The massive body of depositions and phone texts published by the January 6 Committee just before it disbanded systematically demolishes any notion that the attack on the US Capitol was spontaneous, or that the rally headlined by Donald Trump at the Ellipse was a stand-alone event distinct from the throngs of supporters that swarmed over the Capitol afterward.
“So, we’re going to go walk down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump told his supporters at the conclusion of his speech. “And we’re going to the Capitol, and we’re going to try — the Democrats are hopeless…. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones — because the strong ones don’t need our help — but we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Before Trump uttered those words, Caroline Wren, a fundraiser for the Trump 2020 reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee, escorted InfoWars host Alex Jones and Stop the Steal organizer Ali Alexander out of the VIP section at the Ellipse so they could lead a march to the Capitol, according to multiple accounts.
The testimony and contemporaneous communications of those who organized the Jan. 6 rally show that the movement from the Ellipse to the Capitol was far from just a spontaneous response to a galvanizing speech. Plans for a march led by influential figures within Trump’s orbit — and perhaps even by the president himself — were an ongoing topic of discussion among organizers, and were well understood at the White House at least four days before Jan. 6.
Dustin Stockton, an organizer for Women for America First — led by mother-daughter duo Amy Kremer and Kylie Kremer, told the committee during his deposition in December 2021 that long after Jan. 6 he had heard about Jones claiming that the Secret Service “to get him early.” It jogged his memory, he told committee investigators, reminding him that he remembered Wren and another event organizer “pulling that group, like, out of the VIP section a little early.” He added, “I remember us, like, taking note of them leaving, as kind of odd.”
While Jones’ and Alexander’s early departure from the Ellipse may have caught Stockton off guard, the notion that Trump himself would go to the Capitol, as he hinted in his speech but ultimately did not follow through on, would not have come as a surprise to Kylie Kremer, Stockton’s boss.
“This stays only between us,” Kremer told Mike Lindell, the MyPillow CEO, in a Jan. 4 text exchange that the committee obtained. “We are having a second stage at the Supreme Court again after the Ellipse. POTUS is going to have us march there/the Capitol.
“It cannot get out about the second stage because people will try and set another up and sabotage it,” Kremer continued. “It can also not get out about the march because I will be in trouble with the National Park Service and all the agencies, but POTUS is going to just call for it ‘unexpectedly.’”
The documents also reveal that Trump’s longtime confidant Roger Stone and his former national security director, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, were contemplated as candidates to lead the march to the Capitol, alongside Jones and Alexander.
Wren came to play a central role in the planning for the Jan. 6 rally after Publix heiress Julie Fancelli reached out to her to express an interest in funding the Jan. 6 rally, ultimately committing to spend up to $3 million. As the person with control of the purse strings, Wren was in a position to exercise influence over important decisions like who would speak and who would receive VIP passes for the rally. In late December, Wren began coordinating with Cindy Chafian, who had been responsible for securing permits for previous rallies organized by the Kremers, but split off to join Jones and Alexander’s more militant faction in the runup to Jan. 6.
“Hi Caroline. I just got a message from Kristin,” Chafian said in a Dec. 27 text to Wren. “I’m actually working with her already.”
Wren testified to the committee that she didn’t know Kristin Davis at the time, but would later learn that she was Stone’s “publicist.” Wren also told the committee that Davis informed her that Stone “was looking to fly private” to DC for the Jan. 6 rally “if I knew anyone.” Wren said she arranged for Stone to use her Fancelli’s plane to fly from south Florida to DC. Stone declined to answer the committee’s questions about the flight, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, but the committee obtained a flight itinerary that listed Stone and Davis as passengers that was billed to Wren’s consulting company.
In a video posted to his wife’s Instagram account six days after the attack on the Capitol, Stone reportedly said, “While I was supposed to speak at the Ellipse and lead a march from the Ellipse to the Capitol or speak at the Capitol, or at least allegedly was so, I decided I was not interested in doing any of those things.”
Stone later told Fox News host that he received a call on the house phone at the Willard hotel from two Secret Service agents who wanted to escort him to the Capitol on Jan. 6. Stone again invoked the Fifth Amendment to declined to answer questions from the committee, and he could not be reached for comment through his lawyer for this story.
A text from Jones’ security guard, Tim Enlow, to Wren also suggests an understanding that Stone would help lead the march to the Capitol. On the evening of Jan. 5, Enlow texted Wren about a call he had received from Joe Flynn, Michael Flynn’s younger brother.
“The General and his group need 6 VIP passes,” Enlow wrote. “He also wants to join Roger, Alex etc in leading the march to the Capitol.”
Text from Tim Enlow to Caroline Wren (US Congress)
Stone did not show up at the rally at the Ellipse, and expressed frustration in a text to Alexander that he was denied a “speaking spot” and that there was “no VIP entrance for any of my people.”
Wren testified that “Alex Jones’ expectation was that he and Roger Stone would lead a march from the Ellipse to their rally at the Capitol.”
Asked by a committee investigator to confirm that she escorted Alexander out of the VIP area at the Ellipse, Wren responded: “Yeah, because he was going to go with Alex. Roger Stone didn’t show up. And so, I asked Alex who, like, is there anyone else he’d want to, like, walk with, march with, whatever you want to call it, to go down to their event since Roger didn’t show up.”
According to Wren, Stone told her that he would like to march alongside Michael Flynn. Wren testified that she conveyed the request to Flynn, and he told her: “Hell, no. It’s freezing.”
Responding to a request for comment, Joe Flynn said in a phone text on Tuesday: “Anyone who believes anything Raw Story reports needs a frontal lobotomy.”
Texts exchanged among Wren, Stone, Enlow and Alexander throughout the afternoon of Jan. 6 reveal a real-time stream of information about Trump’s movements as well as conditions at the Capitol, as police lost control and rioters overtook the building.
“What’s the latest on when I go to set up?” Jones asked Wren at 12:27 p.m.
“Soon,” Wren replied.
Jones notified Wren that he needed “to hit the bathroom” on the way out.
“He’s about halfway,” Wren told Jones. “So 15-20 more mins then I’ll grab you.”
Wren told the committee she missed Trump’s call for his supporters to march to the Capitol because she was with Jones and Alexander.
“That was when I was walking Alex and Ali over to the perimeter and we stopped by the bathroom,” she said.
At 1:15 p.m., Alexander sent a text to group labeled “STS Management” that included at least five associates: “Get out early and get those golf carts down Pennsylvania ahead of the president.”
At 1:19 p.m., according to a text Alexander produced to the committee, he asked Wren: “Is POTUS walking? Can you give me an update every five minutes?”
“He is not,” Wren responded.
After leaving the Ellipse, Alexander texted Stone: “Get your ass to the US Capitol.” He added, “We have a stage & the presidents order.”
A note appended to Alexander’s production of the text to the committee explains that the text was sent while he was traveling to the Capitol.
“Alexander merely was urging Stone to join him in Lot 8 for the previously scheduled peaceful prayer rally,” the note reads. “Upon arriving to the Capitol area AFTER sending these two texts to Stone, Alexander saw chaos unfolding and, as a result, his planned peaceful prayer rally and protest never happened.”
About five minutes after Alexander’s text to Stone, court records indicate that two men led a crowd that included hundreds of Proud Boys past a fence line to a line of barricades manned by US Capitol police officers, who were quickly overrun.
“We are D escalating the front side of the capital,” Alexander reported to Wren at 1:56 p.m. “We are going to the southside, Senate side.”
“Ok KEEP THE PEACE,” Wren responded.
“There is no control on the front side,” Alexander reported at 1:58 p.m. “The police have retreated.”
“I think you should leave,” Wren advised. “This will come down on you hard.”
When the first rioters breached the Capitol grounds, Trump was still speaking at the Ellipse.
“He’s wrapping up 5-10 mins,” Wren reported to Enlow, Jones’ security guard. “He said ‘let’s walk down Pennsylvania.’”
“Ok,” Enlow replied. “Let me know when he departs please.”
Wren duly notified Enlow when Trump had departed the Ellipse in the presidential motorcade, adding, “Please please keep alex away from the violence at the Capitol.”
Wren could not be reached for comment for this story.
At 3:36 p.m., a friend lamented to Alexander: “The Capitol is a mess. Any chance we had of winning is gone. I am literally heartbroken.”
Alexander texted back: “POTUS is not ignorant of what his words would do.”
“He wanted this to happen???” the friend asked.
“I dunno but the anger of the people was never gonna go away without a legitimate result,” Alexander replied. “Wish it didn’t happen, but understand the people and I won’t denounce them.”
‘Are people going to the Capitol?’
The idea that there would be a march to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to coincide with Congress convening to certify the electoral vote was baked into early promotional messaging for the rally that materialized almost immediately after Trump’s infamous Dec. 19 “be there, will be wild” tweet.
Later that day, Kylie Kremer tweeted “The calvary is coming, Mr. President! JANUARY 6TH.” The tweet attached a graphic with the text “March for Trump” that advertised the website TrumpMarch.com. Trump himself retweeted the appeal on Jan. 1.
The contemporaneous emails and texts of rally organizers, coupled with their testimony to the committee, suggest Wren’s efforts to facilitate Jones and Alexander’s early departure from the Ellipse was in line with expectations shared among organizers and confirmed by Trump himself.
Taylor Budowich, who was brought in by Wren to help arrange for busing Trump supporters to DC on Jan. 6, told Wren in a phone text at 10:48 p.m. on Dec. 31: “POTUS needs to end his speech by saying something like, ‘Now go march on the capital. March to save America!’”
Budowich, who was employed as the spokesperson for Trump at the time that he gave his deposition in December 2021, claimed that organizers ultimately decided against a march to the Capitol.
Asked by a congressional investigator why he would say Trump should call on his supporters to do that, Budowich said, “Because, as I said, we were talking about a march through this process that was ultimately decided against.”
Wren confirmed to the committee that she had the same understanding.
“He’s just saying it didn’t seem like something crazy at the time, because we were still operating under this time like there was probably going to be some kind of march,” she testified.
By then, a feud between two separate camps of organizers had come to a head, with the Kremers and their allies maneuvering against Chafian to keep more controversial speakers like Jones, Alexander and Stone away from the main stage at the Ellipse where Trump would be speaking on Jan. 6. Katrina Pierson, senior advisor to the Trump re-election campaign who was enlisted into the effort by Wren, sided with the Kremers.
On Jan. 2, Pierson texted Mark Meadows, Trump’s chief of staff, and asked him for direction. That evening, they talked for seven minutes. After she expressed her concerns about the more controversial speakers tainting Trump were they allowed to share a stage with him, Pierson testified that Meadows told her: “So, why don’t you just take this over and make sure it doesn’t go bad.”
Meadows confirmed to her that he understood that Trump’s supporters would be going to the Capitol following the speech at the Ellipse, Pierson said.
“Yes,” she testified. “That is correct. When I gave him the lay of the land, told him where people were going to be speaking and that some people were going to the Capitol, yes, he agreed.”
Meadows received a subpoena, but failed to appear on two separate occasions in late 2021 to testify before the committee.
At 10:49 p.m. on Jan. 2, Pierson sent an email to Wren and Budowich, reporting, “Hey guys, I spent the better part of the day on the phone with these organizers, and was able to get a little guidance from the White House. Pierson’s email explained that she had color-coded some speakers as already being confirmed to speak on the day before the Ellipse rally, others who she suggested moving to Jan. 5 or a separate stage in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 6, and still others as not passing vetting or raising additional concerns. In the subsequent paragraphs, Pierson clearly noted that Trump was expected to call on his supporters to march to the Capitol.
“POTUS expectations are to have something intimate at the ellipse, and call on everyone to march to the capitol,” Pierson wrote. “This actually works out, because Ali’s group is already setting up at the Capitol, and SCOTUS is on the way.”
Email from Katrina Pierson to Caroline Wren and Taylor Budowich (US Congress)
On Jan. 4, with the Ellipse rally only two days away, Pierson was again hearing rumors about an effort to sneak controversial speakers onto the stage with Trump, and she reached out to Dan Scavino, the president’s social media director at the White House.
“You need to come and talk to him, and let him put this to bed,” Scavino said, according to Pierson. At the time, Pierson was spending the holidays in Texas, and she booked a flight that day to DC.
At 4:30 p.m., Pierson met Trump in the President’s dining room, off the Oval Office.
“He asked me, he says, ‘Are people going to the Capitol?’” Pierson told the committee. “And I said, ‘Yes, there are some people going to the Capitol. There is a permit for a stage at the Capitol.’ And he says, ‘Well, I should walk with the people.’”
During the meeting, Pierson testified, Trump had indicated to her that he was not familiar with Alexander, but asked her to speak with Scavino about him.
At 4:23 a.m. on Jan. 5, after returning from a rally with the president, Scavino texted Pierson: “Just got in from Georgia a couple hours ago. He brought up Ali. Just keep him on stage not associated with POTUS or main event, POTUS said.”
Jones would claim that his march to the Capitol was coordinated with the White House. Dismayed at a tweet that described Jones as “admitting the orders were coming from Donald Trump,” Budowich texted Pierson four days after the attack on the Capitol, commenting: “Sounds like what Caroline would tell him.”
Asked by a congressional investigator if she was “aware that Alex Jones has said publicly that he was talking with the White House about leading the march from the Ellipse to the Capitol,” Wren responded, “Right.”
When Jones and Alexander would make public statements suggesting that someone from the White House told them to go to the Capitol, Wren told congressional investigators that she “got the sense that they meant me.”
“And I didn’t work in the White House, and they knew that,” Wren said. “But I didn’t, like, go correct them after the fact.”