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A right-wing mob, fueled by then-President Donald Trump's lies about voter fraud, violently rioted at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying the 2020 presidential election results in a joint session of the 117th Congress on January 6, 2021. (Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Any Lawmaker Involved in Planning Jan. 6 Insurrection 'Must Be Expelled,' Says AOC

Organizers of the deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol say that several congressional Republicans and White House officials helped plan former President Donald Trump's coup attempt.

Kenny Stancil

In response to new reporting that several congressional Republicans and White House officials were "intimately involved" in planning the January 6 Capitol attack—part of former President Donald Trump's far-reaching election subversion plot—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday night demanded the expulsion of any lawmaker who aided and abetted the violent assault on U.S. democracy.

"Any member of Congress who helped plot a terrorist attack on our nation's Capitol must be expelled," tweeted Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). "This was a terror attack. 138 injured, almost 10 dead. Those responsible remain a danger to our democracy, our country, and human life in the vicinity of our Capitol and beyond."

Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) tweeted in response to the Rolling Stone report that her "resolution to investigate and expel the members of Congress who helped incite the deadly insurrection on our Capitol," House Resolution 25, "is just waiting for a vote."

On Sunday night, the magazine detailed "explosive allegations" about the January 6 riot, wherein a right-wing mob fueled by Trump's lie that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen stormed the halls of Congress in an attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

Amid an ongoing probe led by the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, Rolling Stone has spoken with two unnamed individuals who were "involved in organizing the main event aimed at objecting to the electoral certification, which took place at the White House Ellipse," and who are cooperating with the panel's investigators. According to the magazine:

These two sources also helped plan a series of demonstrations that took place in multiple states around the country in the weeks between the election and the storming of the Capitol. According to these sources, multiple people associated with the March for Trump and Stop the Steal events that took place during this period communicated with members of Congress throughout this process.

Among other things, the magazine reported that prior to January 6:

  • The two sources say they engaged in "dozens" of planning conversations, in which Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) participated or "had top staffers join";
  • The two sources say they "interacted with members of Trump's team." That includes former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, "who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence," as well as Katrina Pierson, a former member of Trump's 2016 and 2020 campaigns whom one organizer called "our go-to girl" and "our primary advocate";
  • Gosar, "who has been one of the most prominent defenders of the Jan. 6 rioters," allegedly "dangled the possibility of a 'blanket pardon' in an unrelated ongoing investigation to encourage them to plan the protests."

Both organizers received "several assurances" about the "blanket pardon" from Gosar, one source told Rolling Stone.

"Our impression was that it was a done deal," said the source, "that he'd spoken to the president about it in the Oval... in a meeting about pardons and that our names came up. They were working on submitting the paperwork and getting members of the House Freedom Caucus to sign on as a show of support."

"I was just going over the list of pardons and we just wanted to tell you guys how much we appreciate all the hard work you've been doing," Gosar said, according to the organizer.

The magazine has separately obtained documentary evidence that on January 6, both organizers were in contact with Boebert and Gosar, whose office is being investigated by the House select committee.

In addition, Rolling Stone reported, "both Brooks and Cawthorn spoke with Trump at the Ellipse on Jan. 6. In his speech at that event, Brooks, who was reportedly wearing body armor, declared, 'Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.' Gosar, Greene, and Boebert were all billed as speakers at the 'Wild Protest,' which also took place on Jan. 6 at the Capitol."

One of the leading organizers of the latter event was Ali Alexander, leader of Stop the Steal, a key group promoting efforts to challenge Biden's victory. In a since-deleted livestream broadcast, Alexander said that Gosar, Brooks, and Biggs helped develop the strategy for the so-called "Wild Protest."

At a December 2020 Stop the Steal event in Phoenix, Alexander called Gosar, one of the main speakers, "my captain," and he also heaped praise on Biggs, describing him as "one of the other heroes."

Both sources maintain that ahead of January 6, "the plan they had discussed with other organizers, Trump allies, and members of Congress was a rally that would solely take place at the Ellipse, where speakers—including the former president—would present 'evidence' about issues with the election. This demonstration would take place in conjunction with objections that were being made by Trump allies during the certification on the House floor that day," Rolling Stone reported.

During his speech at the Ellipse, however, Trump encouraged his supporters to make their way to the Capitol, and before he had finished talking, the barricades were being stormed.

According to the two organizers, Alexander had agreed to not hold his "Wild Protest" at the Capitol, but when it appeared that the event may materialize, Meadows—one of four Trump allies subpoenaed by the House select committee—was made aware of concerns about the potential for violence, and did nothing to stop it.

Although there were earlier indications that the Trump administration and members of Congress "played some role in the Jan. 6 events and similar rallies that occurred in the lead-up to that day," Rolling Stone noted, "the two sources say they can provide new details about the members' specific roles in these efforts."

"The sources plan to share that information with congressional investigators right away," according to the magazine. "While both sources say their communications with the House's Jan. 6 committee thus far have been informal, they are expecting to testify publicly."

Just hours after the violent right-wing attack they helped foment through baseless allegations of voter fraud was contained, 147 GOP lawmakers—including more than two-thirds of House Republicans plus several Senate Republicans—voted in the early morning of January 7 to overturn election results in key states, attempting to disenfranchise millions of voters in the process.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) on Sunday urged people to "never forget" Trump's failed coup attempt.

Yale historian Timothy Snyder, meanwhile, warned that "a failed coup is a trial run for a successful coup."

"Instead of just a person who makes a disorganized attempt," said the expert on authoritarianism, "we now have that person, plus institutional machinery, time to plan, and the Big Lie."

Since last year's election, GOP lawmakers at the state level have weaponized lies about electoral fraud to legitimize anti-democratic electoral review mechanisms and a nationwide campaign of voter suppression, prompting University of Pennsylvania political scientist Adolph Reed Jr. to declare in a recent essay that maintaining Democratic majorities in both chambers of Congress is necessary to prevent 2022 or 2024 from marking "the end of the proceduralist democracy to which we've been accustomed."

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