This is Part 6 in a series. Listen to the audio version here.
As early as February 2020, with the pandemic looming on the horizon as a huge potential liability for the Republicans, the Council for National Policy (CNP) identified three strategies that might help to avoid a loss—or at the very least muddy the waters. According to author Anne Nelson:
The first involved expanding their use of data to juice Republican votes and suppress Democratic turnout. The second was to mobilize supporters in swing states to ignite Tea Party–like protests against the virus-related public safety lockdowns. The third was to deploy physicians with dubious credentials to dismiss the dangers of Covid-19 through a massive media blitz.
It wasn’t a great strategy, and they knew they had a weak hand. They figured that the only solution would be to somehow prevent certification of the vote, such that they could put results in play in at least a few states.
In April 2020, shortly after Easter, and after just about a month of lockdowns, coordinated protests emerged in about eighteen states. Filmmaker Mikki Willis, a propagandist who had also been present at Standing Rock, released the propaganda film Plandemic in April featuring discredited researcher Dr. Judy Mikovits.
Violence over the summer in response to the murder of George Floyd helped to crystallize “Antifa” as a rhetorical foil to any right-wing factions such as the Proud Boys, Three Percenters or Oath Keepers—despite the false equivalence. While there had been established white supremacist groups for many decades, anti-fascist groups had considerably less history and organizational heft. But this ersatz match-up between two opposing “sides” imparted a menacing atmosphere of conflict.
By the time people began to go to the polls in October, concerns about the integrity of the US Postal Service (vital for mail-in ballots) had reached a fever pitch, leaving many with feelings of uncertainty, and that “anything might happen.”
Meanwhile, leading CNP figures had begun to realize that they would need to deploy their full range of capabilities to retain control of power—or, crucially, to forcefully seize it in the event of an election loss. Advisors began exploring strategies they could use in the event of the loss of either the popular vote or the Electoral College, or both.
Also in February 2020, CNP member Lisa Nelson, the CEO of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), launched a strategic push to ensure state legislatures knew they would be part of any strategy to challenge the electoral vote, and that they planned to challenge individual secretaries of state and inquire “what really did happen that night?” (Ultimately, they set out to physically intervene in the states’ certification, and reportedly aimed to intercept the electoral ballots themselves.)
The network behind January 6th had been coalescing in 2018–2019 in meetings of CNP and the Schlafly Eagles. On September 14, 2018 at the Schlafly Eagles annual conference in St. Louis, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn was awarded the inaugural “Jack Singlaub Award.” Presented by Ed Martin of the Schlafly Eagles and also of Singlaub’s own group, America’s Future, Flynn graciously accepted the award. Many people involved in promoting aspects of the operation were present, including Jack Posobiec, Cassandra Fairbanks, Mike Cernovich, Jim Hoft, and of course, Michael Flynn, his brother Joe, and his son Michael.
In 2019, the same gathering included even more characters who would go on to become involved in the lead up to and events of January 6th, including Scott Presler, Ali Alexander, Brandon Straka (Walkaway), Jack Posobiec, Logan Cook (Carpe Donktum), and Tony “Spooky” Shaffer. Steve Bannon, who would later go on to say on January 5th, “All hell is going to break loose tomorrow,” also spoke at the Schlafly Eagle Forum in 2019.
Stop The Steal 2020
Jack Posobiec first signaled the intention to pursue a 2020 #StopTheSteal strategy via Twitter, on September 7, 2020.
Two months later, when the election was called for Joe Biden on Saturday, November 7, 2020 (a moment I remember well, as I was standing on the Ellipse at the White House that morning—the same site where the January 6th rally would be organized by CNP member Kylie Kremer just two months later), the CNP network and all its allies were fully activated. This was war.
On November 10, Trump installed a clique of four loyalists at the Pentagon and NSA, several notches above their normal pay-grade. He placed Ezra Cohen-Watnick (a former aide to Michael Flynn) as Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security; Anthony Tata as Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy; Kash Patel as Chief of staff, Defense Department; and Michael Ellis as General Counsel at NSA. This seemed to be a strategic move, but it wasn’t entirely clear why at the time.
Several co-conspirators, including Patel, Stone, Flynn attorney Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, Jack Posobiec, and many others, also appeared in the propaganda film, “The Plot Against the President,” available free on Amazon Prime. The film suggests that Trump was framed in an attempted deep state “coup” during the 2016 transition period—a projection of what was actually happening in 2020.
Parler, a conservative clone of Twitter (created in 2018, following the suggestion by Konstantin Malofeev), had seen a massive uptick in downloads in the days following the election and was being used to attract an audience for planned Stop The Steal rallies. On November 13, I exposed details that raised questions about Parler’s possible links to Russia and to Rebekah Mercer.
On November 14, the date of the first Stop The Steal Rally in Washington, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that Parler was owned by an opaque shell corporation said to be funded primarily by Rebekah Mercer. (In January, she would fire CEO John Matze, replacing him with CNP member and founder of Tea Party Patriots, Mark Meckler. Parler is now the subject of an inquiry by the House Oversight committee.)
Alexander and Alex Jones did a dry run at the Georgia capitol on November 18. A second stop the steal rally was organized for December 12. Jones, Flynn, Stone, and Alexander were speakers at all three main events on November 14, December 12, and January 5–6.
Michael Flynn was pardoned by the president and by William Barr on November 30, 2020. He and his attorney Sidney Powell met with the president on December 18 to convince him to declare martial law. White House Counsel Pat Cipillone is said to have talked him out of it.
The danger was palpable. On Sunday, January 3, anticipating what appeared to be brewing within the defense and intelligence community, all ten living former Secretaries of Defense issued a joint letter, stating: “Civilian and military officials who direct or carry out such measures would be accountable, including potentially facing criminal penalties, for the grave consequences of their actions on our republic.”
For a full account of the lead-up, see this exhaustive play-by-play going back to September from The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Lab.
A Disaster Unfolds
By January 5, the chief conspirators were chanting in unison. From a later CNN report (“How Trump allies stoked the flames ahead of Capitol riot”) about that day:
Steve Bannon evoked the beaches of Normandy. Michael Flynn drew comparisons to Civil War battlefields and spoke of Americans who died for their country. Roger Stone called it a struggle “between the godly and the godless, between good and evil.” Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat.” Ali Alexander said it would be a “knife fight.”
CNP members were key players in the preparation and execution of the failed coup. Author Anne Nelson has documented CNP’s extensive involvement in her excellent piece published February 22. Dr. Simone Gold pushed COVID disinformation, and was inside the Capitol on January 6th. Sidney Powell worked with Flynn and lawyer Lin Wood on ludicrous legal strategies and typo-laden lawsuits. Cleta Mitchell pleaded, with Trump, to Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger for 11,781 votes. Dr. Scott Magill, of Veterans in Defense of Liberty, summoned veterans and bikers to participate, saying “our battle cry shall be, ‘We will not concede!’”
CNP heavyweight Ginni Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas, enthusiastically supported the January 6th coup; she recanted weeks later. Charlie Kirk helped coordinate transportation to the rally. Brent Bozell IV, son of CNP 30-year executive committee veteran Brent Bozell III, entered the Senate chamber and directed C-SPAN’s camera at the floor.
On January 3rd, Kylie Kremer, daughter of CNP’s Amy Kremer (who founded Tea Party Patriots with now-Parler CEO Mark Meckler), took out the permit for the rally at the Ellipse. “Plandemic” filmmaker and Standing Rock operative Mikki Willis joined and praised the violent mob, and David E. Martin from Plandemic II spoke at the MAGA Freedom Rally on January 5th. Ali Alexander is, at the time of this writing, “at large,” hosting chats on social audio app Clubhouse, even as others whose involvement was minimal in comparison have been arrested.
The Pentagon’s three hour and 19 minute delay in sending National Guard troops was a key cause of the breach of the US Capitol. Capitol Police and the Pentagon have advanced conflicting narratives. The Washington Post reported that some of the delays in making the decision to send troops to the Capitol were caused by the team of loyalists installed by Trump on November 10. Additionally, Michael Flynn’s brother, Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, was part of that decision—a fact that the Army initially lied about. We still do not have a coherent explanation for what happened at the Pentagon that day, and where Flynn himself was as this unfolded. Congress must launch a full investigation.
Heavy participation from people in the military and intelligence community in promotion, preparation, and execution of the event suggests a coordinated networked insurgency. As reported in Part 4, a network of former military and intelligence veterans were instrumental in promoting and advancing the narratives associated with QAnon and that ultimately led to the insurrection.
Additionally, researchers examining the Virginia Citizens Defense League believe that Flynn was directly networked with that group, per the poster on his wall in the video above bearing their logo.
Another group, GoldCorp (said to be a “joke meme group,” with the Twitter bio “PREMIER NON-FIAT PMC”), toured the Capitol on January 5th and left menacing stickers, with the help of collaborators inside Congress.
Marjorie Taylor Greene (who now represents much of Larry McDonald’s Georgia district 🤯 ) told people in a 2019 video to “flood the Capitol.”
What We Think We Know
The events of January 6th were the expression of a long-standing conflict between two powerful networks. Like two tectonic plates colliding, the conflict resulted in the release of energy in the form of violence, bewilderment, and the rupture of the values and norms of democracy.
The paradigms of left or right and Democrat or Republican have negative utility when trying to evaluate what occurred here, as these networked conflicts are longstanding and have persisted through time. This conflict has roots in the 20th century world wars, and in the US civil war. In history, themes ebb and flow, and some long-standing conflicts return repeatedly over time until a new consensus can be synthesized.
In this case, I believe the primary conflict can be traced back to the idea of “molestation,” and a deep-seated human obsession with the idea of “property.” For some, it is a primary concern. For others, it is secondary to the well-being of society as a whole. We may never fully resolve this, and indeed people who are most enamored with “property,” have developed extensive frameworks predicated on the concept and informed by the non-aggression principle: libertarianism and paleo-conservatism.
A world rooted in the “gold standard” is closer to what libertarians think is a “just” system. Opponents suggest it is also one more likely to fall victim to boom and bust cycles, fascist and authoritarian tendencies, and war and famine. Bitcoin is an attempt to enshrine the libertarian value system in code, and its advocates would very much like to migrate global finances entirely to it. They also tend to believe that intelligence should be used as a tool to keep “subversives” (namely, anti-property ‘communists’) in line.
For most people, these are arcane and counterproductive points of debate. Most people just want to have a comfortable life where they can stay healthy, do some good, achieve some goals, and enjoy the comforts of family.
In the end, it’s about trust. Ideological libertarians want a world where trust is not necessary, because they do not think people or institutions are trustworthy. Most other people feel differently, and believe that trust is not only possible but necessary in order to build a workable world. And some see positive points on both sides of the argument.
At this point, you will not be surprised to learn that Jack Singlaub was obsessed with gold, and traveled to the Phillippines in 1988 to recover Yamashita’s gold, stashed at the end of World War II. CNP researcher Anne Nelson was in the room in 1988 when he delivered funds to Malacanang Palace, related to his hunt for gold—a hunt that may have been partly successful. Pieces of this story even became part of QAnon folklore, whether true or not.
Others have begun to notice that the same people who infiltrated Standing Rock and promoted QAnon were deeply involved in Occupy Wall Street chapters around the world. Lisa Clapier, the QAnon figure known as “SnowWhite7IAM” ran communications for Occupy LA.
This won’t be settled anytime soon. But we can expose it to sunlight. We can stop bickering over the daily stream of provocations and focus on the broader themes of history. We can understand that political technologists are using our “common sense” notions as leverage to radicalize people into increasingly unruly factions.
The concept of “Russian meddling” was a bad frame. Rather, we are confronting a global network of ruthless aligned interests that is willing to use fascism and the banner of “anti-communism” to gain and retain power. And that network includes participants in the United States, Russia, UK, Europe and many other countries. Russia’s activity in the United States was a collaboration between peers—not an outside intervention. And we must also hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its many gross human rights violations.
The lust for power, sex, and wealth knows no bounds, and unless we expose and control it, it will fully and permanently overwhelm the institutions of democracy.
The good news is we know what’s happening. Now, we need to tell the story— and do something about it.
Bonus, continued in this Coda: The Redpill Deception and the Tipping Point
This is part six of a six part series that aims to provide historical context for the events that took place on January 6th. Please follow me on Twitter for subsequent updates as they become available. Media inquiries for features, podcasts, and other derivative works may be directed via email. For additional details on this research, please see this exhaustive documentation.
Special thanks, also, to my friend Anne Nelson, whose tireless research on CNP made this broader analysis possible. Her book, Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right, will be released in paperback in May 2021.