Exclusive: Pro-Trump social media guru signaled awareness of militia plans in pre-Jan. 6 conference call
Jason Sullivan, a social media expert who worked for longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone, arrives at U.S. District Court to respond to a subpoena and testify before Special Counsel Robert Mueller's grand jury in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2018.REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Jason Sullivan, a pro-Trump social media strategist who is aligned with QAnon, assured listeners on a conference call one week before the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol that the information they had been hearing about election fraud and bribery was all going to come out into the open soon.

And with the disclosure of fraud and corruption, Sullivan promised, would come indictments and arrests.

“That’s why President Trump invited everybody there and said it’s going to be quote-unquote wild,” Sullivan said. “It is going to be wild. All these people are implicated. And when they certify those states, they are certifying their crime…. If they knew that there was election fraud that took place and they were involved, or they witnessed it in some way, and they certified the state, they have sealed their doom.”

Then, Sullivan indicated that he was aware of plans by militia groups to take action on Trump’s behalf.

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“There’s dates floating around for some of the people in the militia, okay?” Sullivan said. “They will not allow Biden to go into the White House. That’s a fact. I’m not part of that. I don’t applaud that. I don’t endorse it. I don’t encourage it. But I do have my ear to the railroad. We have all the real-time social media intelligence you could imagine.”

The audio recording of Sullivan’s remarks, which is being published for the first time by Raw Story, is an indication that at least some of the operatives and influencers working to mobilize Trump supporters to go to Washington, DC in the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, 2021 were aware of plans by militia groups to intervene to prevent the peaceful transition of presidential power.

The audio was provided to Raw Story by Staci Burk, a law school student. It was recorded while members of a security group known as 1st Amendment Praetorian, or 1AP, were at her house. Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, who was working closely with attorney Sidney Powell to overturn the 2020 election, arranged for the protective detail from 1AP to go to Burk’s house, which she believes was to obtain an affidavit from her, control the narrative, and gain access to a witness they sought. By August 2021, once Burk had been away from 1AP and understood she had been lied to and manipulated, she concluded there was no credible evidence of widespread election fraud.

On the recording, the 1AP member at Burk’s house can be heard saying that he was invited to join the call by Robert Patrick Lewis, the founder of the group. Burk told Raw Story that she recorded things because she feared for her safety.

Sullivan’s comments about the militia groups’ posture towards Biden’s presidency prefaced another set of remarks, which has been previously reported by the New York Times, predicting that Trump would declare martial law. The idea that Trump should invoke the Insurrection Act and order the National Guard to seize voting machines and re-run the election had been brought to Trump by Flynn and Powell, along with former Overstock.com CEO, during a Dec. 18, 2020 meeting at the White House. During the Dec. 30 conference call, Sullivan suggested that by declaring martial law, Trump could avoid the necessity of an intervention by militia groups.

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“And I don’t see any other way around it,” Sullivan said. “Because, first of all, they’re not going to allow any election fraud to take place. It’s not gonna happen. Biden will never be in that White House. That’s my promise to each and every one of you.”

Under such a scenario, pushback from left-leaning groups like Black Lives Matter and “antifa” could be expected, Sullivan continued.

“At that point, there is no more playing games: ‘We’re telling you, you got a curfew, and you gotta abide by it. Otherwise, you’re gonna get shot in the rear-end, okay. And it may be real bullets — who knows?’” he said. “But he’s not going to allow them to descend on all of our cities and burn down our cities, number one. And the main reason for that is, if he did allow them to do all of that, our militia would step up and meet them with great force, and we would therefore find ourselves in a civil war. There’s no question about that. Does anybody doubt that?”

In addition to prosecution of government officials for fraud — a QAnon fantasy promoted by many of the Trump’s followers that did not come to fruition — Sullivan told listeners on the call that public pressure would also be needed to deter lawmakers from certifying Biden’s as the next president on Jan. 6.

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“And that multi-front strategy, I do think, is descend on the Capitol, without question,” Sullivan said. “Make those people feel it inside so they understand that people are breathing down their neck. And we’ve had it. And we’ve got to be perfectly clear about it — now, I’m not inciting violence or any type of riots or anything like that. But we need to be loud.”

Sullivan could not be reached for this story.

Burk told Raw Story that she provided a copy of the recording to the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol in October 2021. She noted that Flynn and 1st Amendment Praetorian founder Robert Patrick Lewis received subpoenas from the committee, which begins public hearings Thursday [June 9], after Burk turned over her recording.

“We need to be like Jericho,” Sullivan told listeners on the call, as he described how he wanted to put pressure on lawmakers on Jan. 6. “We need to shout and scream for the walls to fall down on Capitol Hill. That’s what this optic needs to look like. And I can promise you: I can make that go so viral, so fast, across the globe. I know people. Trust me. And we know how to manipulate and drive the narrative by design.”

Sullivan worked for political consultant Roger Stone under contract during the 2016 campaign. During an appearance at the QAnon gathering For God & Country Patriot Roundup in Dallas last May, he boasted of having played a part in “the biggest political upset in modern-day political history.”

“We shocked ’em, caught ’em off guard,” Sullivan said. “We were able to reach out to all the key influencers in real-time with real-time information that when it mattered most, in the moment of influence. Able to hit ’em where it hurts, first, second, third. Able to amplify exactly what needs to be amplified at the moment of influence… pushed it out there, made sure the world knew about it. Change the narrative. Change the trajectory of the narrative. That’s what we do. This is an information war.”

In April, Stone’s lawyer sent Sullivan a letter ordering him to stop representing himself as “Roger Stone’s senior social media advisor.” In the letter, attorney Grant J. Smith said Sullivan had been fired for cause after “the use of your purported ‘proprietary technologies’ resulted in Roger Stone’s personal suspension from Twitter.” The letter also accused Sullivan of leaking his appearance to the Mueller investigation grand jury in 2018.

Following Sullivan’s grand jury appearance he began to align with the QAnon movement, and embraced the nickname “Wizard of Twitter.”

The HBO documentary Q: Into the Storm features a call with 8kun administrator Ron Watkins, in which Sullivan says, “If Q is trying to utilize or optimize abilities on Twitter, then we can make them better.”

In the film, Watkins tells filmmaker Cullen Hoback: “You know that Sullivan guy, Jason Sullivan? He finally, finally gave me access to that tool…. Yeah, yeah, he got banned from Twitter. So, he had to reboot it. And his reboot is being used by me now. And it’s a super tool. This tool is amazing. My account is the second most powerful Twitter account next to Trump.”

Watkins was actively involved in the effort to overturn the 2020 election. Introduced as “a large systems data analyst,” he was featured in the One America News special “Dominion-izing the Vote,” which promoted the false impression that Dominion Voting System allowed the election to be manipulated. Watkins provided a sworn declaration that was filed by attorney Sidney Powell in her federal lawsuit attempting to overturn the election result in Arizona.

And on Jan. 5 and 6, Watkins tweeted out links to a three-part series of articles by QAnon influencer Robert Cornero Jr. accusing Vice President Mike Pence and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of assorted treasonous misconduct, including murder and pedophilia. The false stories shared by Watkins were sourced to a discredited felon named Ryan Dark White.

Ron Watkins could not be reached for comment.

Sullivan was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was listed as a speaker at a rally hosted by Latinos for Trump near the Russell Senate Office Building that day. An archived website for the Freedom Rally shows Sullivan featured as a speaker alongside Latinos for Trump president Bianca Gracia, Oath Keepers general counsel Kellye SoRelle, Veterans for America First co-founder Joshua Macias, Bikers for Trump member RC Pittman and Keith and Kenny Lee of MAGA Drag the Interstate. Photos from the event show Sullivan speaking with Pittman and posing alongside Felisa Blazek, the woman who hosted the Dec. 30, 2020 conference call.

Tile for Latinos for Trump rally near the US Capitol that featured Jason SullivanScreengrab

The government’s prosecution of the Oath Keepers on seditious conspiracy charges has provided a window into members’ discussions around the time of the Dec. 30 conference call in which Sullivan mobilized Trump supporters to go to Washington, DC.

Stewart Rhodes, the Oath Keepers’ founder and one of 10 men facing sedition charges, warned a regional leader of the militia group that “we will have to do a bloody, massively bloody revolution against them” if Biden were to become president, according to his indictment. During the same interview, Rhodes reportedly urged Trump to use military force to prevent the lawful transfer of presidential power, while describing Jan. 6 as a “hard constitutional deadline.”

On Christmas Day, according to the indictment, Florida Oath Keepers leader Kelly Meggs told fellow members in an encrypted chat that when the joint session of Congress convened on Jan. 6, “We need to make those senators very uncomfortable with all of us being a few hundred feet away.”

Rhodes responded, according to the indictment: “I think Congress will screw [Trump] over. The only chance is if we scare the s***out of them and convince them it will be torches and pitchforks time if they don’t do the right thing. But I don’t think they will listen.”

The threat of violence on Jan. 6 was apparent even to some outside of the planning circles.

Olivia Troye, a former White House homeland security advisor to Vice President Pence, told MSNBC on Dec. 28, 2020: “Well, you know, I am actually very concerned that there will be violence on January 6th because the president himself is encouraging it. This is what he does. He tweets. He incites it. He gets his followers and supporters to behave in this manner. And these people think that they’re being patriotic because they are supporting Donald Trump.”

Judge Amit P. Mehta noted in an order allowing civil conspiracy lawsuits to go forward against Trump that the former president “would have known about the violence” that accompanied two rallies in DC that set the stage for Jan. 6, given that he tweeted about the preceding rallies. During the Nov. 14 and Dec. 12, 2020 rallies, members of the Proud Boys — five of whose members were indicted on Monday for seditious conspiracy — clashed with left-wing counter-protesters in downtown DC. And on Dec. 12, members of the Oath Keepers assisted 1st Amendment Praetorian in providing security for speakers.

“President Trump’s January 6 rally speech was akin to telling an excited mob that corn-dealers starve the poor in front of the corn-dealer’s home,” Mehta wrote in his ruling, which found that plaintiff lawmakers plausibly alleged that Trump, the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys national chairman Enrique Tarrio engaged in a civil conspiracy to prevent them from discharging their duties to certify Biden as the next president by means or force, intimidation or threats.

“He invited his supporters to Washington, DC, after telling them for months that corrupt and spineless politicians were to blame for stealing the election from them,” Mehta wrote, “retold that narrative when thousands of them assembled at the Ellipse; and directed them to march on the Capitol building — the metaphorical corn-dealer’s house — where those very politicians were at work to certify an election that he had lost.”