Former J6 advisor: The most important part of the Jan. 6 investigation isn't about Trump
Gage Skidmore.

This is part 2 in a 3-part series based on our exclusive interview with former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman who served as an advisor to the Jan. 6 committee. You can read the first installment here.

WASHINGTON, DC — Former President Donald Trump has remained the central focus of the special Jan. 6 committee’s investigation, but the true story of the insurrection is an expansive, interconnected web of elected and unelected Republicans who prize power more than any principles they’ve camouflaged their motives in over the years. That hidden threat to democracy has only grown stronger since last year’s failed insurrection, according to the findings of former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman.

After he served as a senior technical advisor to the special committee, he says the real, still untold story is of a major political party that’s been completely co-opted by online conspiracy theorists.

“The fact that you have so many GOP congressional members and former congressional members, as well as individuals from the cabinet and high-level GOP influencers, like Ginni Thomas, all pushing the same nonsense, it became quite clear that conspiracy theories had metastasized across the entire GOP infrastructure,” he told Raw Story this week.

Before serving in Congress, Riggleman was an Air Force intelligence officer who then co-founded a data analysis military contracting firm. Just as traditional firepower is no longer enough to win a military conflict, he argues, the special committee has relied on traditional investigative tools instead of evolving along with this unique contemporary threat.

“We're trying to solve today's problems tomorrow with yesterday's technology. We're in an information warfare battlespace,” Riggleman contends. “They've already changed their tactics. Deplatforming didn't work. They just go to other platforms. Social media has allowed for incredible coordination amongst multiple groups that are even loosely based, but they all have one objective – and that's to see President Trump back in office, just like on Jan. 6.”

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The findings of the special committee may very well lead to an indictment of former President Donald Trump. If that happens, Trump may go away, for a time, but Trumpism isn’t going anywhere, Riggleman says. The mythical world Trump presents and represents to his followers is now reality to millions of Republicans, including GOP congressional leaders and local leaders nationwide.

“So I just sort of laugh when I see people going, ‘Indict Trump now!’ Well, if you indict Trump, his polling numbers are going to go up. So good luck,” Riggleman said. “You should do what's right. If the facts go for an indictment, do it, because that's what we should do as Americans, but just realize that you're in a different timeline. It's a different time.”

As Riggleman argues in his new book “The Breach: The Untold Story of the Investigation into January 6th,” the committee failed to fully connect the dots that the data directed him to, including a mysterious call he made public that was placed from the White House to one of the Capitol rioters on Jan. 6, 2021. He fears the focus has remained too narrow.

“It's really not about the criminal side of it. I think the committee has done a great job on that,” Riggleman said. “The issue is that we haven't heard enough about the actual lunatics who knew what they were doing. If you think all these people are ignorant or stupid, you got another thing coming. A lot of these guys are fiercely intelligent, and they know how to manipulate their own digital battle spaces. So what we haven't heard enough of is, who is the second, third, and fourth tier?”

Ginni and Clarence Thomas may be most powerful GOP couple

Riggleman contends the special Jan. 6 committee has fallen short of its mandate to provide “recommendations for corrective measures” for future elections, which he says is essential.

Part of his job for the panel was pouring over the 2,319 text messages Trump’s former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows sent or received in the three months from Election Day 2020 through President Joe Biden’s 2021 inauguration. Riggleman argues Ginni Thomas’ messages to Meadows are the most important in the bunch.

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“What it shows is that QAnon conspiracy theories have saturated every level of the GOP,” Riggleman said. “Not only that, it shows that access really rules the day when it comes to the GOP, and the most powerful person in the Republican Party is Clarence Thomas, not Donald Trump. Let's be honest, he's a Supreme Court justice. He's there forever. Everybody else is transient.”

That batch of texts was brimming with conspiracy theories, from ItalyGate to claims Biden used Venezuelan voting machines that were manipulated at the behest of the country’s former president, Hugo Chávez, which is beyond alarming to Riggleman.

“So if you have Ginni Thomas, the wife of a Supreme Court justice, talking about strategies or forwarding emails from congressional offices or saying she's talking directly to Jared [Kushner]," Riggleman said. "It might not be illegal, but it certainly should scare the hell out of every American that somebody with that kind of access and power and proximity to a Supreme Court justice can be pushing that type of nonsense. The text messages validate that many elected officials believed it.”

Even as the committee conducted informative and illuminating interviews with a myriad of former Trump administration officials, Riggleman says the investigation should have been more technical.

“I looked at the data," Riggleman said. "Thousands of documents are great, but millions of lines of data are better. And so when you look at call detail records or open source intelligence research or you look at social media, those types of things can tell you a lot. And I think it can actually direct the way that you investigate more than bringing people in who lie, plead the fifth, or sometimes conveniently forget things.”

Get Riggleman Roger Stone

Riggleman remains convinced Roger Stone is the most important part of the entire Jan. 6 investigation.

“Not Donald Trump. Not Dan Scavino. Not Lin Wood. Not Rudy Giuliani. Not Sidney Powell. It's Stone,” Riggleman contended.

Roger Stone was the nexus between Trump’s White House and all the different rightwing groups that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to Riggleman.

“There's a reason he fought his call detail records [going public]. There's a reason he started the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement in 2016. There's a reason that he's directly linked to Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and others,” Riggleman said. “So you have Roger Stone who is also directly connected to Trump. He's directly connected to other individuals like [Steve] Bannon and Mike Flynn, so at some point your common sense meter merges with data analysis and you can identify the people that are most important.”

Trump may be the tip, but Riggleman has lingering questions about the bulk of the iceberg resting just under the surface.

“That's the thing, what about these lower levels, these second and third tiers? How about the people that worked for Alex Jones or worked for Mike Flynn or worked for Roger Stone? Or worked for Steve Bannon?” Riggleman asked. “How about all of this other stuff and how this message is actually getting out there? That's more important than Trump specifically, and that's where I sort of differ.”

As J6 committee investigated, Trump fanned QAnon

As the special Jan. 6 committee privately dug into the minutiae of what happened that terrible day and then slowly revealed its findings this summer, Trump ramped up his rallies ahead of this year’s midterms. His political reemergence has been accompanied by a new level of acceptance of conspiracy theories.

This year alone, Trump has donned a QAnon pin, embraced the group’s soundtrack, and helped it spread memes and other tropes, which Riggleman says has helped normalize the abnormal.

“When we're seeing these types of conspiracy theories and belief systems inundating the GOP, what you're seeing is that you have President Q,” the former Republican congressman said.

In this post-truth era, Riggleman says Trump knows connecting to his audience is all that matters.

“He's completely bought into this fantastical notion of apocalyptic conspiracy theories, because that's how you win. Does the former president actually believe this stuff? I don't know, and it actually, frankly, doesn't matter,” Riggleman said, “What matters is that the people that are working for him are pushing it, and the base largely believes it.”

Deplatforming the far-right after the Jan. 6 attack only led to them replatforming themselves, in part with the help of Trump’s own Truth Social and other start-up social media hubs created for the right. The battle may no longer be on Twitter, but it rages on, whether or not the political class in Washington even knows it or not. Which is why Riggleman bemoans the Trump-centric focus of the Jan. 6 committee.

“We need to look at algorithmic warfare principles. How we're being attacked and how we can actually look at hashtags and memes and see if we can actually identify them and where they're coming from,” Riggleman told Raw Story, “and how they're making their money.”

This is part 2 in a 3-part series based on our exclusive interview with former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman who served as an advisor to the Jan. 6 committee. You can read the first installment here.