WASHINGTON (AP) – Members of President Donald Trump’s failed presidential campaign played a key role in holding the Washington rally that spawned fatal attack on the US Capitol, according to an Associated Press review of records, undercut claims that the event was the brainchild of the president’s grassroots supporters.
A pro-Trump nonprofit called Women for America First held a Save America Rally on January 6 in Ellipse, an oval federal patch of land near the White House. But an attachment to the National Park Service’s public assembly permit granted to the group lists more than half a dozen staff members for the event, who were paid thousands of dollars just weeks earlier in Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign. Other workers who are to be “on the spot” during the demonstration are closely linked to the White House.
Since the siege, several of them have tried to distance themselves from the rally.
The riots in the Capitol, triggered by Trump’s comments before and during the Ellipse speech, led to a settlement unprecedented in American history. The president ordered the crowds to march to the Capitol and that “you will not make our country weak. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. “
A week after the rally, Trump was … questioned by the House of Representatives, becoming the first US president to be indicted twice. But the political and legal ramifications could extend well beyond Trump, who will leave the White House on Wednesday before Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath. Trump for almost two months refused to accept his defeat in the 2020 election to the former vice president.
Women for America First, which applied for and received the Park Service permit, did not respond to messages asking for comment on funding for the event and involvement in the Trump campaign. The rally attracted tens of thousands of people.
In a statement, the president’s election campaign stated that it “did not organize, service or finance the event.” According to the statement, no campaign employees were involved in organizing or conducting the rally. It found that if former employees or independent contractors were involved in the campaign, they “did not do so under the direction of the Trump campaign.”
At least one has worked in the Trump campaign this month. Megan Powers was named as one of the two COs of the January 6 event, and her LinkedIn profile says she was Chief Operating Officer of Trump’s campaign until January 2021. She did not respond to the message asking for comment.
An AP review found that at least three Trump campaign associates named on the permit rushed to hide their ties to the demonstration. They deactivated or blocked their social media profiles and removed tweets that related to the rally. Two blocked a reporter who asked questions.
Caroline Wren, a veteran of GOP fundraising, was named “VIP Advisor” in an appendix to the license that Women for America First provided to the agency. According to data from the Federal Election Commission, President Inc. Donald J. Trump from mid-March to mid-November. he paid Wren $ 20,000 a month. During the campaign was a national financial consultant for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the president’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee.
According to Kimberly Fletcher, chairman of one of these groups, Moms for America, Wren was involved in at least one phone call ahead of the Trump supporters’ rally, with members of several groups listed as participants in the rally, to arrange credentials for VIP participants.
Wren re-sent messages about the event ahead of time, but her Google account cache shows that at least eight of those tweets have disappeared from her timeline. Apparently, some she deleted herself and others were sent from accounts suspended by Twitter.
One of the messages Wren forwarded came from “Stop the Steal,” another group identified as a rally participant on the event website. The January 2 message thanked Republican senators, including Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas, who said they would vote to overturn Biden’s electoral victory. She also re-sent a January 1 presidential message promoting the event, as well as promotional messages from one of the president’s sons, Eric Trump, and Katrina Pierson, a Tea Party activist and spokesman for the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.
Wren did not respond to messages requesting a comment and blocked her Twitter account after the AP contacted her last Monday to inquire about her participation in a Trump rally and tweets removed. A few days later she blocked an AP reporter.
Maggie Mulvaney, the niece of former Trump’s top adviser Mick Mulvaney, is listed on the license appendix as a “VIP Lead.” She served as chief financial officer for the Trump campaign, according to her LinkedIn profile. According to FEC data, Maggie Mulvaney earned $ 5,000 every two weeks from Trump’s election campaign, with the last payment being made on November 13.
Maggie Mulvaney deleted her Twitter account last Monday, although it reappeared after the AP asked her to delete her account.
Maggie Mulvaney retweeted several messages on Jan. 6, including one from the president, calling for support from the Capitol police. Trump’s Twitter account has been suspended, but the message could be seen in her Twitter account cache captured by Google. She also sent a message from her uncle urging Trump to address the nation.
Maggie Mulvaney did not reply to messages asking for a comment.
The Uprising on Capitol Hill prompted Mick Mulvaney to step down as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. He told CNBC the day after the assault that staying in office would make people say, “Oh yeah, you’re working for the guy who tried to get ahead of the government.”
Women for America First leaders are not new to politics.
Amy Kremer, named as group chairman in a file submitted to the Virginia state corporation commission, is “one of the founding mothers of the modern tea movement,” according to its website. According to the data, her daughter, Kylie Jane Kremer, is the treasurer of the organization.
A year ago, the IRS recognized Women for America First as a tax-exempt social welfare organization, retroactively waived until February 2019. The AP requested that the group provide any tax documents it could have filed since then, but received no response.
In a statement released the same day the rioters attacked the Capitol, Amy Kremer denounced the attack and said it was launched after the rally by “a handful of bad actors” while it appears to blame the riots on Democrats and news organizations.
“Unfortunately, for many months the left and mainstream media have been telling Americans that violence is an acceptable political tool,” she said. “They were wrong. It’s not.”
The AP analyzed social media posts, voter registrations, court records and other public records relating to more than 120 people who were facing criminal charges related to the January 6 riots or who, without their masks during the pandemic, were later identified from photos and videos taken during the fight even.
The review found that the crowd was overwhelmingly composed of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, political donors to the GOP, far-right fighters, white supremacists, off-duty police, military members, and supporters of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals.
Videos posted on social media in the days after the Capitol attack show that thousands of people stormed the Capitol. A Capitol police officer died after he was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher when rebels stormed the building and many other officers were injured. A California woman was shot and killed by capitol police, and three others died after medical emergencies during the chaos.
Trump’s incendiary statements at the January 6 rally ended a two-day series of events in Washington, organized by a coalition of the president’s supporters who reiterated his unfounded accusations that his elections had been stolen. Website, MarchtoSaveAmerica.com, was made to promote pro-Trump events and alerted supporters: “We protest outside the US Capitol at 1pm.” The website has been deactivated.
Another website, TrumpMarch.com depicts Trump with his fist raised on the front of a red, white and blue sightseeing bus that reads “Powered by Women for America First.” The logo of the bedding company “My Pillow” is also visible. Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, is a staunch supporter of Trump who falsely claimed that Trump did not lose the election to Biden and would serve another four-year term as president.
“Demand transparency and protect the fairness of elections,” reads the website. Details of the “DC PROTEST” will be announced shortly, he adds, and also lists a number of bus stops between December 27 and January 6 where Trump supporters can “join the caravan or show their support.”
Kimberly Fletcher, president of Moms for America, said she did not realize Trump’s campaign played a role in the Ellipse rally until New Year’s Day. While she didn’t work directly on the campaign, Fletcher saw a shift in who was involved in the rally and who would speak.
“When I got there and saw the size of the stage and everything else, I thought, ‘Wow, we couldn’t afford this,’ she said. “It was a big scene. It was a very professional stage. I don’t know who was in the background, who put it together or whatever.
In addition to the big stage, the Ellipse rally featured a sophisticated sound system and at least three Jumbotron-style screens that projected the president’s image to the crowd. Videos posted online show Trump and his family in a nearby private tent, watching the rally on several monitors while music blows through the background.
Moms for America held a more modest “Save the Republic” rally on January 5 near the US Capitol, an event that attracted around 500 people and cost $ 13,000 to $ 14,000, according to Fletcher.
Justin Caporale is on the Women for America First list as project manager for the event. He is identified as a partner at Event Strategies Inc., a management and production company. Caporale, formerly chief adviser to First Lady Melania Trump, was on the Trump campaign payroll for most of 2020, according to FEC data, and recently received $ 7,500 every fortnight. Caporale did not respond to requests for comment.
Tim Unes, founder and president of Event Strategies, was the “stage manager” of the rally on January 6, according to the license documents. Unes has years of ties to Trump, which it highlights on its company’s website. Trump’s presidential campaign paid Event Strategies $ 1.3 million in 2020 for “audiovisual services,” according to the campaign’s financial data. The company declined to comment on the story.
Another person closely associated with the Trump administration, Hannah Salem, was the “operational manager of logistics and communications” at the rally, according to the licensing documents. In 2017, she left the consulting firm she founded and spent three years as a senior press advisor for the White House, “pursuing a media strategy for President Trump’s most high-profile events,” according to her biography and LinkedIn profile.
Last week, minutes after an AP reporter sent her a message on LinkedIn asking about her involvement and understanding of what happened on Jan. 6, Salem blocked the reporter and did not answer questions.
Richard Lardner and Michelle R. Smith. Rhonda Shafner and Zeke Miller contributed to this.