“Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff,” roared the late-Sunday Rolling Stone headline. The report describes two January 6 protest insiders who claim they worked “back to back to back” with several Republican House members — Representatives Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, Mo Brooks, Madison Cawthorn, Andy Biggs, Louie Gohmert and Marjorie Taylor Greene — and their senior staffers, who they allege were “intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent.”
These two January 6 organizers “have begun communicating with congressional investigators and sharing new information about what happened when the former president’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol,” according to Rolling Stone. “This is the first report that the committee is hearing major new allegations from potential cooperating witnesses. While there have been prior indications that members of Congress were involved, this is also the first account detailing their purported role and its scope. The two sources also claim they interacted with members of Trump’s team, including former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who they describe as having had an opportunity to prevent the violence.”
If confirmed, this report would put the word “bombshell” to shame, and would also go a long way toward explaining why Trump’s congressional allies have been turning themselves inside out trying to change the subject. An unfortunate grain of salt must be taken with this, however. Rolling Stone’s journalistic reputation took a hit over its reporting on the University of Virginia rape scandal seven years ago. Because of this, confirmation by other news outlets is essential.
There is good reason to believe the Rolling Stone report is sound. First and foremost, it reveals that these two sources have been actively cooperating with the January 6 commission, providing specific details on who was involved with which aspects of the insurrection. Such a claim could and likely would be debunked by members of that committee if it weren’t accurate.
The Rolling Stone report comes in tandem with a damning Washington Post report detailing how space within the Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. was used as a war room for efforts to overthrow the 2020 election. “They called it the ‘command center,’” reports the Post, “a set of rooms and suites in the posh Willard hotel a block from the White House where some of President Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants were working day and night with one goal in mind: overturning the results of the 2020 election…. Their activities included finding and publicizing alleged evidence of fraud, urging members of state legislatures to challenge Biden’s victory and calling on the Trump-supporting public to press Republican officials in key states.”
Central to this effort was the enormous pressure brought to bear against Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify the election results on the same day as the insurrection took place. While Pence wobbled badly under the strain, seeking advice at one point from fellow former Indiana Sen. Dan Quayle, he ultimately chose to certify the election results. At the peak of the day’s violence, Pence was whisked from the building by the Secret Service as a mob of furious Trump supporters stormed the halls of the Capitol demanding his head. The Willard operation was so serious, in fact, that its members brought in a retired Army colonel named Phil Waldron, who specialized in psychological operations, to aid in the overall effort.
Multiple witnesses are set to testify under subpoena before the committee about what they knew of premeditated plans for violence on January 6, and how high up the chain that premeditation went. One of them, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon — who said on his podcast the day before the violence that “all hell is going to break loose” and “tomorrow is game day” — is ignoring his subpoena. By a vote of 229-202, the House approved a measure holding Bannon in contempt of Congress, and his legal fate now rests in the strangely quiescent hands of Attorney General Merrick Garland.
There are many moving pieces to this, but a sense is growing that those involved in planning and executing the attempted overthrow of the election on January 6 may be running out of room to maneuver. Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the January 6 investigation committee, told CBS News on Sunday there is “no question” the attack that day was premeditated. One wonders if Thompson is among the committee members who have spoken to the sources in the Rolling Stone report. It sure sounds like it.
Thirty years ago this week, the remnants of Hurricane Grace were engulfed by a powerful nor’easter in the waters off the Mid-Atlantic states. The combined system, jostled by a barometric ridge and a cold front, charged north as a subtropical cyclone before becoming a wildly atypical hurricane itself. The “No-Name Storm,” or the “Halloween Storm,” as it came to be called, raged for days and killed 13 people. Not long after it passed, a National Weather Service forecaster named Robert Case and an adventure author named Sebastian Junger gave it a name that stuck: The Perfect Storm.
Thirty years later, another perfect storm is brewing over Washington, D.C. If it comes together just so, the obedient minions of Donald Trump, along with Trump himself, could be exposed as active practitioners of treason within the halls of the very government they purported to serve.