In Call For Jan. 6 Riot, a plea for ‘Descend on the Capitol’

One week before an angry mob stormed the Capitol, a communications expert named Jason Sullivan, a one-time aide to Roger J. Stone Jr., during a conference call with a group of supporters of President Donald J. Trump and made an urgent pleads.

After assuring his listeners that the 2020 elections were set, Mr. Sullivan told her they had to go to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021 – the day that Congress would convene to finalize the counting of elections – and “go down to the Capitol,” according to a recording of the call received by The New York Times.

While Mr. Sullivan asserted that he was “not involved in any violence or riots,” urging those in attendance to feel their presence in the Capitol in a way that would intimidate members of Congress, and told the group that they had to make sure legislators inside the building “understood that people were breathing down their necks.”

He also promised that Mr. Trump would take on his own action; the president, he said, would pass a form of antitrust law on Jan. 6 and would not leave the office.

“Praying will never be in that White House,” he said. Sullivan explained. “That’s my promise to each of you.”

The recording of the call, which took place on Dec. 30, 2020, arose when the Department of Justice expanded its criminal investigation into the Capitol attack. It offers a look at the planning that went on in the run-up to the Capitol storm and the mentality of some of those on Jan. 6 as a sort of last resort for holding Mr. Trump in office.

It also reflects the complexities that federal prosecutors are likely to face when they begin the task of figuring out how many – or even whether – people involved in the political rallies that preceded the attack may be responsible for the violence that erupted. .

After more than a year of focusing exclusively on rioters who participated in the Capitol storm, prosecutors have broadened their gaze in recent weeks and have begun to question whether those involved in inciting protests – such as the one who Mr. Sullivan described – could be found guilty of disrupting the work of Congress.

Mr. Sullivan’s remarks during the call appeared to be an attempt to motivate a group of people who were hurt by the election to take immediate action against members of Congress on Jan. 6, predicting what Mr. Trump himself would say in a speech that day. While it remains unclear whether anyone on Mr. Sullivan’s call went on to join the crowd that broke through the Capitol, he seemed to encourage his listeners to put unusual pressure on legislators just as they oversee the final counting of Electoral votes College.

In a statement provided by his attorney, Mr. Sullivan dismissed the nature of the call, saying he simply “shared some encouragement” with what he described as “people who all felt their votes were cast in the 2020 election.” Mr. Sullivan said he was asked to respond to the call by a group of anti-vaccine activists – as he called “mothers for advocates of health freedom” – who called “a small, permitted event” on Jan. 6.

“I only promoted peaceful solutions where Americans could raise their voices and be heard as expressed in our first amendment,” Mr said. Sullivan said in the statement. “I do not deny the violence of any protesters in any way.”

However, in recording the call, Mr. Sullivan can be heard telling his listeners that lawmakers in the Capitol “should feel pressure.”

“If we make the people in that building sweat and they understand that they might not be able to walk down the street anymore if they do the wrong thing, then maybe they will do the right thing,” he said. “There we have to put that pressure.”

As the Department of Justice expands its investigation, federal prosecutors are using a grand jury in Washington to gather information about political organizers, speakers and so-called VIPs associated with a series of pro-Trump rallies after the 2020 election. One prominent planner of those rallies , Ali Alexander, received a summons from the grand jury and said last week that he intended to comply with their requests.

In the run-up to Jan. 6, mr. Alexander publicly discussed a pressure campaign against lawmakers that was intended to stop the final electoral count, he said, working with Representatives Mo Brooks of Alabama and representatives Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona, all Republicans.

“We have four plans to put maximum pressure on Congress while they vote,” he said. Alexander said in a since deleted video on Periscope. The plan, he said, was to “change the hearts and minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roars from outside.”

It is unclear whether the Ministry of Justice is aware of Mr. Sullivan’s conference call; the department declined to comment. The House Committee is investigating Jan.’s events. 6 a few months ago a copy of the recording was provided by the woman who made it, Staci Burk, a law student and Republican activist from Arizona.

Shortly after the election, Ms. Burk was convinced that fake ballot papers had been flown in bulk to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. They eventually filed an anonymous affidavit regarding the ballot papers in an election fraud case filed at Federal District Court in Phoenix by pro-Trump attorney Sidney Powell.

After being involved with Ms. Powell, Ms. Burk said she was approached by several members of a right-wing paramilitary group, the 1st Amendment Praetorian, which was linked to a former legal client of Ms. Powell’s, Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser.

Ms. Burk said members of the group then placed themselves under unwanted supervision, and tended to move into her home in what she described as an attempt to protect her from people who might want revenge against her for coming. voter fraud.

It was a member of the 1st Amendment Praetorian, Ms. said Burk, who had attended the conference call Mr. Sullivan. Ms. Burk said she took up the call, just as she took up other activities through the 1st Amendment Praetorian, because she felt threatened and insecure by the group’s presence in her home.

At one point in the call, Mr. Sullivan was asked by an unknown questioner whether Mr. Trump intended to on Jan. 6. That explosive concept had been made public two weeks earlier by Mr. Flynn at a performance on the right-wing television network Newsmax.

Mr. Sullivan answered the question by telling the man that he foresaw Mr. Trump put “a limited form of martial law” in place on Jan. 6.

“I see no other way around it because he will not allow election fraud,” said Mr. Sullivan said. “It will not happen.”

A self-proclaimed social media consultant “the Wizard of Twitter“Mr. Sullivan worked for a political action committee run by Mr. Stone, a longtime confidant of Mr. Trump’s, during the 2016 presidential campaign. According to Reuters, one of the projects he did for Mr. Stone was a strategy document that described how you can use Twitter “swarms” to reinforce political messages.

More recently, Mr. Sullivan has taken an active role in promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory, which states that prominent liberals belong to a cult of satan-worshiping pedophiles. At a public performance last year with Ms. Powell and Mr. Flynn, Mr. Sullivan called Hillary Clinton a “godly woman” and then made a gesture suggesting she would be hanged.

At the conference call prior to Jan. 6, mr. Sullivan told his listeners that he was an expert at making things viral online, but that it was not enough to just spread the word that the election was stealing.

“There has to be a multi-front strategy, and that multi-front strategy, I think, can come down to the Capitol without question,” he said. “Let those people feel it from within.”

Luke Broadwater contributed reporting.

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