Donald Trump's closest allies are distancing themselves from a planned rally for imprisoned U.S. Capitol rioters that has Washington, D.C., police on edge.
The Sept. 18 rally organizers are calling for the release of the rioters they call "political prisoners," and the Metropolitan Police Department is on high alert against Proud Boys involvement and other possible street violence, but the upper ranks of Trumpworld deny any involvement, reported The Daily Beast.
"I hadn't heard [about it]," said a former senior aide to the Trump re-election campaign. "I think Jan. 6 defendants are being massively abused, for sure, but doubt I'd partake in any event."
Eight individuals who are close Trump associates, former White House officials or 2020 campaign aides told the website they hadn't heard of the rally until contacted for comment, and two sources said they aren't sure the twice-impeached one-term president had even been invited to the event organized by Matt Braynard, a former Trump 2016 aide who declined to comment on who would attend.
"I think that those types of conversations, if you understand, we keep those confidential for a good reason," Braynard told The Daily Beast. "Any kind of conference, any kind of conversation, anything of prominent individuals we've had, we're not going to comment on that."
Braynard, who briefly served as director of data and strategy early in the 2016 campaign and pushed baseless claims of voter fraud after the 2020 election, said he had invited the public on Twitter and through his mailing list, although he was hopeful that some big names may attend.
"We are working with elected officials to bring them to the event," he said. "I'm not going to name names except for one. We did in fact reach out to Jesse Jackson, but I understand he's suffering from COVID right now. So I mean, you know, prayers for him recovering from that. But other than that, we're going to keep our own counsel on the folks that we've reached out to."
Proud Boys members have promoted the event, including the New York-based founder of Citizens Against Political Persecution, which has held its own rallies in support of the insurrectionists, although Braynard hopes attendees show "politeness" and avoid clothing or signs with political branding.
"We were at a rally — we had one at the D.C. prison and somebody had hoisted a flag, a very large flag that was candidate -- and election-related," Braynard said, "and I politely asked him, 'We want to keep the focus on this day on the political prisoners, so would you mind maybe taking it down or swapping it out?' No argument."