Exclusive: How Trump's 'Big Lie' and 'Great Replacement' conspiracy theories are merging

The Tops supermarket massacre in Buffalo on May 14 brought the resumption of an awful sequence of terror attacks that appeared to have tapered off with the onset of the COVID pandemic, when lockdown interrupted mass gatherings of people.

The years 2018 and 2019 brought a horrific spate of such shootings, both in the United States and abroad, that were carried out by white men motivated by the false belief that white people are threatened with extinction, a baseless theory known as “Great Replacement.” The massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018 was carried out by a man who blamed Jews for resettling refugees in the United States. The man who gunned down Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in March 2019 said in a manifesto that he wanted to show people he called “invaders” that “our lands will never be their lands.”

The perpetrator of the Congregation Chabad synagogue shooting a month later in Poway, Calif. apparently claimed to have been “inspired” by the Christchurch shooting. Then, in August 2019, a 21-year-old man drove 658 miles from the suburbs of Dallas to El Paso and opened fire in a crowded Walmart. In his manifesto, the shooter justified the deaths of 23 people, mostly Latino, as “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas,” and lamented that “the Democrat party will own America” through “pandering heavily to the Hispanic voting bloc.”

The attack carried out last weekend by an 18-year-old white man who drove 208 miles from his home in rural New York state to a grocery store in a Black community in Buffalo was predictable, but his rationale was not original; the shooter’s manifesto included passages lifted wholesale from the Christchurch document.

The social media reaction on the far right to the Buffalo shooting reveals that election denial narratives have become increasingly intertwined with “Great Replacement” promotion since Jan. 6, 2021. Notably, Fox News host Tucker Carlson’s increasingly embraced “Great Replacement” theory, alongside Republican lawmakers Elise Stefanik and Matt Gaetz, beginning in 2021, a time when the far right and GOP were retrenching after the failed insurrection. Manufactured hysteria over “critical race theory” and transgender students also provided new lines of attack against progressive efforts to promote racial and gender equity in recent years.

Posts by Ryan Sanchez, a southern California white supremacist who was active in the “Stop the Steal” protests at Huntington Beach in late 2020, are representative of how extremists in the un-sanitized digital space on Telegram received news of the Buffalo shooting over the weekend. Like his mainstream GOP counterparts, Sanchez amplified “Great Replacement” theory while at the same time deflecting responsibility.

On Sunday, Sanchez posted a news item about a large group of migrants crossing into Texas, but then shifted into damage control in response to the Buffalo shooting by sharing an article that linked to the shooter’s manifesto while at the same time arguing that the attack was counter-productive for the movement. Other posts followed, including a forward from a Proud Boy-linked account defending a white supremacist polemicist whom they claimed was falsely accused of generating a meme used in the shooter’s manifesto, and an argument by Sanchez that President Biden was cynically exploiting the situation by traveling to Buffalo to highlight the attack.

On Monday, Sanchez switched back to posts about border crossings, using the words “invasion” and “invader.” One post explicitly promoted vigilante action, with Sanchez writing that he didn’t think “it would be hard to stop them from crossing, you’d just be facing one invader at a time,” while invoking an ancient Greek battle.

Commenters responded in the thread with explicit threats of violence, including “machine gun fire.”

Another commenter expounded on a baseless conspiracy theory based on white conservative anxieties that closely echoes arguments made in the past by both Carlson and the El Paso shooter.

“Democrats have to import new voters who rely on welfare,” the commenter wrote. “This is because they sterilize themselves & kill many of their own children in the womb. This is the only hope they have at appearing to have any kind of majority consensus. So that when they steal an election they can point to all of their new voters as proof that they didn’t cheat.”

By mid-day on Tuesday, Sanchez had removed the comments.

The link between the baseless assertion that the 2020 election was stolen and the false claim that white people are being replaced is not as tenuous as one might think, according to Samantha Kutner, a researcher who is working on a book about the Proud Boys.

“My grandfather, who passed away last year, he called me when 9/11 happened and he called me on January 6th,” Kutner told Raw Story. “He said, ‘Make no mistake, this was an effort to maintain white supremacy.’ If you think about January 6th from the context of ‘Great Replacement,’ the Proud Boys who stormed the Capitol weren’t just fighting Democrats to halt the electoral process. They genuinely believe Democrats are going to push for immigration policies that disempower white men.”

Nick Fuentes, a leader of the America First or “Groyper” movement, brought explicitly white nationalist messaging into the election denial movement in late 2020. His rhetoric expanded on the baseless claim that the Democrats were stealing the election by also appealing to anxiety among white people who feel that they are losing their country.

During a “Stop the Steal” rally in Atlanta on Nov. 20, 2020, Fuentes railed that communities were once “safe,” “orderly,” “cohesive” and “prosperous” have “been stolen from us” and that globalists are “bringing the Third World here” from Mexico, China and India.

Fuentes, who used his Telegram channel to explicitly promote “Great Replacement” following news of the Buffalo shooting, has cultivated relationships with the GOP leaders since Jan. 6. Rep. Paul Gosar, a prominent election denier from Arizona, spoke at Fuentes’ America First Political Action Conference in 2021. Earlier this year, Gosar returned to the event, along with Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McEachin and Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers.

After calling for the execution of political enemies, Rogers explicitly endorsed Fuentes and his followers at the conference, saying, “Nick and the other patriots in attendance at AFPAC: Keep doing what you’re doing what you are doing.”

While providing legitimacy and platform to Fuentes, Rogers and other GOP allies, alongside Carlson, are effectively mainstreaming extremism.

Hours after the massacre, Rogers posted on Gab and Telegram: “Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo.”

While deflecting blame from far-right politicians and media figures promoting “Great Replacement,” Rogers’ post implies the shooting was a false flag by a federal asset to create justification for a law enforcement crackdown on conservatives.

“It really does appear that pro-insurrection conservatives seem to be getting news from InfoWars, a hub for conspiracy theories,” Kutner said. “It’s also convenient for them, similar to the false claims after January 6th that antifascists were the real aggressors who stormed the Capitol. It’s all to deflect responsibility.”

Exclusive: Latino and Black candidates targeted by racists in NC town where racism still 'runs thick'

As a 23-year-old Latino man who is the son of a Panamanian immigrant, Nick Gallardo expected some resistance when he announced his candidacy for mayor of Siler City, a rural town of 8,159 people in North Carolina’s central Piedmont region.

But he was caught off guard by the level of vicious hatred that escalated as the primary election season progressed: more than 100 text messages, including his photo with a noose drawn around his neck and an image of a mock lynching, and crudely sexual text messages and at least one pornographic image. Beyond digital harassment, Gallardo, his mother and friends have been tailed in their vehicles.

“To be honest with you, through the county, there were some issues that have happened,” Gallardo told Raw Story. “I wouldn’t think I would be directly attacked because of my ethnicity and sexuality; I have a girlfriend. I don’t understand why someone would draw a noose around my neck. It’s upsetting for me, but it also affects my family.”

Siler City sits at the western end of Chatham County. Although Chatham is trending Democratic due to the growth of the Raleigh suburbs in the east, the western part of the county remains more rural and conservative. Underpinning its current political divisions, Chatham County has struggled with historical and ongoing racial tension. In 1885, a white mob lynched a Black couple, Jerry Finch and Harriet Finch, and in 1921, a white mob kidnapped a 16-year-old Black boy named Eugene Daniel who was accused of standing in a white girl’s bedroom. After dragging him out of the jail, members of the mob hanged Daniel with a chain and fatally shot him, with the collusion of the county sheriff.

The county removed a Confederate monument that stood in front of the historic courthouse in 2019. Public deliberation over the monument drew dozens of neo-Confederate activists who erected Confederate flags across the street from a middle school named for George Moses Horton, a formerly enslaved person who was the first Black man to publish a book in the South. Tensions between the neo-Confederates and antiracist counter-protesters resulted in repeated clashes in the county seat of Pittsboro in late 2019 and early 2020.

READ: Amy Duggar slams her 'delusional' family

More recently, a parent disclosed that white students at a middle school in Chatham County held a mock slave auction.

While grappling with a history of Jim Crow racial oppression and current tensions between its urban and rural constituencies, Chatham County has at the same time been transformed in recent decades by rapid growth in its Hispanic population, driven in part by jobs at meat processing plants in and around Siler City, including Mountaire Farms.

If Gallardo wins his race, he will become the state’s first Latino mayor and the youngest Latino mayor in the country.

Hispanics make up 46 percent of Siler City’s population, with non-Hispanic whites accounting for 26.2 percent and non-Hispanic Blacks comprising 19.9 percent, according to the latest Census numbers. Almost half of the town’s residents speak a language other than English at home, and more than a quarter are fluent in Spanish.

“There’s never been any Hispanic representation in this area,” Gallardo said. “For the majority to be treated as if they’re the minority needs to be addressed. That’s why I’m running.”

As part of a “Unity” slate, Gallardo and allied candidates seeking positions on the town board who have embraced a shared platform calling for racial equity, a plan to recruit and retain bilingual town employees, hiring a Spanish-language access coordinator, participatory budgeting, and developing resources to help orient new residents to local institutions.

“They’re a very diverse group — African-American, Hispanic, white, but it seems like they’ve been getting racial slurs and homophobic slurs,” said Kristen Picot.

READ: 'Traumatizing': HBCU lacrosse coach reacts to new evidence debunking sheriff's claims

Picot is the executive director of StartUp Siler, a major initiative of CJGRPINC Foundation Inc. that helps early-stage entrepreneurs in Siler City "reach their idea's potential." Two of Picot’s brothers are also part of the “Unity” slate.

“Even at my job, I have had someone come in and call me the C-word,” Picot said. “My boss has been called an ‘uppity’ N-word. It’s the old patriarchy and racism that runs thick. It’s been escalating.”

Since the beginning of the campaign, candidates on the “Unity” slate, along with their families and associates have been subjected to harassment, including being followed in their vehicles and targeted in person.

Gallardo said one time someone followed him and threw coffee at his car. About a month ago, Picot said someone tailed her while she was driving home.

A couple of weeks ago, Gallardo said, his mother came to visit and have dinner in Siler City. When she was driving back to her home in another county, Gallardo said, his mother told him a car tailed her, and even when she slowed down to 30 mph on a highway with a 65-mph speed limit, the other car stayed behind her.

READ: ‘Having sex with women is gay’: White nationalist praises involuntary celibacy

A couple of days later, Gallardo said he received a text from an anonymous sender asking, “Who’s this lady coming into town,” while identifying the color and make of her car.

“I can take that on; I know some people aren’t going to like me,” Gallardo said. “When it comes to family members being put in danger, that’s not okay.”

Gallardo said over the course of the campaign he has received more than 100 text messages from different senders, although he assumes they’re part of the same group.

When Gallardo received the endorsement of Albert Reddick, an African-American pastor who is running for Chatham County Board of Commissioners, the text messages escalated sharply.

On May 8, someone using a phone with a 984 area code sent Gallardo a string of violent and degrading texts and images. One depicts an effigy in blackface hanging from a noose next to a white Klan robe draped over a wireframe.

The text underneath the photo uses a derogatory term for Black people to describe a person the sender says is “behind” Gallardo” — an apparent reference to Reddick — adding, “I hope y’all get AIDS and die.”

The sender also texted Gallardo a photo pulled from Reddick’s campaign website that mocked the African-American candidate using another racial slur for wearing a mask during the COVID pandemic.

The same string of texts also includes a screengrab from Gallardo’s website with a noose drawn around his neck and a penis drawn next to his mouth, accompanied by the text, “That’s what you like huh.”

The violent and homophobic content of the message assumes the sexual orientation of Gallardo, who has a girlfriend.

Gallardo received a string of texts from the same sender that include crude interrogations about members of the “Unity” slate, including, “Or is your whole Unity ticket one big fag orgy!”

The threats are culminating as North Carolina voters go to the polls for the final day of early voting on Saturday before May 17, which is North Carolina's primary and also the delayed municipal election for Siler City.

Picot said she shared the texts with Reddick so that he could be apprised of his safety. Reddick, in turn, reported the threats to Siler City police Chief Mike Wagner on Thursday. He said the chief assured him the matter is being investigated.

Picot said the police called her on the same day and confirmed they had received Reddick’s complaint. But, as of Friday, Gallardo said the police have not reached out to him.

“I haven’t received a phone call about the police report,” he said. “I don’t know what to think.”

He added that he didn’t report the threats himself because he didn’t believe it would make any difference.

“It’s something that really bothered me,” Gallardo said. “I don’t want to say I felt hopeless. I felt like nothing was going to be done.”

Despite his doubt that the harassers will be held accountable, Gallardo said the threats haven’t dampened his confidence in his ability to connect with voters in Siler City. He said he’s knocked on voters’ doors every day of early voting.

“Not everybody is going to vote for me,” he said. “The majority of the people are very accepting. We have issues with clean water and flooding — so many issues. It doesn’t matter who’s coming to the door, Hispanic or not, they love that…. This county can do great things, I truly believe that.”

Mixed with his desire to promote economic progress, Gallardo acknowledged a sobering awareness of the deep racial division that troubles Chatham County.

“All of us have gotten some harassment, but I have experienced quite a bit, I think it’s fair to say,” Gallardo said. “How much worse does it get than putting a noose around your neck? It feels like we haven’t progressed since the fifties or the sixties.”

‘Your words did matter’: Insider calls on Lin Wood to take responsibility for inflammatory tweets on Jan. 6

Lin Wood, a high-profile lawyer involved in the litigation seeking to overturn the 2020 election who unleashed a series of incendiary tweets leveling accusations of treason at Vice President Mike Pence, has vehemently insisted that his social media activity bears no connection with the attack on the US Capitol.

Wood received some pushback from Patrick Bergy, a former military contractor who is the primary source for the “ShadowGate” conspiracy theory, during Bergy’s podcast on Tuesday evening. Bergy was embedded with a group known as “Team America” in Washington, DC in late 2020 and early 2021 that worked to supply information geared towards overturning the election to the attorneys, including Wood, who were litigating the cases.

During his podcast on Tuesday evening, Bergy publicly responded to a statement by Wood to Raw Story, which was quoted in a recent story about his tweets.

Bergy read Wood’s statement aloud on his Twitch stream on Tuesday evening: “Please identify credible witnesses who state that they were inflamed by social media. You cannot.”

Then, Bergy responded: “I can.”

Bergy recalled being at the rally at the Ellipse that was headlined by President Trump and being greeted by Trump supporters who recognized him from the “ShadowGate” documentary, which was produced by former InfoWars correspondent Millie Weaver.

“These people who were coming up to and would recognize me were all of the people who have been deeply and did deeply follow — they were all the people who are entrenched in this,” Bergy said. “I can tell you without question, as someone who you could easily argue as a subject matter expert in social-media psychological warfare, that what he was doing was, in fact, whether intentional or unintentional being used by others in a tactical and coordinated fashion to help create what ended up being the riots on January 6th.

“Now, to what extent Lin Wood would have any knowledge of that I don’t know or can’t say,” Bergy added. “I’m kind of split on it the way he’s treated me. But I can say as a subject matter expert in this: ‘Yeah, Lin, your words did matter. Your words do matter.”

Wood insisted in an interview with Raw Story on Thursday that he “didn’t have anything to do with January 6th.”

“I’ve told you my tweets were patriotic,” he said. “I told you that I felt that Mike Pence — based on information given to me by Jon McGreevey, if it’s true — may have been involved in an act of treason in 2017. I have not made any comments about Mike Pence’s involvement in January 6th. So, I thought that on January 6th the election vote would not be certified and we would take our nation back. Because I feel like the election was illegal and had a multitude of irregularities in it. There’s nothing wrong with me feeling that way and expressing it. It’s First Amendment protected. I didn’t ask anyone to do anything.”

Patrick Bergy asserts that Lin Wood's tweet contributed to violence on Jan. 6 youtu.be

Bergy served as a signal support systems specialist in the US Army for seven months in 2007, including deployment to Afghanistan. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, Bergy worked on a classified operation in Iraq. In September 2008, he received a letter of recommendation from Maj. Bradford M. Burris, chief of the Interactive Internet Activities Branch in Baghdad, praising Bergy as someone who “possesses and exudes the highest levels of professionalism, technical competence, organizational management skills and critical thinking skills that I have seen in the twelve years that I have served as a member of the United States Army.” Bergy told Raw Story that one component of the project was utilizing information operations to unite Sunnis and Shias in opposition to al-Qaida in Iraq.

“Other people were working behind the scenes to amplify the things [Wood] was saying that did end up getting people ginned up and riled up to where they go into Congress and smash in the doors,” Bergy told Raw Story. “I’m saying that as a subject-matter expert in psychological warfare. That’s [Information Operations] 101. You’re targeting a specific group of individuals. You’re providing them with dubious information that instills fear that they’re about to lose the thing they love the most — our country, raising our hand and swearing the Pledge of Allegiance. These are patriots that would have given their lives, and some have fought overseas for our country. Lin Wood coming out and saying, ‘These people are trying to steal this country from you,’ that’s what contributed to the success of that operation.”

Wood noted in a phone interview with Raw Story that the Delaware Supreme Court issued an opinion in January that overturned a decision by a local judge to revoke an order allowing Wood to represent a client in defamation lawsuit in the state.

“The Delaware Supreme Court took the same — or some of the tweets you’re referring to — where a judge had ruled that I had somehow likely inspired January 6th — the Supreme Court of Delaware in a 5-0 decision said that the tweets don’t support the finding of the Delaware judge,” Wood told Raw Story. “So, a court has recognized that there’s no connection between my social media tweets and January the 6th.”

The state Supreme Court ruling faulted the local judge for linking Wood to “the traumatic events of January 6” without presenting any evidence or allowing Wood to respond. The Supreme Court ruled that the local judge’s finding that Wood’s tweets “incited the riots” was not justified considering the scope of the court action to determine whether Wood should be allowed to act as counsel in the case and considering the judicial record.

In a separate case, as previously reported by Raw Story, a federal judge in Michigan found that Wood and other attorneys listed as plaintiff’s co-counsel in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election “helped mold the predetermined narrative about election fraud by lodging this federal lawsuit based on evidence that they actively refused to investigate or question with the requisite level of professional skepticism — and this refusal was to ensure that the evidence conformed with the predetermined narrative (a narrative that has had dangerous and violent consequences).”

In his comments to Raw Story, Wood also denied responsibility for at least one of the tweets cited in previous reporting and suggested they might have come from a “fake” account. Wood’s Twitter account was suspended after Jan. 6, but his archived tweets under his username @LLinWood were retrieved by Raw Story from the Internet Archive.

Wood acknowledged that he has spoken to Bergy, but said he didn’t understand what he was saying.

“He’s been calling me, texting me for a period of time, and I’m just not interested in dealing with him,” Wood said. “People try to drag me into stuff sometimes, and I just have no desire sometimes to be drug into it.”

Bergy arrived in Washington, DC on Nov. 15, 2020, joining former InfoWars correspondent Millie Weaver and her partner Gavin Wince, along with Terpsehore Maras, who submitted a declaration that was used by Sidney Powell in two lawsuits filed by Sidney Powell that listed Wood as co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

Bergy described himself — along with Weaver and Wince — during his podcast on Tuesday as a “guest” of Patrick Byrne, who provided significant financing for the effort to overturn the election. Bergy has previously said that Byrne paid for his hotel for at least part of the time he was in Arlington, Va. working on election-related matters.

Bergy told Raw Story he sent an email to Powell to alert her to his concerns about “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander after Powell, Alexander and Wood appeared together at a Dec. 2, 2020 rally in Alpharetta, Ga. Powell, according to Bergy, responded succinctly: “Thank you for letting me know. Neither me nor Lin Wood were aware of that.”

Bergy said he also received a response from Wood when he raised a concern about his association with Alexander, and that Wood responded in writing that “the only time he had heard of or known” of Alexander was when Alexander introduced him to Nick Sandmann, the Kentucky teenager who is suing multiple media outlets for defamation related to their reporting on an interaction between him and a Native American man at the National Mall in 2019. Sandmann fired Wood from his legal team last year.

Last December, Wood wrote on his Telegram channel about having “received warnings tonight from several friends who tell me that a man named Patrick Bergy is posting threats of harm to me online. Apparently, this person Bergy has said that he is traveling to my home to harm me.” Wood mentioned in his message that his “security team is on heightened alert” and that he had three pit bulls on his property.

Shortly afterwards, he posted an update: “I spoke with Patrick Bergy. He struck me as a polite man who does not pose any threat to me. I apologize to him for inferences to the contrary that I received from third parties. Always better to be safe than sorry. My safety was not threatened by Patrick.”

Bergy has said that in the days leading up to Jan. 6, his primary objective was trying to get people to read his affidavit and a qui tam complaint he had filed in federal court arguing that psychological warfare weapons were being used to influence US elections.

“While all that was happening, I was in Washington, DC,” Bergy said on his podcast. “I was doing the fly-on-the-wall thing, and I was there as a guest of Patrick Byrne — Millie, Gavin. As all of this is going on, I’m watching, and you can ask anyone, I was not participating. In fact, many people — Millie, Gavin, Tore, everyone has openly claimed, ‘Oh, he didn’t do nothing, he wasn’t doing nothing.’ I’ve openly claimed that. I was there observing.”

Referencing Wood’s tweets on Jan. 6, Bergy said, “Science tells us in the psy-op community that doing and targeting exactly as I witnessed what happened on January 6th involving the people that you, with over a million followers were engaging with, legitimately was part of what resulted in the deaths of Ashli Babbitt and others. I’m not gonna sugar-coat that.

“I’m not necessarily going to say that that’s like a sin or — but, no, you gotta own these things Lin,” Bergy continued. “Your actions caused a lot of people a lot of pain. I’ve personally never witnessed Lin Wood honestly and with sincerity and humbleness acknowledge his responsibility.”

Outlandish claims about Pence circulated on Jan. 6 came from a familiar source—a Seth Rich conspiracy theory

Beginning late into the night of Jan. 5, 2021 and continuing through the middle of the next day, as President Trump was speaking the Ellipse and Congress was preparing to certify the electoral vote, two high-profile influencers active in the effort to overturn the election unleashed a torrent of tweets resonant with the sense of betrayal and anger that the president’s supporters were feeling.

Lin Wood was an attorney involved in the legal challenges seeking to overturn the election and someone with a Twitter account whose reach among election deniers was exceeded only by the president himself. Ron Watkins was a former administrator for 8kun, an anonymous online forum notorious for circulating conspiracy theories, and key figure in the QAnon movement. In the hours and days leading up to the assault on the US Capitol, the two men worked in tandem on Twitter to promote a narrative of massive government betrayal that specifically homed in on Vice President Mike Pence as a “traitor” as Trump told his followers: “All Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify and we become president and you are the happiest people.”

Wood’s increasingly inflammatory and completely baseless claims that Pence was a “traitor,” “communist sympathizer” and “child molester” reached a crescendo just as Trump was taking the stage at the Ellipse, with digital undergirding from Watkins.

Wood said in a statement to Raw Story that any notion that his statements could be expected to inflame Trump supporters angry about the outcome of the election should be considered “errant nonsense and propaganda.”

READ: OAN forced to clear the names of Georgia election officials it smeared as part of lawsuit settlement

The claims promoted by Wood and Watkins, which also included a call for the arrest of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for “accessory to murder” — also completely baseless — were drawn from a federal felon in Maryland who had spun an increasingly elaborate web of conspiracy theories. Ryan Dark White aka Jonathan McGreevey earned Wood’s open admiration while tweeting under the username @Johnheretohelp in late 2020.

Wood’s elaborate claims about government betrayal, which focused with precise fury on Pence, drew a loose connection to a dubious story spun by White, who is currently running for US Senate from Maryland, that linked Rosenstein to the 2016 murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich, who became an object of obsession for a host of conspiracy theorists seeking to deflect responsibility from the Russian hackers who illegally accessed emails and leaked them to WikiLeaks.

The apparently coordinated campaign to elevate White’s claims in the hours before Congress was scheduled to meet and certify the electoral vote proceeded despite a warning from Matt Couch, a conspiracy theorist who was also actively involved in the effort to mobilize Trump supporters on Jan. 6, 2021. Among the legions of influencers and operatives promoting the claim that the election had been stolen and rallying Trump supporters to come to Washington, DC on Jan. 6, Couch was arguably in the best position to know White’s background and credibility.

Tweet published by Lin Wood at 9:59 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2021Screengrab of tweet retrieved from Internet Archive

Lin Wood’s tweet at 9:59 p.m. on Jan. 5 would likely look random to outsiders and even to the fans who avidly followed his account. It was a screenshot from a news article about two men with Spanish surnames who had been shot to death in a parking lot at a shopping center in South Carolina in July 2016.

But those with insider knowledge of White’s conspiracy theories would know exactly what its relevance was.

The next morning, at about 6:16 a.m., Couch reshared Wood’s tweet with the screenshot of the article about the South Carolina double homicide, while adding his own text.

READ: New texts reveal how deeply involved the Oath Keepers were in the January 6th insurrection

“Folks, I have had my life destroyed investigating the Seth Rich murder,” Couch wrote. “Lin Wood is someone I consider a friend and great Patriot. I know who gave him this information and there is ZERO EVIDENCE that this is related to Seth, or proof. We do not believe MS-13 was involved at all.”

Couch quickly fired off a follow-up tweet in which he tagged Wood and Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock.com CEO who was financing a legal and public relations campaign aimed at overturning the election.

“My friend @LLinWood as well as my new friend @PatrickByrne can meet with me anytime to get the truth in this investigation from my Attorneys and me,” Couch offered. “I’m in DC all week, and I’ll make myself available with my team who’s on the ground with me at ANY time they’d like to discuss.”

Wood told Raw Story that he did not see Couch’s tweets, adding, “I had 1.2 million followers on Twitter at the time and it was not possible for me to keep up with all of my tweets which were retweeted or by whom or all the replies.”

The screenshot from the article about the South Carolina double homicide that Wood tweeted is identical to a news article printout on the seventh page of a 920-page sheaf of documents, which has been reviewed by Raw Story. A sticky note on one of the pages preceding six pages devoted to the double homicide reads, “Info on murdered MS-13 members. This happened day after Seth Rich killed.”

Wood told Raw Story he doesn’t recall receiving the document.

READ: Insiders flagged credibility problems for 'key witness' in lawsuits filed to overturn 2020 election

The first page of the 920-page sheaf includes a scanned business card for Frank T. Whalen, a private investigator in New York City.

“If you’re trying to draw a nexus between this and January 6th, you’re going in the wrong direction,” Whalen said. “You’re way off base.” He added, “This stuff was sent way long before then.” Whalen also said he doesn't know how Wood obtained the materials.

"I don't know directly, no," he said.

A sticky note on the first page, apparently written by Whalen, suggests that the materials were originally assembled for Tom Fitton, president of the conservative activist group Judicial Watch. “Info sent to Tom Fitton spells out how everything is connected from Ryan White’s info,” the note reads. “Fitton was contacted after conferring with Ms. Sidney Powell.”

The three-page letter from Whalen to Fitton is dated May 30, 2019. By June 2019, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn had retained Powell as counsel to represent him in his federal criminal case for allegedly lying to the FBI. The previous fall, Powell had attended a conference in Dallas to drum up support for Flynn and build a public case that he was being unfairly prosecuted. Among other guest speakers were Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes, who now faces a charge of seditious conspiracy for his role in the attack on the US Capitol; and Scott Bennett, a former military contractor who joined “Team America” in Washington DC in November 2020 to perform “election analytics” while working in concert with Powell and Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney.

Wood, who is currently feuding with Powell, recently posted a screengrab from an October 2019 text message exchanged between White and Powell.

“John, do not use my name as any kind of verification,” Powell wrote to White, according the screengrab shared by Wood. “I have not reviewed anything and I have to be very careful with everything.”

Later, as rioters overwhelmed the US Capitol, Wood would allude to his knowledge of Whalen’s correspondence with the Judicial Watch president, tweeting a demand that Fitton “release the letter you received regarding the murder of Seth Rich” and “explain why you did not expose the TRUTH.”

Tweet published by Lin Wood on Jan. 6, 2021Screengrab of tweet retrieved from Internet Archive

‘He’s willing to testify’

In April 2018, White sat for a videotaped interview in Baltimore with Matt Couch, Frank Whalen and an attorney named Ty Clevenger. White told the men that Rod Rosenstein, who was the US attorney for the Maryland district at the time he had been prosecuted for possession of ammunition by a prohibited person and healthcare fraud, had been running a “dirty trick team.” Rosenstein was promoted to deputy attorney general in April 2017 while White was serving his sentence at FCI Allenwood in White Deer, Pa.

White also told the men that a DEA special agent — the same individual, as it happened, who was involved in an earlier bust on state charges of narcotics possession in 2009 — was Rosenstein’s “enforcer.”

READ: Exclusive: White House aide relayed information from Giuliani research team to Trump in effort to overturn 2020 election

White claimed during the interview that Seth Rich’s assailants took a “flash drive” from him. The assertion was tantamount to dynamite for the host of right-wing conspiracy theorists pushing against mainstream press stories about the involvement of Russian agents in the Democratic National Committee breach; those press accounts would be vindicated three months later when a federal grand jury indicted 12 officials in a unit of the Russian intelligence agency GRU for hacking into the computer network at the DNC and stealing emails.

Around the time of the indictments, White spoke as a “witness” using the alias “Luke” at a press conference hosted by lobbyist Jack Burkman. Frank Whalen also attended the press conference.

Couch did not attend, explaining to his followers that he was still recuperating from a recent hospitalization, but he vouched for White in a podcast that immediately followed.

In contrast with his later pronouncement on Jan. 6, 2021 that there was “zero evidence” White’s claims had anything to do with Seth Rich’s murder, Couch told his followers in July 2018: “He’s willing to testify. He’s willing to go to the Department of Justice. He’s willing to go to the House Intelligence [Committee]. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get the truth out on what he knows. It’s now on our congressional members. And it’s now on members of the Department of Justice to step forward and do something about this.”

Responding to one his followers who posed a message in the chat, Couch said, “No word from House Intel at all.” His response implies that the House Intelligence Committee, then chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), had not expressed interest in hearing from White.

Clevenger, the attorney who took part in the April 2018 interview with White, told Raw Story in unequivocal terms that White’s claims are not credible.

“What a fraud,” he said. “I wouldn’t trust that guy further than I could throw him.

“Nothing about this guy’s story checked out,” he added. “I don’t know if he’s a habitual liar or a pathological liar, but he’s a prolific liar.”

White could not be reached for comment for this story.

In his podcast in July 2018, Couch suggested his life was in danger because of the information he had received from White and other sources, and that he was sharing “video depositions” with trusted friends as an insurance policy. Among them was Joe Biggs, who had recently worked as a correspondent for the conspiracy theory hub InfoWars, which is headed by Alex Jones. Biggs is currently in jail facing a federal conspiracy charge as part of a cohort of Proud Boys leaders involved in the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol.

“So, if something happens to me or something happens to my team, that information and all these video depositions, everything will be released in its entirety,” Couch said. “Joe Biggs is my boy. He’s getting a copy of it.”

‘The earth may just shatter from the magnitude of the info’

On the eve of the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol, around the time that Lin Wood issued his unexplained tweet referencing the double murder of the purported MS-13 members in South Carolina, Ron Watkins, the QANon influencer, began stoking interest in what he promised would be a stunning disclosure.

Tweet published by Ron Watkins at 9:38 p.m. on Jan. 5, 2021.Screengrab of tweet retrieved from Internet Archive

“MOAB MOAB MOAB,” he tweeted cryptically at 9:38 p.m. on Jan. 5. “Three. Soon.”

“Loading up MOAB,” he wrote at 9:55. “1/3.”

Again, around 11:26 p.m., Watkins, who was not in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, primed his followers.

“Hope everyone is staying safe out there in DC,” Watkins tweeted. “Am currently working on the biggest drop of my life. Not sure if I will be able to get it out tonight or not, but doing my best to stay the course. If I get it out tonight, the earth may just shatter from the magnitude of the info.”

Meanwhile, a story entitled “At the highest levels” would be posted in three installments in the early morning hours of Jan. 6. The author was Neon Revolt, another well-known QAnon influencer, who would later be outed as Robert Cornero Jr., a failed screenwriter.

Foreshadowing Pence’s refusal to intervene in the electoral count by setting aside the Biden votes from six swing states, the author promised to “reveal corruption, and contempt for the American people at the highest levels,” while insisting that “the future of the Republic now hangs in the balance.”

Directly addressing the Trump supporters expected to assemble in the hours ahead, the author wrote, “I also sincerely hope that everyone Marching and demonstrating in DC today takes the time to read this and inform everyone around them about this series, as you will not know what to do unless you read them.”

The article then pivoted to the Seth Rich murder hoax. It was illustrated by the sixth page from the 920-page dossier, a printout from a website memorializing the two men fatally shot in South Carolina in the summer of 2016.

Part 2 further confirmed White as the source of the extraordinary claims of government betrayal in the series by linking to a memorandum by a federal judge declining White’s motion to vacate his conviction.

“And yes, this is the same case Lin Wood referenced on Twitter earlier,” the author confirmed in Part 2.

Part 2 also directly referenced the “920-page document” and re-published a redacted version of Whalen’s three-page letter to Tom Fitton at Judicial Watch, with Whalen’s name blacked out.

The 2019 letter includes an assurance from Whalen that “from the time I came into contact with White he has never lied to me about any of the connections or facts that I have been able to corroborate.”

Whalen’s letter also includes the dubious assertion that Rosenstein enlisted two federal agents to retrieve a thumb drive from Seth Rich, and that one of the agents pointed Rich out to two MS-13 members and put them up to robbing him. The following day, according to the claim, the agent met the two MS-13 members at the shopping center in South Carolina and shot them dead.

Whalen disavowed any involvement with the Neon Revolt article.

“I never had anything to do with Neon Revolt or any of that stuff,” he told Raw Story.

The first paragraph of Part 3 signposted a betrayal by Congress that would come to life in the hours ahead when Trump supporters erected a gallows outside the Capitol and roamed the halls threatening to detain lawmakers.

“Cowards in Congress, and across the GOP?” the author wrote. “Is anyone surprised by this? Sadly, I don’t think so. In a strange way, we’ve almost all come to expect the men and women in congress to collapse and fail us, each and every time.”

Citing White as the source, the author accused Rosenstein of setting out to undermine Trump so that Pence could be president and Rosenstein could continue “his treasonous dalliances in selling intelligence to foreign powers.”

The article closed with a proclamation in bold type: “I hereby call for the immediate arrest of Michael Richard Pence, 48th Vice President of the United States, for Treason.”

Then, addressing Trump supporters directly, the author wrote: “Patriots — you are all in DC for a reason. Make it count.”

‘Pence must resign & thereafter be charged with TREASON’

Whether the Neon Revolt series was the “MOAB” Watkins had promised or not, shortly before 7 a.m. on Jan. 6 he tweeted a link to Part 1, along with a photo of Seth Rich and an excerpt indicating that a federal agent hired MS-13 members to shake him down.

Spaced about two hours apart, Watkins tweeted out links to Part 2 accompanied by a photo of Rosenstein and Part 3 with a photo of Pence, each quoting text from the story.

Watkins, who is running for Congress in Arizona, could not be reached for this story.

Lin Wood, in turn, retweeted each of Watkins tweets linking to the Neon Revolt series. For Part 1, Wood offered an endorsement: “Ron @CodeMonkeyZ is a truth-giver. When he speaks, listen carefully.”

Tweeting out the last two stories in the trifecta, Wood turned his attention to Rosenstein and Pence. In his tweet sharing Part 2, Wood wrote, “Rod Rosenstein. A name that will live in infamy.”

For Part 3, he declared, “Now my Followers will understand why I previously suggested that Mike Pence… should be charged with treason. Pence is a TRAITOR.”

Lin Wood tweet published at 10:50 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2021.Screengrab

Wood confirmed in an email to Raw Story that his use of the term “traitor” as well the term “child molester” was “based on McGreevey’s [White’s] information regarding Pence’s role with Rod Rosenstein in 2017 in efforts to create a fake Russian hoax scenario to wrongfully oust” Trump.

“I met in person with Jon McGreevey and based on my 40+ years as a trial lawyer, I made the judgement that he appeared to be a credible whistleblower whose accusations merited investigation by law enforcement and the media,” Wood told Raw Story.

Byrne, the former Overstock.com CEO who was a major financier of the efforts to overturn the election, tweeted out a link to Part 2, the installment that drew the most heavily on White’s claims.

“THIS IS ALL TRUE,” Byrne wrote. “I HAVE THE UNREDACTED DOCUMENTS.”

In an email to Raw Story, Byrne declined to say how he obtained the material.

Tweet published by Lin Wood on Jan. 6, 2021Screengrab of tweet retrieved from Internet Archive

Culminating his series of tweets sharing the Neon Revolt articles, Wood insisted: “MUST BE DONE LIST before Congress meets today: 1. Mike Pence must resign & thereafter be charged with TREASON. 2. Rod Rosenstein must be arrested & charged with being an accessory to murder & TREASON. 3. Chief Justice John Roberts must RESIGN.”

Among promoters of the election fraud claim on Twitter, Wood was almost unrivaled at the time. A study by the Social Technologies Lab at Cornell Tech found that Wood was retweeted 1.3 million times between Oct. 23 and Dec. 16, 2020, second only to Donald Trump. (Watkins was retweeted 337,205 times during the same period.)

Wood’s “MUST BE DONE LIST” tweet was retweeted 25,600 times and garnered 62,900 likes over a period of about 14 hours.

Wood told Raw Story that he did not believe at the time and has never believed subsequently that the language in his tweets was likely to inflame Trump supporters.

"Please identify credible witnesses who will state that they were 'inflamed' by my social media comments," he said. "You cannot."

Wood added that he "had whatsoever to do with" the events of Jan. 6, 2021. He added, "Rank agenda-driven speculation has no place in legitimate media reporting.

In August 2021, a federal judge in Michigan sanctioned Wood, along with Sidney Powell, for filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn the election "in bad faith and for an improper purpose." The court rejected Wood's argument that he was not involved in the lawsuit, concluding that he was aware that he had been identified as co-counsel for the plaintiffs.

Judge Linda V. Parker wrote that "plaintiffs' lawyers brazenly assert that they 'would file the same complaints again.' They make this assertion even after witnessing the events of January 6 and the dangers posed by narratives like the one counsel crafted here. An attorney who willingly continues to assert claims doomed to fail, and which have incited violence before, must be deemed to be acting with an improper motive.

"Once it appeared that their preferred political candidate's grasp on the presidency was slipping away, plaintiff's counsel helped mold the predetermined narrative about election fraud by lodging this federal lawsuit based on evidence that they actively refused to investigate or question with the requisite level of professional skepticism — and this refusal was to ensure that the evidence conformed with the predetermined narrative (a narrative that has had dangerous and violent consequences)," Parker continued in her ruling. "Plaintiffs' counsel's politically motivated accusations, allegations, and gamesmanship may be protected by the First Amendment when posted on Twitter, shared on Telegram, or repeated on television. The nation's courts, however, are reserved for hearing legitimate causes of action."

In a public post on Telegram on May 5, Wood described the court's finding that "I was responsible for January 6" as "errant nonsense," adding, "Let's see how that one plays out in the Sixth Circuit."

Lin Wood tweet published on Jan. 6, 2021Screengrab of tweet retrieved from Internet Archive

Continuing to tweet through mid-day on Jan. 6, Wood wrote: “It has been the honor of my life to work with @GenFlynn, @SidneyPowell1 & many courageous Patriots who fought for @realDonaldTruth & TRUTH,” Wood tweeted. Then he commended Ron Watkins and Ryan Dark White.

“@CodeMonkeyZ & @Johnheretohelp are heroes too,” Wood wrote. “Many others will be revealed who helped save our freedom. We the People have all the power.”

Wood, who was not in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, told Raw Story: “My tweets earlier that day related to my genuine belief that the election would not be certified and therefore, we would take our country back.”

Over the course of the afternoon, as law enforcement fought pitched battles with Trump supporters to reassert control over the Capitol, the focus of Wood’s tweets shifted from demanding the arrest of various lawmakers seen as a hindrance to Trump’s quest to hold on to power to blaming “antifa” for the violence.

“Propaganda media will falsely blame violence on @realDonaldTrump supporters & freedom-loving Patriots,” Wood tweeted. “Do NOT be fooled. The violence will be actions of Antifa. BLM, & similar Communist groups. Lock them all up. They had their lawlessness fun. Now Rule of Law takes over.”

Wood told Raw Story: “I was dismayed by what happened on January 6. I don’t know if We the People know the full truth about it yet. Only God knows. For us, only time will tell.”

Like Wood, White barely skipped a beat.

In a June 2021 interview, White told far-right podcaster Stew Peters that Jan. 6 was a “setup” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“She had controlled it and she had a lot of help,” White said. “The thing was — now there were FBI agents. There were federal agents all over January 6th. They were all over the place. And they were. One of the persons who corroborated this was there. They set this all up.”

NOW WATCH: Trump demanded court-martial of retired Navy SEAL who led bin Laden raid

Trump demanded court martial of retired Navy SEAL who led bin Laden raid www.youtube.com

Insiders flagged credibility problems for 'key witness' in lawsuits filed to overturn 2020 election

In mid-November 2020, lawyer Sidney Powell turned to a provocative source in her quest to build a bogus case that votes had been electronically altered through foreign interference, with collusion from Deep State actors, to tip the presidential election from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

A 37-page declaration from an anonymous person representing themself as a former “electronic intelligence analyst under the 305th Military Intelligence [Battalion]” with “extensive experience as a white hat hacker used by some of the top election specialists in the world,” was filed in Powell’s lawsuits in Wisconsin and Arizona on Dec. 1, 2020.

The complaints filed by Powell included two pages of materials citing the anonymous declarant’s claims, including an assertion that votes cast during the presidential election were routed into “foreign countries,” and then “mixed” through an “algorithm” in a “secretive process,” and quoted the declarant’s conclusion that “the ‘Digital Fix’ observed with an increased spike in VOTES for Joe Biden can be determined as evidence of a pivot.”

The anonymous declarant was Terpsechore “Tore” Maras, host of the popular pro-Trump “Tore Says” podcast. Less than three months earlier, a North Dakota state judge had found that Maras raised funds for victims of an apartment fire and homeless shelters, and then used the funds for herself through purchases at McDonald’s, Walmart and Target. The judge also found that Maras “created an entirely fake online persona,” including claiming “to be a 22-year veteran of Naval intelligence and a Purple Heart recipient.”

RELATED: 'One more plan': Inside the plan to mobilize ‘millions of patriots’ to ‘take it into their own hands’ on Jan. 6

Maras’ declaration was used in the Wisconsin and Arizona lawsuits filed by Powell despite concerns raised by several people involved in vetting her claims, new reporting from Raw Story has found.

Seth Keshel, a former Army military intelligence captain who assisted a team assembled at defamation attorney Lin Wood’s Tomotley estate in South Carolina -- that included Powell and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn -- acknowledged that serious doubts were raised about Maras’s credibility in a private Telegram message to another person involved in the continuing effort to uncover evidence of election fraud since President Biden took office.

“Tore is not credible,” Keshel said in the Aug. 17, 2021 text. “I was on the initial teams drafting lawsuits over the states with Sidney and Flynn. Our teams researched her heavily and found many problems. Just go search. Yes, the media says stuff about everyone, but there are many easily disprovable things in her history. No one gets offered a spot to become an officer while they are in bootcamp.” Keshel added that “unfortunately she wound up as a key witness in one of our cases.”

In an email to Raw Story on Tuesday, Keshel said, “I can’t speak for why various things were included or not, as it was not my call to what made it in, and I certainly can’t speak for the attorneys and don’t want to be construed that I tried to do so. I will tell you that filing deadlines were very tight, and the team had hundreds upon hundreds of affidavits and statistical summaries to peruse before, some more actionable than others. Also, with nearly a year and a half in the books since that time, more clarity is available on some topics that we didn’t have in November/December 2020.”

RELATED: Review of Enrique Tarrio's phone in January unlocked evidence in Proud Boys conspiracy case: prosecutors

Keshel did not respond to a follow-up question as to whether the concerns about Maras’ credibility were communicated to Powell or other lawyers who served as her co-counsel before the declaration was filed.

Keshel’s account of the concerns flagged about Maras is corroborated by others, including Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock.com CEO who marshaled and financed a team of internet researchers, some with military and federal government backgrounds, to investigate alleged election fraud, working closely with Powell and Flynn.

Patrick Bergy at the Trump Hotel in “Revenge of the Kraken!” online documentary

When she approached Powell’s legal team in November 2020, Maras was part of a crew that had been promoting the “ShadowGate” conspiracy theory that was the subject of a documentary produced by former InfoWars correspondent Millie Weaver. Maras and a former military contractor named Patrick Bergy were both featured as “whistleblowers” in the documentary.

Weaver claimed in her documentary that “a small group of government contractors” was responsible for everything from framing the Trump campaign to “set him up for the Russia collusion investigation to creating “fake news in the mainstream media” and fomenting civil unrest during the George Floyd protests. A review by PolitiFact in August 2020 concluded that the claims were “sweeping” and “unfounded.”

RELATED: Indictment of Proud Boys leader hints at coordination with other insurrection actors

Around the time of the “ShadowGate” documentary release, Weaver and her boyfriend, Gavin Wince, were arrested and charged with robbery, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice and domestic violence. The charges were later dropped, but Weaver was fired by InfoWars owner Alex Jones.

Weaver, Wince and Maras showed up in Washington, DC in early November, and Bergy told Raw Story that he joined them around Nov. 15.

Maras was cited alongside Bergy as a primary source for the claims in “ShadowGate.” By both of their accounts, they had a falling out during their time together in Washington, DC. Their relationship has only become more acrimonious since then.

Bergy told Raw Story that he reviewed some of the claims that went into Maras’ declaration.

“Tore, this stuff you’re sending me is garbage,” he said he told Maras.

Byrne, the former Overstock.com CEO and financier of much of the effort to overturn the election, confirmed in an August 2021 email to Bergy that he was aware of concerns about Maras’ credibility. Bergy told Raw Story that, based on a text he exchanged with Maras, the interview took place on Dec. 14, 2020. Corroborating statements reported by ProPublica that Byrne and Maras said the interview took place after her declaration was filed in federal court.

“Tore was taken out an [sic] interviewed by some people I know in the intelligence community who are absolutely on kour [sic] side,” Byrne said in the email, which was also reported by ProPublica. “They came back telling me: ‘She knows some things and has been behind the curtain, but she also lies, exaggerates, deflects, changes subjects rapidly trying to through [sic] people off, and we cannot rely on her for anything factual because we caught her in too many lies and exaggerations over three hours’ (precisely as I warned her they would do if she did not heed a little coaching from me).”

Maras could not be reached for comment for this story, but wrote in a blog post about the episode: “I made it no secret that I was knowingly attempting to deceive those asking me questions. I had NO IDEA who I was talking to.”

Bergy told Raw Story that he saw Maras after the interview.

“She gets out of the car a little panicked,” Bergy recalled. “She’s like, ‘I think they drugged me. I think they put something in the hand sanitizer.’ She claimed that all her lies was because they drugged her.”

Tore Maras and Millie Weaver in "Revenge of the Kraken!” online documentary

Bergy told Raw Story that Patrick Byrne covered the costs of lodging at the Westin Arlington Gateway Hotel in Virginia for himself, Weaver, Wince and Maras during the period they were assisting in the effort to uncover alleged election fraud on Trump’s behalf. Bergy said he only stayed at the Westin for three nights, but that Byrne covered Weaver, Wince and Maras’ hotel expenses from mid-November 2020 through about Jan. 18, 2021, and said that Byrne instructed them to submit their receipts to Weaver. In a story published by the Washington Post in late December 2020 that exposed Maras’ identity, Byrne denied funding her efforts in DC.

Byrne did not respond to a request for comment submitted through his lawyer in time to meet the publication deadline for this story.

Byrne was more involved with the efforts of the team promoting the “ShadowGate” conspiracy theory, which came to be known as “Team America” as it shifted into efforts to uncover election fraud than has been previously reported. Bergy told Raw Story that he, Maras, Weaver and Wince “were there as guests of” Byrne; Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney; and Michael Trimarco, a Giuliani associate who initially rented the block rooms at the Westin after the election.

The core team of “ShadowGate” promoters eventually expanded to include Scott Bennett, a former military contractor who had previously been convicted of making a false and fraudulent statement to the government and for the unauthorized wearing of a military uniform by a federal jury in Florida; Stephen Pidgeon, a Washington State attorney who represented Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp in a lawsuit alleging widespread election fraud that was reportedly withdrawn after the state Attorney General warned it would ask a judge the impose sanctions; and Dennis Nathan Cain, a former FBI contractor who reportedly possessed documents said to have linked the Clinton Foundation to the 2013 sale of a Canadian-owned mining company to a Russian firm’s subsidiary.

Weaver, Bergy and Maras at the Trump Hotel in “Revenge of the Kraken!” online documentary

Beyond paying for hotel rooms, Bergy said that Byrne also footed the bill for Weaver and Wince to fly to California to interview a supposed whistleblower from the AFL-CIO. Footage from the trip showing Weaver driving a Mercedes out of a parking garage and crossing a bridge into San Francisco was used in a documentary entitled “Revenge of the Kraken!” that Weaver released on Dec. 26, 2020.

“We are about to go interview a whistleblower pertaining to election fraud,” Weaver says in a reality TV-style narration in the film. “I’m not going to give you guys too much information on who it is because we’re protecting their identity, but as soon as we get this video interview, we are gonna hop on a plane back to DC, and we’re gonna get that to the Trump team’s lawyers, and those who can do something with it.”

The interview, with the subject’s voice altered and image scrambled, is featured in the documentary, but was not cited in any of the lawsuits filed by the president’s legal team. The documentary intersperses unfounded assertions about election fraud with inspirational speeches by Flynn and others at a Dec. 12, 2020 pro-Trump rally, and includes calls to action by Weaver such as: “Make sure that you also show up in DC on the 6th to have your voice heard.”

Bennett recounted Team America’s efforts in a July 2021 interview with Bergy. Introducing Bergy, Bennett said, “He was back with me in Washington, DC along with the team doing election analytics under Joe Flynn [Michael Flynn’s brother], Patrick Byrne, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani, a whole host of team members that were back there. And we performed our mission like soldiers, Patrick Bergy and I, and Tore too. And Millie and her husband saw that, and Stephen Pidgeon, our attorney that was back there knew that in our character. We have a mission attitude, which is advance, destroy the enemy, expose the spies and constantly be attacking, attacking, attacking.”

Bergy told Raw Story that he came to DC at the invitation of Weaver and Wince.

“I was brought there — at least I was told; I wonder now — I was brought there as a whistleblower to provide my formal affidavit,” Bergy told Raw Story. “It wasn’t for influence.”

Bergy swore out a 70-page affidavit on Dec. 2, 2020 that detailed his experience as a military contractor and included multiple emails, letters, texts, social media posts and federal election campaign reports.

In the same email in which Byrne confirmed that he belatedly arranged an interview to assess Maras’ credibility, he told Bergy that his “affidavit was read and absorbed,” although it was not used in any of the lawsuits.

“Because you came in with [Maras], you were painted with the same brush,” Byrne told Bergy. “But primarily, your information, while explaining the big picture, did not give us anything actionable to use in our battle. Did it? Maybe it did.”

Since the assault on the US Capitol, Bergy said he has come to question the motives of many of the people with him in DC from mid-November 2020 through Jan. 6, 2021. While insisting that he “was there as a fly on the wall, as an observer,” he said that by the time he attended a Jan. 5 pro-Trump rally he had begun to conclude: “This is a big freaking influence operation.”

Asked to identify the desired outcome of the “influence operation,” Bergy did not respond directly.

“You can certainly ask the question of why did Rudy Giuliani and Patrick Byrne secretly bring in Millie and Gavin into their inner circle to collect and disseminate information,” Bergy said. “Why did they [involve] Phil Waldron; he’s retired colonel with a background in psy-op. Everything I saw was a tactically coordinated [Interactive Internet Activities] operation disseminating whatever narrative they needed at the time. Other than that, you wanted to put out information and control damage with people that had a background that is basically information warfare.”

'One more plan': Inside the plan to mobilize ‘millions of patriots’ to ‘take it into their own hands’ on Jan. 6

While high-level allies were lobbying President Trump in mid-December 2020 to use the National Guard to seize voting machines and appoint conspiracy theorist Sidney Powell special counsel to investigate election fraud, discussions were already taking place about mobilizing supporters to make an intimidating show of force at the US Capitol as lawmakers were certifying the election.

Robert Patrick Lewis, a retired Army Special Forces operative and leader of the 1st Amendment Praetorian volunteer security group, described a “plan” in a Dec. 15, 2020 podcast that has, to date, received scant attention and that eerily predicts the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

“And there’s even one more plan,” Lewis told fellow 1st Amendment Praetorian member Alan Kielan in an episode of Kielan’s QAnon-inspired “Uncensored Abe” podcast. “And that’s if they can’t get it done through the courts, can’t get it done through law enforcement, can’t get it done through the military. I still hold firm that there are two men that can issue one sentence. And there would be at a minimum 10 to 15 million pissed-off patriots that would take it to the streets and go take it into their own hands.”

Lewis and 1st Amendment Praetorian were intrinsically connected to the team led by attorney Sidney Powell, retired Lt. General Michael Flynn and former Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne that was attempting to overturn the election through legal challenges followed by the effort to activate the National Guard to seize voting machines, both fed by baseless claims of election fraud.

RELATED: Prosecutors 'may soon reach a charging decision' on Rudy Giuliani: CNN

Lewis has said that during the period from November to January, 1st Amendment Praetorian “had a team in DC with General Flynn and Sidney Powell and Patrick Byrne, and so we got a front-row view to a lot of this stuff coming in.” In the same interview with right-wing broadcaster Doug Billings, Lewis said 1st Amendment Praetorian’s “intel team” had been processing open-source intelligence and synthesizing “different things that people had been sharing on social media regarding different pieces of this election fraud puzzle,” including fanciful theories about election software companies allowing foreign interference by countries like China, Venezuela and Iran.

A 1st Amendment Praetorian “security team” drove Flynn and Powell to the White House for a Dec. 18 meeting, Lewis has said. During the meeting, Flynn and Powell reportedly urged Trump to issue an emergency order to seize control of elections machinery. In his interview with Billings, Lewis said 1st Amendment Praetorian delivered “intelligence” to “the White House… directly to the president.” It remains unclear how the information was conveyed to the president; in an email to Raw Story on Tuesday, Lewis said he has never met or spoken to Trump.

Beyond relaying baseless claims that undermined confidence in the election, 1st Amendment Praetorian also provided security for speakers, including Flynn, at large pro-Trump rallies in DC on Nov. 14 and Dec. 12 that helped build momentum for Jan. 6. Three days before Lewis’ comment to Kielan about “one more plan,” 1st Amendment Praetorian had provided Flynn’s personal security detail for the retired general’s triumphant speeches on the National Mall and in front of the Supreme Court.

Lewis referenced the Battle of Athens, an armed conflict that took place in Tennessee in 1946 when US military veterans forcibly seized control of ballot boxes, as a precedent for what might happen in the coming days during the Dec. 15 interview.

RELATED: Trump lawyers to talk with Jan 6 committee — but there won’t be a transcript: report

“If the elected officials lose the consent of the governed, as American citizens we have the constitutional authority to go physically rip them out of their offices, tie ’em down to a railroad tie and run ’em out of town,” he said. “Right? Running them out of town on a rail. We can do that if they lose the consent of the governed. And there are enough of us.

“And all it would take would be one sentence from President Trump or General Flynn,” Lewis continued. “And I guarantee you 10 to 15 million pissed-off American patriots — probably a large percentage of them would be vets — would be willing to drop everything, go to DC or their state capitol and take action into their own hands.”

1AP leader Robert Patrick Lewis shares 'plan' to mobilize 'pissed-off patriots' www.youtube.com

At least two members of the 1st Amendment Praetorian were on the grounds of the US Capitol on Jan. 6. Geoffrey Flohr, a retired police polygrapher who had served with Lewis in Flynn’s personal security detail, was seen walking on both the west and east sides of the Capitol while talking on a cell phone. Kielan has said on his podcast that he was on the steps of the Capitol and “watched as flashbangs got shot right over our heads.” Kielan said the FBI came to his house to interview him two months after the attack.

Lewis told Raw Story that he listened to President Trump's speech at the Ellipse on the morning of Jan. 6, and he has told the Daily Beast that he was at the Willard Hotel when he tweeted, at 2:18 p.m. that day: “Today is the day the true battles begin.”

In an email to Raw Story earlier this week, Lewis said "the only thing" 1st Amendment Praetorian volunteers did on Jan. 6 was provide personal security details for "local DC mainstream media reporters." Lewis did not elaborate on which reporters or outlets received protection from 1st Amendment Praetorian. In previous statements, he has expressed scorn for the mainstream media. As an example, during his Dec. 15 interview, Lewis told Kielan that the "media" had been "corrupted" by foreign adversaries.

RELATED: BUSTED: ‘Stop the Steal’ organizer Amy Kremer hit with another big campaign finance fine

While dozens of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers — far-right groups whose members stormed the Capitol or were allegedly involved in planning the attack — face charges, no members of 1st Amendment Praetorian have been arrested to date. In November, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack subpoenaed Lewis, noting that it is examining “how various individuals and entities coordinated their activities leading up to the events of January 6, 2021, as well as the influencing factors that fomented such an attack on American representative democracy while engaged in a constitutional process.”

The subpoena noted that Lewis has publicly discussed coordinating with Flynn and Powell, and that in an interview the day after the attack on the Capitol, the 1st Amendment Praetorian leader said he was participating in “war-gaming” with “constitutional scholars” as part of an effort to keep Trump in office. The subpoena also noted that Lewis had claimed to be in contact with Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes prior to Jan. 6. Following the committee’s subpoena to Lewis, Rhodes was indicted for seditious conspiracy.

Lewis’ comment about “one more plan” came four days before President Trump issued his infamous tweet summoning his supporters to Washington, DC on Jan. 6 for a “wild” rally. During Dec. 15 interview, Lewis said, “We were asked by a very high-level person to do one of the highest-profile events of the year, potentially next year. And that’s just all — I’m gonna leave it at that.”

Lewis told Raw Story that 1st Amendment Praetorian has been investigated and "that the FBI, NSA, DOJ and other actual law enforcement agencies didn't find any involvement in [criminal activity related to the Jan. 6 riot] after very close examination."

However, Lewis did not respond to a detailed set of follow-up questions outlining the findings in Raw Story's reporting.

On the day Trump issued his “wild” rally tweet, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander rallied a crowd outside the Arizona state capitol in Phoenix.

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“One of our organizers in one state said, ‘We’re nice patriots, we don’t throw bricks,’” Alexander said, according to a report by the Daily Beast. “I leaned over and I said, ‘Not yet. Not yet!’ Haven’t you read about a little tar-and-feathering? Those were second-degree burns!

“We’re going to convince them to not certify the vote on January 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots, to sit their butts in DC and close that city down, right,” Alexander continued, uttering a coded threat of violence, according to the Daily Beast. “And if we have to explore options after that… ‘yet.’ Yet!”

Paul Kamenar, an attorney representing Alexander, told Raw Story that his client's speech in Phoenix was protected under the First Amendment.

"Ali Alexander has never advocated that violence replace his political organizing," Kamenar said. "He disavows any violence."

1st Amendment Praetorian provided personal security detail for Alexander during the Nov. 14, 2020 Millions for MAGA rally in DC, and for a series of “Stop the Steal” rallies at the Georgia state capitol the following week.

Alexander recently disclosed that he is cooperating with the Department of Justice’s expanded investigation into potential planning and coordination for the violent effort to disrupt Congress’ certification of the electoral vote on Jan. 6, according to a report by the New York Times. Alexander has also cooperated with the January 6th Committee, sitting for a deposition in December.

While pledging to cooperate with the Department of Justice, Alexander issued a statement saying, “I did nothing wrong, and I am not in possession of evidence that anyone else had plans to commit unlawful acts,” according to the Times.

Closely following the weekend rally in Phoenix in which Alexander vowed to mobilize “millions of patriots” to come to DC, President Trump, his chief of staff Mark Meadows and Giuliani reportedly met with lawmakers, including Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), on Dec. 21 to discuss a legislative strategy for blocking electoral certification.

Alexander credited the three lawmakers with helping him conceive of the Jan. 6 rally in a Periscope video that has since been taken down.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting so that who we couldn’t lobby we could change the hearts and minds of Republicans who were in that body hearing our loud roar from outside,” Alexander said in the video, which has been copied and preserved by reporter Jason Paladino.

Biggs and Brooks have said they have no recollection of meeting Alexander.

Gosar had previously hailed Alexander as a “true patriot” and tweeted out a video of himself with the “Stop the Steal” organizer at a rally in Phoenix on Nov. 30. An email and phone call to Gosar’s press aide for this story went unreturned.

Statements by Rhodes, the Oath Keepers leader, reflect a similar posture to those of Lewis and Alexander.

“We have no representation any longer at any level of our government because it’s been stolen,” Rhodes told the conspiracy theorist Mike Adams in an interview published between the Dec. 12 pro-Trump rally and Christmas, in late 2020. “So, we’re gonna have to separate from this atrocity. We’re going to have to overthrow it, alter it, abolish it.

“We’re in the middle of a civil war right now,” he added. “We’re in a civil war-slash-revolution against this cancerous puppet regime that’s taken over — the Deep State, the people who are in bed with communist China.”

To his fellow Oath Keepers on Christmas day, Rhodes said in an encrypted chat cited in a government court filing: “I think Congress will screw [Trump] over. The only change [sic] we/he has is if we scare the sh*t out of them and convince them it will be torches and pitchforks time is [sic] they don’t do the right thing. But I don’t think they will listen.”

Audio of a Dec. 30 conference call between Jason Sullivan, a onetime aide to Roger Stone, that was published by the New York Times on Tuesday, sheds light on a multi-pronged, inside-outside strategy to pressure Congress.

“You have to create leverage where you don’t have it,” said Sullivan, a social media strategist. “Right now, we can do a lot of these things. I like the idea of — let’s do the indictment. Let’s go through the process. But it’s going to be a process. It’s not going to be the Gordian knot solution, so to speak. But it can certainly be a hell of a nail in their coffin, especially if the process runs through, okay. But at the same time, there’s gotta be a multiple-front strategy.

“And that multiple-front strategy is, I do think, descend on the Capitol,” Sullivan continued. “Without question. Make those people feel it inside, okay, so they understand the people are breathing down their neck.”

In a statement provided to the Times through his lawyer, Sullivan denied responsibility for the violence that took place on Jan. 6. “I only promoted peaceful solutions where Americans could raise their voices and be heard as expressed in our First Amendment,” he said. “I in no way condone the violence of any protesters.”

During a rally in Washington, DC on the eve of Congress’ meeting to finalize the electoral vote, Flynn struck a martial tone, telling Trump’s supporters that they were standing on “soil that we have fought over, fought for, and we will fight for it in the future.” He urged those members of Congress “who are feeling weak tonight, those of you that don’t have the moral fiber in your body — get some tonight because tomorrow we are going to be here, and we want you to know that we will not stand for a lie.”

A tweet from the 1st Amendment Praetorian account on Jan. 4 also likewise braced the security forces that would be deployed to protect lawmakers to prepare to pick a side.

“There may be some young National Guard captains facing some very, very tough choices in the next 48 hours,” the tweet read. “Pray with every fiber of your being that their choices are Wise, Just and Fearless.”

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Exclusive: White House aide relayed information from Giuliani research team to Trump in effort to overturn 2020 election

During the frantic period between the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol, a young White House aide named Garrett Ziegler served as a conduit of information from a network of teams led by lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell to President Trump, as the operatives generated unfounded and specious claims in an attempt to delegitimize the 2020 presidential election.

Ziegler has spoken openly about using his pass to let attorney Sidney Powell and retired Lt. General Michael Flynn into the White House for a Dec. 18, 2020 meeting with President Trump and contributing to a report authored by his boss, trade advisor Peter Navarro, that was used to undermine confidence in the election. But Raw Story has confirmed that Ziegler played a much more significant role than has been previously understood. Working directly with a team that reported to Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, Ziegler helped create a seamless information chain that was mobilized in the effort to overturn the election.

As previously reported, Ziegler let Powell and Flynn into the White House for an impromptu meeting with Trump, in which the trio reportedly urged the president to invoke the National Emergencies Act so that he could use the National Guard to seize ballots and appoint Powell as a special counsel to investigate the election. Patrick Byrne, the former Overstock.com CEO, has said that he contacted Ziegler to arrange the meeting. The visit caught Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House counsel Pat Cipollone by surprise, according to Ziegler, and Ziegler’s visitor access privileges were subsequently revoked.

The following day, Trump tweeted a link to the report authored by Navarro produced in collaboration with Ziegler, while calling his supporters to come to Washington, DC on Jan. 6 for a “wild rally.”

Ziegler also said he attempted to arrange a separate meeting between Powell and Trump, Raw Story has found.

“I walked Sidney over to the residence one night to try to get the president a binder full of evidence,” Ziegler asserted in a YouTube interview after he had left the White House. Powell was blocked from meeting with the president, he said, contending that Trump’s more cautious staff prevented the president from taking bolder action.

Ziegler disclosed on his Telegram channel last month that he received an invitation to speak with the staff and members of the January 6th Committee. The House cited Navarro, Ziegler’s former boss, for criminal contempt for defying subpoenas from the select committee and referred him to the US Department of Justice for prosecution on April 6.

While gathering information and drafting the Navarro report, Ziegler worked with a research team that reported to Giuliani, according to Giuliani associate Michael Trimarco. A Long Island businessman with a background in finance and tech, Trimarco told far-right conspiracy theorist Ann Vandersteel in a recent video that he had been helping Giuliani analyze the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop in October 2020, and then hastily switched over to researching alleged election fraud after the election.

The Westin hotel in Arlington, Va. served as the initial hub for the teams collecting affidavits to support the legal challenges, Raw Story has found. Those teams promoted a fount of specious claims that would fuel the violent effort to prevent Congress from certifying the election. Byrne said in a video posted earlier this year that Trimarco “rented some rooms” for Powell “and a few other people” at the Westin. The video was removed from Byrne’s channel on the alternative video streaming platform Rumble, but a copy was republished by the news site One News Page, crediting Rumble as the original source.

“All of this would have fallen apart on that side of the river had it not been for [Trimarco] showing up and not just with a credit card, but trying to provide some adult supervision,” Byrne said. “He’s a real champion, and the MAGA crowd should know that when push came to shove, this fellow came up out of nowhere and was very valuable in helping corral all these forces and keep things from just spinning apart in the early days.”

In mid-November 2020, Powell, Flynn and Byrne decamped from the Westin to the Tomotley Plantation in South Carolina at the invitation of defamation attorney Lin Wood in mid-November. The team led by Powell and Flynn at Tomotley received widespread coverage. Less attention has been focused on a second team that stayed behind. Ziegler was a frequent presence at the Westin, which he dubbed the “cyber-patriots,” Trimarco said.

The team at the Westin “did have access to Garrett at the White House, they did get tours, and they did work with Garrett extensively,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “I know he did — and he was working diligently with these folks to get as much information as quickly as we could into the right hands.”

Ziegler worked with Giuliani team to get information to Trump

Following in the footsteps of his older cousin Ron Ziegler, onetime press secretary for President Richard Nixon, Garrett Ziegler landed an internship at the White House as a college student in 2017. He joined the staff of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy under Navarro two years later. Prior to the election, Ziegler said he worked on reports touting “the Trump economic record” in sectors like mining and manufacturing in swing states. Beginning around Nov. 15 — roughly the same time Powell moved her team from the Westin to the Tomotley Plantation — Ziegler said he and three other aides started helping Navarro compile reports casting doubt on the outcome of the election.

“We prepared — Peter gave direction,” Ziegler told David Clements, a former New Mexico State University professor who has amassed a large following on Telegram among election deniers and anti-vaccine adherents. “He laid it out, what his vision was. And our job was to get the first draft.”

In his account of his time working on the Giuliani election team at the Westin, Trimarco told Vandersteel he was impressed by Ziegler’s energy and found him to be mature beyond his years.

“I mean, this guy — talk about people really working 24-7,” Trimarco said. “He would come around at 11, midnight, 1, after he’s done at the White House, to get information. I saw him come by one or two times. But he was working with a few key people on our team to get the information.”

In the tangled web of relationships among the operatives working to overturn the election at the Westin, Tomotley and across the country, Trimarco was responsible for making sure crucial information reached Giuliani.

“If you wanted to get information from Sidney’s camp, at least at the very beginning, over to Rudy’s, you’d come through me,” Trimarco said. “That was the reason I was at a lot of these meetings — to get information over to Rudy, because he represented the president, for real. And we weren’t physically in the same location.”

While the “cyber-patriots” team was headquartered at the Westin, according to Trimarco, Giuliani has said he was working out of the Trump Hotel around the time of the election and then moved to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Shortly after Christmas, Giuliani said he moved to the Willard Hotel. Giuliani’s statements about his whereabouts during the period he was challenging the election on Trump’s behalf come from a deposition for a defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems employee Eric Coomer.

Giuliani did not respond to multiple emails and voicemails to his lawyers seeking comment..

Ziegler was working so closely with the team at the Westin that information often reached Trump before it reached him, Trimarco said.

“Ironically, a lot of the stuff that got back to Rudy didn’t end up coming through me,” Trimarco told Vandersteel. “Because once that connection was made, Garrett would give it to Peter, and Peter would give it to the president, and then it would circle back to Rudy.”

Ziegler told Raw Story he would respond to questions for comment, but didn’t send responses by press time.

Trimarco comes from a politically connected family in New York. His involvement in politics long predates the effort to overturn the 2020 election. During a New York state court trial to decide a complaint brought by Trimarco against his former business partners, witnesses testified that Trimarco took part in a meeting with then-Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) in 2002 to discuss a venture that would theoretically capture and store biometric data to properly identify passengers at Long Island’s MacArthur Airport. Trimarco’s former partners accused him of failing to talk about their business during the meeting and instead promoting a business owned by his family.

Trimarco claimed in his March interview with Vandersteel that “the feds are coming after me” related to a matter involving Cambridge Analytica — the British consulting firm that used Facebook data to micro-target voters to the advantage of the Trump campaign in 2016. He further asserted that Giuliani was representing him in the matter. It is unclear exactly what Trimarco’s relationship to Cambridge Analytica is, but a Fast Company story linked Cambridge Analytica to members of the Ergen family, who own Dish Network, and court records indicate that Trimarco was involved in marketing and distribution work for Dish Network in 2010.

In 2018, Trimarco sued Dish Network scion Chase Ergen, and he was represented by a New York City lawyer named Howard Kleinhendler.

Trimarco told Vandersteel that he was analyzing the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop for Giuliani in October 2020. Kleinhendler allowed him to come by his law office to print out pages from the device. The effort to mine the laptop for information that could damage the Biden campaign pivoted to generating baseless election fraud theories once it became apparent Trump was going to lose.

“When everything went south after election night and Howard was on the phone with me right away — ‘How can I help? Can I work on this? I want to help the cause,’” Trimarco recalled. The next day, Trimarco said Kleinhendler showed up at the Westin ready to go to work. Kleinhendler went on to file an election suit as Sidney Powell’s co-counsel in Arizona, and currently represents Powell in defamation suits brought by Dominion Voting Systems and Smartmatic.

Despite multiple attempts, Kleinhendler could not be reached for comment.

In his interview with Vandersteel, Trimarco recalled a meeting that took place at the Westin shortly after the election that included Kleinhendler and Powell. Two other men who attended the meeting — retired Army Col. Phil Waldron and Texas businessman Russell Ramsland — explained “their theories on how the system was hacked,” Trimarco said.

Ziegler maintains that during his time in the White House he was outspoken in his advocacy for Trump to take bold action to prevent the transfer of power to Joe Biden.

“I was telling whoever would listen to me in the White House: ‘Let’s just go look at the ballots. We don’t have to do it. Have the National Guard in Georgia do it,’” Ziegler told an interviewer, outlining a proposal similar to the one Powell, Flynn and Byrne pitched to President Trump at the White House meeting.

In late December 2020, Ziegler said he was “still holding out hope that some of the advice my boss was giving [Trump] that we needed to do something about this would actually get done, that he would quote-unquote cross the Rubicon…. But he didn’t do that.”

By then, the ceaseless drumbeat of unfounded claims that the vote had been electronically altered by foreign powers had come to be accepted as truth by Trump’s supporters. Outraged by what they considered treason by lawmakers, state officials and judges who thwarted the president’s attempt to cling to power, they took matters into their own hands. On Jan. 6, 2021, the pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol and forced Congress to delay certification of the electoral vote. The vote was ultimately certified and Biden was confirmed as the next president.

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Patriot Boys militia member indicted for conspiracy in Jan. 6 attack

Federal prosecutors have obtained an indictment against Donald Hazard, the sergeant of arms for the Patriot Boys militia group of Texas, on conspiracy to obstruct Congress and assault on law enforcement for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol.

The 19-page indictment returned on April 1 largely replicates the language in a complaint filed against Hazard and Patriot Boys president Lucas Denney on Dec. 7, 2021. Denney and Hazard were both accused of conspiracy, but so far Denney has only been indicted on a single charge of assaulting law enforcement. The government hastily sought the limited indictment against Denney to meet a deadline under the Speedy Trial Act, but prosecutors have indicated they plan to seek additional charges against the militia leader.

On Tuesday, prosecutors filed notice that the two cases are related under a local court rule in the in the District of Columbia federal court district. Prosecutors noted that the cases arise from the same complaint.

“As detailed in the complaint, that investigation involves evidence — including messages and posts by two social media accounts, obtained by search warrant — showing the defendants’ planning and preparation for January 6, 2021, including the acquisition of weapons and protective gear, and their recruitment of others to join them in traveling to Washington, DC in the days leading up to January 6, 2021,” the notice reads. “Accordingly, the United States submits that these two matters arise from common activities which are part of the same alleged criminal event and arise from common search warrants.

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The allegations against Denney and Hazard point to broader coordination between the Texas militia group and other militants involved in the assault on the US Capitol.

As alleged in the initial complaint against the two men and again in the recent indictment of Hazard, Denney told Hazard on Dec. 21, 2020: “Trump is calling for a big protest in DC on January 6th. I’m not going to miss this one. If you can go, it’s paid for.”

On Christmas Day, the government alleges that the two men exchanged texts alluding to communication between Denney and members of the Proud Boys. Dozens of members of the Proud Boys, who formed the vanguard of the force that stormed the Capitol, have been charged, and on Friday North Carolina Proud Boys leader Charles Donohoe pleaded guilty to conspiracy.

“So, the 6th is going to be bigger than the last rally,” Denney told Hazard. “I can’t tell you everything I know over media here but it’s gonna be big. Millions and millions will be there, I can tell you that.

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“We will need linking up with the proud boys though,” Denney added. “I’ve been in contact with a few different chapters and they’re helping us with safe hotels to get.”

The recent indictment of Hazard alleges that he and Denney positioned themselves on the west side of the Capitol on Jan. 6, and Hazard yelled at police officers, “We’re patriots, mother***er,” while slapping his tactical vest.

“F*** you! You’re bought out by China, you communist f***!” he added.

As Hazard was climbing the steps under a scaffolding, the government alleges that he fought with a police officer, and as the two men fell to the ground, Hazard yelled to the crowd to get the officer’s gun. As a result of the struggle, the officer was allegedly knocked unconscious and sustained injuries to his head, foot and arm.

Boogaloo disciple arrested outside trucker convoy now faces federal charge

Brandon Jackson, the boogaloo adherent arrested last month for carrying a loaded firearm outside the trucker convoy encampment, now faces a federal charge in addition to state charges in Maryland.

Following his March 24 arrest outside the Hagerstown Speedway, where Maryland State Police responded to a complaint about a vehicle blocking the entrance, the 28-year-old Jackson spent the weekend in the Washington County Detention Center. According to Maryland state court records, Jackson was bonded out on March 28, but a federal complaint was filed against him the same day for interstate transport of a firearm while he was under indictment in Arizona for a crime carrying a potential punishment of imprisonment for more than one year.

Jackson made no secret of his legal troubles in Arizona during an argument with Josh Fulfer, a right-wing live-streamer from California, preceding his arrest on March 24.

“I support both sides,” Jackson said. “I’ve been at stop the steal rallies…. I’ve been at multiple freedom events. I’m a gun rights activist. If you’d look at Arizona on my record, you’d know. Everyone from Arizona listening to this knows my record. I’m Brandon Jackson.” Jackson's statement was captured by a livestreamer for the 1st Responders Media YouTube channel.

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During the prior incident, police arrested Jackson following an armed standoff at the Arizona state capitol on Dec. 4, 2020, according to a report by 12 News in Phoenix. Undercover officers had tailed Jackson and another man from Jackson’s home in Scottsdale after witnessing them transfer a rifle to the trunk of Jackson’s car. Footage from the report shows that Jackson had a pistol strapped to his hip, and he reportedly refused to comply with orders from police. Armored trucks and a helicopter converged on the scene and officers pointed their service weapons at Jackson before firing a flashbang and taking him into custody. Jackson and the other man were wearing Hawaiian shirts, an emblem of the boogaloo movement, and Jackson was wearing an igloo hat, which is also a boogaloo signifier.

Jackson’s March 24 arrest in Hagerstown, Md. appears to have caught the attention of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. As noted in an affidavit filed by Jessica Woodin, an ATF special agent assigned to an FBI Joint Task Force in Maryland, Jackson was charged with multiple felonies in Maricopa County, in Arizona, on Dec. 8, 2020, including conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons and hindering prosecution in the first degree. A grand jury returned an indictment for the charges on Jan. 28, 2021.

While facing state felony charges related to the armed standoff at the Arizona capitol, Jackson purchased Smith and Wesson M&P Shield 9mm pistol at a federally licensed gun store in Tempe, according Woodin’s affidavit. The pistol was found stuffed in Jackson’s pants when Maryland State trooper detained him outside the trucker convoy encampment on March 24.

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The affidavit supporting the federal charge against Jackson indicates he went out of his way to engage the troopers when they showed up to respond to the complaint about a vehicle blocking the entrance to the speedway.

When the troopers arrived on the scene, Jackson approached them to voice frustration about “security members that were removing certain convoy members from the speedway,” according to the affidavit.

“In an attempt to satisfy all parties, MSP asked Jackson if he could sleep elsewhere for the evening until there was an opportunity to speak with the head of the convoy regarding access back into the speedway,” affidavit reads. “Jackson explained he was not interested in leaving due to the fact that he had belongings still inside the speedway. Upon being asked what belongings he could not retrieve tomorrow, Jackson stated that he had firearms back at his campsite.”

Jackson confirmed that he was carrying a pistol when asked by one of the troopers, and admitted that he did not have a Maryland carry permit. Then the affidavit indicates that one of the troopers “shined a flashlight at Jackson’s waist and revealed an abnormal bulge in Jackson’s jeans consistent with the indentation of a concealed firearm.” The troopers reportedly informed Jackson that based on the 1968 Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio, they had the right to search and detain him as an armed individual based on probable cause.

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Following Jackson’s arrest, the troopers searched his 2020 Honda Civic, which was parked on the shoulder of the road outside the speedway. They reportedly recovered a Palmetto State Armory PA-15 firearm, a magazine with 24 rounds of 5.56 ammunition, two glass jars of marijuana, a glass smoking device and a vape pen with a THC cartridge.

A trace of the Palmetto State Armory PA-15 firearm found that it was purchased by another individual from a federally licensed gun store in Lansing, Mich. on Dec. 4, 2021.

Following a detention hearing in Baltimore on March 31, a federal magistrate judge released Jackson on condition that he refrain from possessing firearms, submit to drug testing and undergo substance abuse treatment if recommended by pretrial services.

Review of Enrique Tarrio's phone in January unlocked evidence in Proud Boys conspiracy case: prosecutors

A new court filing explains why it took prosecutors so long to bring charges against Enrique Tarrio, the national chairman of the Proud Boys, in the conspiracy case against top leadership in the violent nationalist gang who are accused of coordinating the Jan. 6, 2020 assault on the US Capitol.

Tarrio was not arrested until March 8, roughly a year after a quartet of men described by the government as “lieutenants and leaders on the ground on January 6” were charged in the conspiracy. The superseding indictment unveiled with Tarrio’s arrest also added Dominic Pezzola, who was previously charged in a separate indictment with using a stolen police riot shield to bash open a window at the Capitol, to the Proud Boys leadership conspiracy case.

Ethan Nordean and Zachary Rehl, two of Tarrio’s codefendants, have sought to have their cases severed, while complaining about their pretrial detention. In a brief filed late Wednesday, prosecutors argue that the six co-conspirators charged in the most recent superseding indictment should be tried together. Prosecutors also argued that “the government acted expeditiously to secure” the more recent superseding indictment “based on the recently discovered evidence.”

Tarrio was arrested in Washington, DC two days prior to the assault on the US Capitol and charged with destruction of property for his role in burning a Black Lives Matter flag during a previous rally on Dec. 12, 2020 and for possession of two large-capacity magazines. Police seized Tarrio’s phone during his Jan. 4, 2021 arrest, and prosecutors sought a search warrant to look at the contents of the phone.

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“Despite diligence, the government was not able to obtain access to Tarrio’s phone until December 2021,” prosecutors wrote in the brief filed on Wednesday. “Thereafter, a filter team was utilized to ensure that only non-privileged materials were provided to the investigative team. The investigative team did not gain access to the materials on the phone until mid-January 2022, and it has worked expeditiously since that time to review these materials.”

The brief goes on to say that the most recent superseding indictment, which charges Tarrio alongside co-defendants Nordean, Rehl, Pezzola and Charles Donohoe with conspiracy, “is based on important, newly discovered evidence recovered from Tarrio’s phone.”

One example cited by prosecutors of evidence discovered on the seized phone is a statement made by Tarrio in response to an unnamed individual who sent a document entitled “1776 Returns” outlining a plan to occupy a few “crucial buildings” in DC on Jan. 6. The individual is alleged to have said after sending the document: “The revolution is [more] important than anything.”

The brief filed on Wednesday cites Tarrio’s response: “That’s what every waking moment consists of… I’m not playing games.”

The review of Tarrio’s phone also uncovered an exchange on the encrypted MOSD Leaders chat on Jan. 3 and 4 in which a leader — who has been identified as John Charles Stewart by LNP/Lancaster Online — recommended that the “operating theater” be in front of the US Capitol building because “that’s where the vote is taking place and all the objections….” Tarrio responded in a voice chat the next morning: “I didn’t hear this voice note until now, you want to storm the Capitol.”

In a footnote in the brief that highlights the significance of Tarrio’s phone, prosecutors point out that his codefendants rebuilt their communications network in response to his arrest, arguing that they were aware that law enforcement seizure of the phone “had the potential to place them in legal jeopardy.”

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The brief notes that following Tarrio’s arrest, Donohoe created new encrypted chats for leaders and members, while advising them, “Hey have been instructed and listen to me real good! There is no planning of any sorts. I need to be put into whatever new thing is created. Everything is compromised and we can be looking at Gang charges.”

The government also noted that during a meeting in an underground parking garage with Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes on Jan. 5, Tarrio told another individual that “he had cleared all the messages on his phone before he was arrested” and “no one else would be able to get into his phone because there were ‘two steps’ to get into it.”

The brief filed on Wednesday reiterated a previous statement that the government is still evaluating whether to add additional defendants and charges in a new superseding indictment.

“Were the government to supersede before trial,” prosecutors argued, “any additional charges would overlap substantially with the conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding charge that has been at the heart of this prosecution since its inception.”

The government has previously stated that any charges against new defendants are likely to be filed by May 20.

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Government re-starts prosecution of violent white supremacist group Rise Above Movement

The government is resuming its prosecution of four members of the violent white supremacist group Rise Above Movement, although two of the defendants, including co-founder Robert Rundo, have apparently disappeared.

Rundo and fellow Rise Above Movement members Robert Boman, Aaron Eason and Tyler Laube were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to violate the Anti-Riot Act in California in November 2018, but a federal judge dismissed the indictment finding that provisions of the law unconstitutionally violated the First Amendment. A panel of appellate judges reversed the lower court decision in March 2021, and remanded the case back to the district court in the Central District of California.

The government reopened the case on Feb. 10, and Laube and Eason appeared before Judge Cormac J. Carney on March 3. Court documents indicate that Rundo and Boman were not present for the hearing. The two men’s lawyers have been unable to reach them since the Ninth Circuit’s reversal last spring, according to a recent government filing.

As recently as December 2021, the investigative collective Bellingcat has reported that Rundo is living in Serbia. Following an initial report that Rundo was located in Serbia in November 2020, he was reportedly expelled from the country. A Ukraine-based neo-Nazi and Russian citizen named Denis Kapustin who occasionally co-hosted a podcast with Rundo, commented that Rundo was “on the run again” in October 2021, according to Bellingcat. But by December, Rundo had apparently returned to Serbia, with a reporter from the outlet claiming to have seen him doing pushups on his balcony at his apartment in Belgrade.

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Founded in southern California in 2016, Rise Above Movement members quickly made an impression by showing up at pro-Trump gatherings from Huntington Beach to Berkeley while wearing skull masks and brutally assaulting antifascist counter-protesters, and later appearing at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. in August 2017. The following spring, Rundo and other members traveled to three countries in Europe, including Ukraine, where they met with a spokesperson of the far-right National Corps party, according to the FBI.

The FBI described Rise Above Movement when the charges were initially filed in 2018 as “a combat-ready, militant group of a new nationalist white supremacy/identity movement.” The affidavit supporting charges against the four men details repeatedly cycles of martial arts trainings, followed by coordinated travel to rallies where they carried out assaults, then followed by social media postings celebrating their violence, from March through August 2017.

During a March 2017 “Make America Great Again” rally at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, rally attendees pushed and punched two journalists, according to charging documents. As one of the journalists stumbled backwards, according to the government RAM member Tyler Laube grabbed his shoulder and then punched him three times in the face. During the same rally, the government alleges, co-defendant Robert Boman caught up with one of the counter-protesters, who had been fleeing, and kicked him in the back. The FBI affidavit supporting charges also describes co-founder Robert Rundo running up behind a counter-protester, punching him in the back of the head, grabbing the back of his neck and throwing him to the ground.

“Rundo then held the counter-protester down with his left hand and threw several punches at the counter-protester’s head while other RAM members looked on, cheered, and prevented others from intervening,” the government said.

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The next month, the government alleges that co-defendant Aaron Eason rented a 12-15 passenger van to ferry RAM members from southern California to an April 15 right-wing rally in Berkeley.

During the rally, a galvanizing event for the white power movement that would come to be known as the “Battle of Berkeley,” RAM members broke through orange fencing set up to separate the opposing sides. In one of many assaults detailed in charging documents, the government alleges that Rundo began throwing punches at different people, including one person who was falling to the ground.

“According to Berkeley Police Department officers, a BPD officer saw Rundo punching the apparently defenseless person in the head, and ordered Rundo to stop, but Rundo did not respond,” the affidavit attached to the charging documents reads. “The BPD officer knocked Rundo to the ground to stop the ongoing assault, and Rundo punched the officer twice in the head before BPD officers subdued and arrested him.”

Four other RAM members, including co-founder Benjamin Daley, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to riot in a separate case brought against them for their role in not only the Huntington Beach and Berkeley rallies, but also the August 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Three of the defendants were sentenced in July 2019 and have already served out their sentences, according to information on the federal Bureau of Prisons website.

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Following Unite the Right, RAM members avoided public rallies, but continued to train in hand-to-hand combat and post videos celebrating their assaults on social media, according to the government.

In the spring of 2018, the government alleges, Rundo, Daley and fellow RAM member Michael Miselis traveled to Germany, Ukraine and Italy to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday and network with European fascist groups, the government alleges.

The charging document cites a photo of RAM members meeting with Olena Semenyaka, a leader of the National Corps, a far-right political party in Ukraine aligned with Azov Battalion. Scott Bierwirth, an FBI special agent assigned to the FBI’s counter-terrorism squad, described Azov Battalion in the 2018 affidavit supporting criminal charges against Rundo and his co-defendants as “a paramilitary unit of the Ukrainian National Guard which is known for its association with neo-Nazi ideology and use of Nazi symbolism, and which is believed to have participated in training and radicalizing United States-based white supremacy organizations.”

In May 2018, Congress outlawed the use of US funds to provide arms, training or other assistance to Azov. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) has been one of the most vocal proponents of cutting off funding to Azov in Congress. Around the time of the assistance ban, Khanna voiced opposition to providing “lethal weaponry” to Ukraine in 2018, while insisting that “we must also ensure that these weapons do not reach white supremacist elements within the Ukrainian Army, such as Azov Battalion.” In 2019, 40 members of Congress led by Rep. Max Rose (D-Calif.) unsuccessfully lobbied the State Department to designate Azov as a “foreign terrorist organization.”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, which has resulted in more than 1,000 civilian deaths and massive displacement, Azov’s role has become more politically touchy. Azov has played a crucial role in defending the besieged city of Mariupol, a strategically located port, and criticism of the battalion among Ukraine’s supporters can be viewed as playing into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s false claim that the purpose of the invasion is to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Despite falling into inactivity, Rise Above Movement continues to influence white power organizing in the United States. Ryan Sanchez, a white supremacist who was kicked out of the trucker’s convoy, publicly proclaimed his association with Rise Above Movement shortly before embarking on the convoy.

“I am proud to have known such men as Rob Rundo, Ben Daley, Tom and Michael,” Sanchez wrote on Telegram. “We must never forget our political prisoners of RAM, jailed for daring to stand against Antifa. I will never apologize for being in this picture, or knowing these men.”

Vincent James Foxx has been described by ProPublica as Rise Above Movement’s “unofficial propagandist.” While the relationship between Foxx and Rundo has recently been strained, Foxx was seen standing at the side of Groyper leader Nicholas Fuentes outside the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and recently spoke at Fuentes’ America First Political Action Conference, alongside Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.).

The government, along with the attorneys for Eason and Laube, is proposing that the trial be scheduled to start on Dec. 13, according to a joint filing by the parties on March 17. The government has turned over about 44,000 pages of discovery to the defendants, according to the filing, and the parties anticipate that the trial will take four weeks.

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Boogaloo supporter arrested outside trucker convoy encampment on gun charges

An adherent of "Boogaloo" — an anti-government movement that fetishize firearms and embraces civil war — was arrested on Thursday evening outside the entrance of the Hagerstown Speedway serving as a base camp for the group of truckers that has been making daily forays into Washington, DC to protest COVID restrictions for the past three weeks.

Brandon Glen Jackson, 28, is charged with two misdemeanor charges for carrying a loaded handgun, according to Maryland court records. He made an initial appearance in Washington County district court on Friday, and is currently being held pending a bond hearing scheduled for Monday afternoon.

Jackson was previously involved in an armed standoff outside the Arizona state capitol. Undercover officers tailed Jackson and another man, Wesley Temple, from Jackson’s home in Scottsdale to the state capitol on Dec. 7, 2020, according to a report by 12 News in Phoenix.

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Police took Temple into custody, but Jackson, who was armed with a pistol, refused to cooperate. Armored trucks and a helicopter converged on the scene as officers pointed their service weapons at Jackson, before eventually firing a flashbang and taking him into custody. The FBI confirmed to 12 News that agents were present “as part of [an] ongoing federal investigation.” Footage from the 12 News broadcast shows that Jackson and Temple were both wearing Hawaiian shirts that are a signature of boogaloo and Jackson was wearing a hat with an igloo, also symbolic of the movement.

Jackson was arrested at 8:28 p.m. on Thursday by a state trooper after Maryland State Police responded to a trespassing complaint at the speedway. Following a heated argument between Jackson and another convoy participant, a trooper asked Jackson to step aside. The scene, which was livestreamed by the 1st Responders Media YouTube channel, shows one of the troopers cuffing his hands behind his back as Jackson complains to onlookers: “Are you seeing this? I’m being arrested for offending people. Like, if this isn’t proof sh*t’s going on, I don’t know what is.”

Another trooper can be seen pulling a belly band holster out of Jackson’s pants and unveiling a concealed pistol.

“So, that’s why,” the trooper says.

During an argument prior to Jackson’s arrest, the livestream shows him arguing with man identified as “Jersey.” Another streamer, who like Jackson was wearing a Hawaiian shirt accused “Jersey” of having shoved him during a prior confrontation at their camp. “Jersey,” in turn, accused the boogaloo adherents of being “super aggressive” and “hostile.”

As the argument escalated, Jackson lamented that “Jersey” had turned on them after they had seemed to find common ground.

“I agree with trying to defend this country,” “Jersey” said. “I do not agree with getting rid of the goddamn government.”

“And if the government is corrupt?” Jackson asked.

“If the government is corrupt, we gotta drain the swamp,” “Jersey said. “That’s why we’re here.”

“Exactly,” Jackson said. “Burn it down and rebuild it. Burn it down and rebuild it.”

Trucker convoy supporters argue about boogaloo youtu.be

Earlier, as a swarm of streamers peppered Jackson with questions about his agenda and grievances, he said he and his crew had “been here from the beginning.” Later, he said, “I came in with the convoy from Arizona.” At another point in the argument, he suggested that he had joined even earlier, at the convoy’s launch in Adelanto, Calif.

Jackson and a man who goes by the nickname “Ricky Bobby” were both parked outside of the speedway on Thursday evening after having been previously kicked out of the convoy by security.

The 1st Responders Media livestream opens with a scene of “Ricky Bobby” standing atop a short school bus. Asked why he’s there, “Ricky Bobby” says he wants to ask “a couple of important questions, such as why assorted people have been kicked out, such as why there’s been a lack of transparency.”

“Ricky Bobby” can be seen during the stream conveying a request for Brandon to move his vehicle “so people can come in and out” and clapping his hand on Jackson’s shoulder as a show of support as he was speaking to a trooper.

The presence of the boogaloo contingent appears to be a source of tension within the trucker convoy encampment.

The 1st Responders Media stream also captures a different streamer interviewing “Ricky Bobby” and remarking that “the biggest debacle I’ve heard with the whole situation is something to do with boogaloo group,” and then suggesting, “You may need to publicly denounce any ties with that group.”

“Ricky Bobby” responded: “I’m not tied with them, but I do have brothers, people who I’ve brought into my home here, you know, who supported them. I don’t think that they are — I know that they aren’t an extreme organization. They go to events to make sure that the peace is maintained. You can do your research. If things get out of hand after they’re trying to keep things peaceful, then they’re there to protect the people. And I feel like I’m here to protect the people. I’m not a boog, but I can align with some of their ideas of, you know, protecting the people and trying to do right by the people.”

Boogaloo adherents have a history of attempting to coopt both the far-right and far-left through efforts to latch on to the COVID denialist movement by emphasizing libertarian values, while highlighting anti-police messaging to align with the Black Lives Matter movements. Due to both the boogaloo movement’s hyper-violent image and its ideological slipperiness, adherents have been greeted by suspicion by both the far right and left.

Responding to accusations from livestreamer Josh Fulfer that he’s a leftist, Jackson said he has volunteered for the Libertarian Party in Arizona and North Carolina.

Later, he said, “Black lives matter,” adding that he had recently attended a rally to support Breonna Taylor, a young woman killed by the police in Louisville, Ky. in 2020.

“Then you are a leftist!” Fulfer exclaimed.

“I support both sides,” Jackson said. “I’ve been at stop the steal rallies…. I’ve been part of multiple freedom events. I’m a gun rights activist. If you’d look at Arizona on my record, you’d know. Everybody from Arizona listening to this knows my record. I’m Brandon Jackson.

“I have a very good Libertarian voting record,” he added. “And I’m not a f***ing MAGA-tard. I’m not a hardcore authoritarian. I’m not a back-the-blue. I mean, these officers are doing their job and they’re doing great, but I hold people accountable. I’m a libertarian. I believe in freedom for all. I’m a free-market economics [supporter]. I believe in LGBT rights. And I’m a free-market capitalist…. I personally am an ancap — an anarcho-capitalist.”

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Cop among first to squeal when neo-Nazi terror cell busted for plot to attack the power grid

Two members of an accelerationist neo-Nazi terror network accused of plotting to attack the power grid in preparation for an assassination campaign have pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with the government’s prosecution.

Paul James Kryscuk, a former porn actor who used the alias “Deacon” while active in the neo-Nazi group BSN from 2017 through 2020, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to damage an energy facility on Feb. 10, with the possibility of receiving a reduction from a 15-year prison sentence in exchange for “substantial assistance” in the government’s prosecution in the case.

Following Kryscuk’s plea, Marine Corps veteran Justin Wade Hermanson aka “Sandman” entered a guilty plea for conspiracy to illegally manufacture, ship, transport and receive firearms on March 8. Like Kryscuk, Hermanson’s plea deal includes an agreement to cooperate with the government’s investigation and testify against his codefendants should they go to trial. Both men pleaded in the Eastern District of North Carolina, where the case is being tried.

Three codefendants, including BSN leader Liam Montgomery Collins, have yet to be arraigned on charges from a third superseding indictment that include multiple counts of conspiracy to illegally manufacture and transport firearms, and destruction of an energy facility.

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Collins and Kryscuk met through Iron March, an international online forum set up to facilitate networking by violent neo-Nazis.

“I have a tightknit crew of ex-Mil and Security I train with,” Collins wrote in a post on Iron March in August 2017, the same month he entered basic training for the Marine Corps. “We do hikes, gym sessions, live firing exercises, and we eventually plan to buy a lot of land. Can’t really specify the name or details because it’s an inner-circle thing, but it will serve its purpose when the time comes. Think of it as a modern-day SS.”

In 2017, Kryscuk outlined a plan for launching a race war that he hoped would lay the groundwork for a future white ethno-state in a post on Iron March, according to the indictment: “First order of business is knocking down The System, mounting it and smashing its face until it has been beaten past the point of death… eventually we will have to bring the rifles out and go to work…. We will have to hit the streets and strike as many blows to the remaining power structure as we can to keep it on the ropes.”

Jordan Duncan, also a Marine Corps veteran, and Joseph Maurino, a member of the New Jersey National Guard who was previously deployed to Qatar, are also defendants in the conspiracy case.

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All five defendants were charged in a superseding indictment unveiled in August 2021 with conspiracy to illegally manufacture and transport firearms as part of a plot to instigate civil disorder. The indictment also charged all the defendants, with the exception of Hermanson, with conspiracy to sabotage the power grid. It is unclear why Hermanson was not included.

The indictment describes the purpose of the attack on the power grid as “creating general chaos and to provide cover and ease of escape in those areas in which they planned to undertake assassinations and other desired operations to further their goal of creating a white ethno-state.”

Led by Kryscuk, the members of BSN began to relocate to Boise, Idaho in early 2020 and conducted a live-fire training there in July of that year. When Kryscuk was arrested in October 2020, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza disclosed that the FBI notified her that her name was on a list found at Kryscuk’s home.

While the broad outlines of the plot by BSN have been known for some time, testimony by a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigation Service, or NCIS, that has not been previously reported provides additional detail about members of the terror network, its targets and tactics discussed to carry out the campaign.

Testifying during Mauro’s detention hearing in Wilmington, NC in August 2021, Special Agent Chris Little told Chief District Judge Richard E. Myers II that a former police officer described to him how the group discussed the Metcalf sniper attack, in which six individuals with AK-47 assault rifles shot out 17 transformers at a substation near San Jose, Calif. that provided electricity to Silicon Valley, as a model for the attack the group hoped to carry out.

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Joseph Zacharek, the witness who described the discussion to Little, joined BSN in the fall of 2017 and remained involved until October 2020, when Kryscuk and Collins were arrested by the FBI, Little told the court. Little also told the court that Zacharek, whom he identified by his last name, was a police officer.

A former Army tank crewman, Zacharek joined the Lafayette Police Department in Indiana as a probationary recruit in June 2020, as a wave of protests against racist policing prompted by the murder of George Floyd swept the country. On Oct. 16, 2020, an antifascist researcher doxed Zacharek, revealing that he was a member of Iron March, the same neo-Nazi online forum where Collins and Kryscuk had met. In his bio for Iron March, Zacharek reportedly claimed an interest “in (National Socialist) economics as a way of throwing off the chains of usury and Jewish owned banking,” while reportedly sharing on the site: “It wasn’t until I started working as an EMT in the inner city that I openly questioned the view that all races are equal.”

Within 24 hours of the dox, the Lafayette Police Department announced that Zacharek had been fired.

What was unknown at the time was that Zacharek was also involved with the neo-Nazi terror network set up by Collins and Kryscuk. Although the two men had been indicted on Oct. 14, it would be another eight days before the charges were unveiled.

During the August 2021 hearing, Little testified that Zacharek exchanged text messages with Duncan about how he was going to handle getting doxed.

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“Mr. Duncan appeared to be encouraging him to get to Boise, and that’s what Mr. Duncan understood the plan to be,” Little testified. “And it — from being able to communicate with Mr. Zacharek, that stressed him out. He became scared and concerned at that point of being — because of being publicly outed and what that meant within the group.

“He was afraid that the group would think he had talked or given information to law enforcement, and he feared retribution,” Little added.

Law enforcement found Zacharek at his parents’ home in upstate New York around the same time Kryscuk, Collins and Duncan were arrested, Little testified. He began cooperating with law enforcement immediately.

Little also told the court about a Marine named Maxwell Womack, who began providing information about BSN to the FBI and the NCIS in October 2020. Womack had served in the same Marine Corps unit as Collins and Hermanson, and was recruited into the group by the two men, Little testified. Womack has not been charged.

Little testified that Zacharek’s description of the group’s discussion of attacks on the power grid was corroborated by Womack’s description of a video reenactment made by members of BSN.

Charging documents also reference another unindicted co-conspirator identified by the initials “TC.” Little said he reviewed a photograph in which the image of Kryscuk, Duncan, Maurino and “TC” standing together was superimposed on a panoramic view of a large electrical tower. And according to the indictment, Kryscuk passed on information collected by Duncan about explosives to “TC,” and encouraged him to build explosive devices.

Little told the court that “TC” is Collins’ juvenile younger brother. During the same hearing in August 2018, Damon Chetson, the lawyer representing Maurino, said “TC” was facing state charges in Rhode Island.

During the summer of 2020, the government alleges, the neo-Nazi terror cell stalked Black Lives Matter in Boise and openly discussed acting out violent fantasies. The plans to attack the power grid were specifically tied to BSN’s antagonism towards Black Lives Matter, Little told the court.

Little testified about text messages he reviewed in which Kryscuk said he had torn down BLM fliers and wanted to replace it with BSN’s propaganda. According to Little, Maurino suggested a slogan: “The lights go out and so do you.”

“This is significant to me because of the statements made by Mr. Hermanson regarding how the group discussed the use of power outages in their — what he described as operations,” Little testified. “This would be creating an outage that diverts the police, causes chaos from the outage itself, causes damage to equipment, takes a long time to replace and causes an outage of significant length; and then using that to create a favorable operating environment to conduct an assassination or murder of specific person.”

Little testified that Kryscuk carried an envelope with a list of intersections that coincided with power substations in Boise; Portland, Ore., Seattle, San Francisco and other locations in California, along with a fuel depot. On the other side of the envelope, he had written the names of 12-14 individuals, Little said. Kryscuk had screenshots of the addresses for some of the targets, Little testified. One of the addresses, in San Francisco, was “in close proximity” to multiple power substations on the first list.

While the national leadership of Black Lives Matter has previously been identified as a target of the assassination plot, Little also testified that the list included the governor of Oregon, who is Kate Brown, and other local and state politicians. During the hearing, Chetson said one of the targets was an Associated Press reporter.

“I believe it’s a, we’re going to us this to accelerate the fall and make it happen,” Little told the court. “I see that as just from the consistent ideology within the group as far as accelerating and creating that, by using these types of operations to create that kind of chaos, but I do not know of a specific date that was set to do it.”

The FBI did not arrest Hermanson until January 2021 and Maurino until June 2021. Both appear to have provided information to investigators following the arrests of their co-defendants Collins, Kryscuk and Duncan in October 2020.

Following his arrest in New Jersey on state firearms charges, Maurino admitted to an FBI agent during an Oct. 23, 2020 interview that he was “Bishop,” the code name he used in encrypted chats with other BSN members, Chetson said. His lawyer added that Maurino was scheduled to serve at a mass vaccination site in January 2021, but he was administratively discharged from the National Guard after his officers learned about the FBI investigation.

“In February — or March rather — the government simultaneously is engaging in interviews with Hermanson,” Chetson told the court. “They have a conversation with Mr. Hermanson back in October and I think he’s in Okinawa. During that — they spell out for him, you know, you know you can help yourself. Mr. Hermanson begins talking to the government…. Mr. Hermanson tells them things about my client, I’m assuming.”

Consistent with Chetson’s account, much of Little’s testimony during the August 2021 hearing cited Hermanson, who pleaded guilty earlier this month to a single charge of conspiracy to illegally manufacture and transport firearms.

Little testified that he asked Hermanson about the list of assassination targets. Hermanson told the investigator, according to Little’s testimony, that Kryscuk made comments to the group — including Zacharek, the probationary police officer — “that for the group to accomplish their goals, people would have to die.” Asked how they would carry out the murders, according to Little, Hermanson said that Kryscuk told them: “Don’t worry about it. I have a list of 12 to 14 people that we will check off the list.” Or he said, “We will check them off the list.”

Little also testified that, according to Hermanson, he and Kryscuk extensively discussed techniques for using car bombs to carry out assassinations.

Little also testified that Hermanson told him about a plot by the group to infiltrate a New Jersey National Guard armory using Maurino’s uniform and identification card so they could steal M240s, which are belt-fed machine guns that require two people to operate. Collins, BSN’s leader, told Hermanson, according to Little, “that there were two guards that they would need to kill to gain access.” In September 2020, a month before his arrest, Collins traveled from Camp Lejeune in North Carolina to Maurino’s house in New Jersey, although Little said he did not know the reason for the visit.

The purpose of Special Agent Little’s testimony in August 2021 was to support the government’s request to hold Maurino in pre-trial detention.

Little testified that he was concerned about Maurino’s potential access to weapons, adding that there were a number of firearms components like a folding stock lower and lower receivers without serial numbers mentioned by Maurino in encrypted Signal chats that had not been recovered.

But Judge Myers, a Trump appointee, made light of some of the government’s evidence — a chat from a Signal thread that Little described as a list of weapons possessed by Maurino.

“I’ll need a list of ammo to get, and then, I got seven Mack 11s,” Assistant US Attorney Barbara Kocher recited. “And then my copy is illegible. To the right, it says, about eight, I think 38s, nine 9s.”

Following Little’s testimony, Judge Myers said, “I’ve got a follow-up question about the Biggie Smalls lyric.”

Both Kocher and Little said they were unfamiliar with the lyrics.

“There’s a lot of other stuff going on here, but that particular one is not compelling,” Myers said. “So, I’ll pass that on for what it’s worth.”

Myers ordered Maurino released to home incarceration in the custody of his mother, later modified to home detention, based on the observation that the defendant had given no indications that he posed a flight risk or a danger to the community in the eight months prior to his arrest when he knew he was under investigation.

As a final accommodation, Judge Myers granted Maurino’s request to travel next week to an Italian restaurant in Old Bridge, NJ to celebrate a christening for the child of his cousin.

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MAGA-rioting Three Percenter pleads guilty to assaulting DC Metro police officer with a pole

A Texas Three Percenter militia leader is pleading guilty to assaulting an DC Metropolitan police officer on the US Capitol grounds on Jan. 6, 2021.

Lucas Denney, the 44-year-old president of the Patriot Boys militia, admitted in federal court on Thursday that he forcibly struck an officer with a PVC pole during a skirmish between pro-Trump rioters and officers in front of the Capitol.

According to a statement of offense submitted by the government today, rioters were throwing debris at the police and Denney worked his way through the crowd attempted to grab a canister of crowd-control spray from the officer who was periodically deploying it. Then, after retreating into the crowd for about a minute, Denney picked up the PVC pole off the ground and swung it at the officer.

Soon afterwards, according to the government, Denney picked up a large tube and launched it into a line of officers guarding the west side of the Capitol building. The incident prompted online sleuths to give Denney the moniker #PoleTosser.

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Before Denney entered his plea on Thursday, Assistant US Attorney Jennifer Rozzoni told Judge Randolph Moss that the government has not decided whether to pursued additional charges against Denney related to the Jan. 6 assault on the US Capitol. Although the indictment includes only the single charge of assaulting an officer, the initial complaint included several other offenses, including conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.

Donald Hazard, described as the sergeant of arms of the Patriot Boys, was also charged with conspiracy alongside Denney, although Hazard has waived his rights under the Speedy Trial Act.

Denney indicated during his plea hearing on Thursday that he was surprised to learn that by pleading to the single assault charge he wasn’t foreclosing on the possibility that the government could come back with additional charges.

“I didn’t know that, no sir,” Denney told Judge Moss.

Moss declared a recess so that Denney could confer with his lawyers for about 20 minutes before proceeding with the pleading.

Denney’s lawyer, Bill Shipley, interrupted Moss while the judge was warning the defendant that he could still face legal jeopardy. Shipley, a former prosecutor, told Moss that the appellate courts are currently split on whether the government can bring additional charges in cases similar to this one, adding that the DC circuit has not addressed it, and the US Supreme Court has declined to resolve the matter.

Denney’s case is complicated by the fact that the government admitted to violating his rights under the Speedy Trial Act and hastily obtained an indictment for a single charge to prevent the defendant’s release and the dismissal of charges.

Regardless of whether the government brings additional charges, Denney acknowledged on Thursday that the court could consider uncharged conduct when he comes back for sentencing in June. Denney acknowledged that his sentence could be enhanced because the victim is an official and because he brandished a dangerous weapon, while he could receive a reduction because he is accepting responsibility and because he has no criminal history.

The defense and government have submitted varying estimates of the prison time and fines Denney will face, based on different interpretations of the sentencing guidelines. The defense estimated Denney could serve 41 to 51 months in prison with a fine ranging from $15,000 to $100,000, while the government estimated that it could range from 57 to 71 months while the fine could range from $20,000 to $200,000.

Prosecutors unveil 'overwhelming' evidence in Jan. 6 conspiracy case against Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio

The government sharpened its case against Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, arguing in a memo in support of pretrial detention on Monday that he “imposed a command-and-control structure” on a newly created “national rally planning” chapter set up to carry out the attack.

Tarrio, who was the national chairman of the Proud Boys at the time of the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol, went before a federal judge in Miami for a detention and removal hearing on Tuesday morning. At the hearing’s conclusion, Magistrate Judge Lauren F. Louis ordered Tarrio to remain jailed while awaiting arraignment on his charges in the District of Columbia.

The court filing provides new details about Tarrio’s role in setting up a series of encrypted group chats under the name Ministry of Self-Defense, or MOSD, that were used to vet Proud Boys for inclusion in the operation at the US Capitol on Jan. 6. According to the government, Tarrio and other leaders “imposed a command-and-control structure on the new chapter,” which included operational and marketing councils, with leaders empowered to hand-pick Proud Boys to become members of the MOSD.

In its court filing on Monday, the government alleged that on Jan. 3, three days before the attack, one of Tarrio’s picks for the MOSD posted a message reading, “Time to stack those bodies in front of Capitol Hill.”

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Another member is alleged to have asked in the same discussion: “So are the normies and other attendees going to push thru police lines and storm the capital buildings? A few million vs A few hundred coptifa should be enough.”

The same member, according to the government, raised a scenario that turned out to be prophetic.

“What would they do [if] 1 million patriots stormed and took the capital building,” he wrote. “Shoot into the crowd? I think not.”

According to the government, an un-indicted co-conspirator labeled “Person 3” — and subsequently identified as John Charles Stewart, a member of the Operational Council — responded: “They would do nothing because they can do nothing.”

The recent court filing also provides new detail about a meeting between Tarrio and Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes at a hotel parking garage on the eve of the Capitol attack. The meeting took place after Tarrio had been released and ordered to leave DC, following his Jan. 4 arrest on charges of burning a Black Lives Matter banner stolen from a Black church. (Rhodes is currently charged with seditious conspiracy.)

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Tarrio told another individual in the parking-garage meeting that, according to the government, “he had cleared all of the messages on his phone before he was arrested” and that “no one else would be able to get into his phone because there were ‘two steps’ to get into it.”

Tarrio’s indictment hints at broader coordination between the Proud Boys and other actors involved in the effort to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election with an allegation that Tarrio received a nine-page document on Dec. 30 or Dec. 31 that outlined a plan to occupy “crucial buildings” in Washington, DC on Jan. 6.

The government argues that even after his arrest, “Tarrio continued to direct the conspiracy.” After meeting with Rhodes, the government alleges that Tarrio traveled to Baltimore and, using associates’ phones, joined new encrypted chats for MOSD leaders and members that were set up after the original chats were shut down following his arrest. According to the government, Tarrio posted at least one message to the New MOSD Leaders Group chat shortly after midnight on Jan. 6.

The government alleges that the communications in the encrypted chats clearly show that Ethan Nordean and Joe Biggs, Tarrio’s codefendants were designated “to take charge on the ground.” The two men can be seen in video filmed by Proud Boy Eddie Block leading hundreds of Proud Boys from the Washington Monument to the Capitol on Jan. 6. The government alleges that Nordean and Biggs were continuously “coordinating” with and “deferring to Tarrio.” As evidence, the government cites a message posted by Biggs in the MOSD Leaders Group chat at 9:17 p.m. on Jan. 5: “Just spoke with Enrique.”

READ MORE: Indictment of Proud Boys leader hints at coordination with other insurrection actors

The court filing also quotes Biggs as saying, “I gave Enrique a plan. The one I told the guys and he said he had one.”

It remains unknown who provided the nine-page document outlining plans to occupy government buildings to Tarrio.

But the government’s prosecution points to Stewart, a member of the Operational Council, as a person who helped the Proud Boys settle on the Capitol building as a target. According to the indictment, Tarrio stated in the MOSD Leaders Group that he wanted to wait until Jan. 4 to make final plans.

Apparently ignoring Tarrio’s wishes, Stewart — identified in the indictment as “Person 3” — posted a voice note in the chat at 7:10 p.m. on Jan. 3 that used military language: “I mean the main operating theater should be out in front of the house of representatives. It should be out in front of the Capitol building. That’s where the vote is taking place and all of the objections. So, we can ignore the rest of these stages and all that sh*t and plan the operations based around the front entrance to the Capitol building. I strongly recommend you use the national mall and not Pennsylvania avenue though. It’s a wide open space, you can see everything coming from all angles.”

The following day, Tarrio acknowledged Stewart’s recommendations, according to the government, raising no objections.

“I didn’t hear this voice note until now, you want to storm the Capitol,” he said according to the government.

Like Tarrio, Stewart was not present in Washington, DC on Jan. 6. Two Proud Boys, one former and another current, told LNP/Lancaster News that Stewart was in the hospital dealing with a medical issue. At the time of Tarrio’s arrest on March 8, the government had a search warrant for Stewart’s home in Carlisle, Pa. to collect evidence.

The government argued on Monday that Tarrio should remain in jail pending trial because he is a risk to the safety of the community and a flight risk. The government also said Tarrio is a risk for obstructing justice based on “public comments aimed at chilling witnesses against his co-conspirators.”

As evidence, the government cited a story by Reuters reporting that Tarrio sent a voice message to Proud Boys around the country, saying, “The moment that they think one of the guys flipped, it throws everything off and it makes everybody turn on each other, and that’s what we are trying to f***ing avoid.”

Along with codefendants Nordean, Biggs, Charles Donohoe, Zach Rehl and Dominic Pezzola, Tarrio is set to be arraigned by Judge Timothy Kelly in federal court in the District of Columbia on March 22.

The government argued that the evidence against Tarrio is “overwhelming,” while calling him “a danger to the community.”

The government alleges that Tarrio posted in the encrypted chat groups throughout the day on Jan. 6, and after the attack wrote, “They’ll fear us doing it again.”

When one member asked what they should do next, Tarrio reportedly responded at 4:14 p.m.: “Do it again.”