The meetings weren’t purely informational: At least one member of Congress was urging them to put on a protest. The two sources are subjects of an unrelated investigation that Gosar used as incentive to get them to plan the Ellipse protest, telling them that Trump would give them “blanket pardons.”
“Our impression was that it was a done deal,” the organizer said, “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.”
The sources insist that they were involved only in planning the rally at the Ellipse, with the intention of pressuring Congress from that relatively safe distance to overturn the election. They wanted to overturn the election—they just insist they didn’t think it would be violent.
”The breaking point for me [on Jan. 6 was when] Trump starts talking about walking to the Capitol,” said the organizer. “I was like, ‘Let’s get the fuck out of here.’”
The planner, too, pointed a finger at Trump, saying, “I do kind of feel abandoned by Trump.”
And both pointed to the role of Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander, who previously bragged about planning Jan. 6 events with the help of Biggs, Brooks, and Gosar. Alexander, the sources told Rolling Stone, had agreed to not hold his “Wild Protest” at the Capitol, leaving the Ellipse event as the major draw of the day. But then he went ahead with it anyway. “We ended up escalating that to everybody we could, including [then White House chief of staff Mark] Meadows,” the organizer said. But Meadows—who they say was more broadly involved in planning Jan. 6 events—apparently didn’t intervene to stop Alexander’s event.
A spokesman for Greene said her involvement was only in planning to object to the electoral certification in Congress, despite the fact that she was billed as a speaker at Alexander’s Wild Protest, as were Gosar and Boebert. Presumably all of the congressional Republicans will claim that they were only expecting a peaceful if spirited protest while they tried to overturn the results of a presidential election based entirely on conspiracy theories and sore loserdom. But despite the refusal of some on Team Trump, like Steve Bannon, to respond to the House select committee’s subpoenas, it sounds like the committee will be getting some valuable information about the planning process and the involvement of key Republicans.