellipse Jan. 6, prior to storming the capitol. Photo courtesy of Voice of America

Far from being something unforeseeable that got out of hand, the Jan. 6, 2021 invasion of the United States Capitol was planned in advance as part of the three-pronged strategy to overturn the 2020 election. That was the main thrust of the seventh hearing of the Jan. 6 Committee on July 12. Moreover, Committee Vice-Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) emphasized, it was Donald Trump himself, not crazy outside advisers, who was responsible for what unfolded.

“[Former] President Trump is a 76-year-old man. He is not an impressionable child,” Cheney said. “Just like everyone else in our country, he is responsible for his own actions and his own choices.”

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In fact, Trump himself set things in motion on Dec. 19, with a tweet summoning his supporters to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6, promising it “Will be wild!” after a marathon six-hour meeting that left him dissatisfied with the options his outside advisers advanced. Rather than follow their advice, he hit on his own three-pronged plan.

That meeting, described as “unhinged,” involved White House attorneys and outside advisers screaming at each other, according to taped testimony. Trump’s sympathies lay with the outsiders encouraging him to keep fighting — he appeared to appoint one of them, Sidney Powell, as a “special prosecutor,” but never followed through with paperwork. Nor did he pursue their proposed plan to seize voting machines from multiple states, which his White House Counsel Pat Cipollone condemned as “a terrible idea for the country,” adding, “There’s no legal authority to do that.”

But their reckless spirit spilled over into Trump’s plan for what committee member Jaime Raskin described as “three rings of interwoven attack” focused on subverting the election on Jan. 6.

The inside ring, Raskin said, focused on “getting Mike Pence to abandon his oath of office … to reject electoral votes,” the middle ring, “members of domestic violent extremist groups created an alliance both online and in-person to coordinate a massive effort to storm, invade, and occupy the Capitol,” and the outer ring, consisted of the “large and angry crowd,” that “with the proper incitement by political leaders and the proper instigation from the extremists … could be led to storm the Capitol, confront the vice president and Congress, and try to overturn the 2020 election results.”

While there isn’t evidence that Trump coordinated directly with the extremist groups, he didn’t need to for his plan to succeed. It was sufficient simply to summon them, which they responded by dramatically shifting their behavior to align with him, as supported by taped testimony. “The former president, for seemingly the first time, was speaking directly to extremist organizations and giving them directives,” a Twitter employee recalled. “We had not seen that sort of direct communication before.” The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers had not worked together before, but now they and other groups began coordinating — as earlier evidence, highlighted by Raskin, had already established.

Prior to that tweet, extremists “were prepared to fight,” but “it was vague,” the employee said. Afterwards, “It became clear not only were these individuals ready and willing, but the leader of their cause was asking them to join him in this cause and in fighting for this cause in D.C. on Jan. 6.”

What was necessary, however, was the element of surprise: keeping the crowd in the dark until the last moment, along with law enforcement and security officials. And there’s plenty of evidence of this.

One of two live witnesses, Stephen Ayres, a former Trump supporter convicted for his involvement, only came to attend the rally and “didn’t actually plan to go down there” to the Capitol, until Trump riled up the crowd. After the speech, “I’m angry,” he said. “So were most of the people there.” And “I think everybody thought he was going to be coming down” to march with them.

Trump’s intention to storm the Capitol was known to the rally organizers in advance.

In the previous hearing, Cassidy Hutchinson said that her boss, Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had warned her on Jan. 2 that things might get “real, real bad” on Jan. 6. In this hearing, committee member Stephanie Murphy revealed a pattern of specific communications about what was in store.

After a phone call with Meadows, rally organizer Katrina Pierson sent an email to her fellow organizers, saying, “POTUS expectations are to have something intimate at the Ellipse, and call on everyone to march to the Capitol.”

Murphy also shared a Jan. 4 text message from a rally organizer to Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO: “This stays between us. We’re having a second stage at the Supreme Court again, after the Ellipse. POTUS is going to have us march there/the Capitol. It cannot get out about the second stage, because people will try and set up another and sabotage it. 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, quote, unexpectedly.”

The extremists knew what was coming as well — as did anyone following them on social media. And not a few days in advance.

“When people are shooting each other tomorrow, I will try and rest in the knowledge that we tried,” the anonymous Twitter employee said in a Slack message on Jan. 5.

“For months I had been begging and anticipating and attempting to raise the reality that if nothing — if we made no intervention into what I saw occurring, people were going to die,” they said. “And on Jan. 5, I realized no intervention was coming.”

The eighth Jan. 6 Committee hearing is scheduled for July 21, in primetime, and will focus on the insurrection itself. But the evidence laid out in the July 12 hearing makes it unmistakable who is ultimately responsible for all the carnage of that day.

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