The second was that there were enough people at the Capitol that afternoon to overwhelm the Capitol Police who were protecting the building and force their way inside. Had two dozen people shown up Jan. 6 to protest the counting of electoral votes in the presidential election, there’s no violence and the police officer and four others who died that day would likely still be alive.
While presenting their case that Trump incited the day’s violence at the former president’s impeachment trial on Wednesday, House impeachment manager Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) raised an intriguing point. At some point, the decision was made to direct attendees at the rally outside of the White House toward the Capitol that day, ensuring a critical mass of people that might not otherwise have been there. Why? When did that particular decision emerge?
A review of the available evidence and prior reporting indicates how that plan was developed — but not necessarily who made it.
Here’s what we know happened, starting the month prior.
On Dec. 19, five days after the electoral votes had been cast in all 50 states, Trump first drew the public’s attention to the day those votes would be counted.
There would be a “big protest in D.C. on January 6th,” he wrote on Twitter. “Be there, will be wild!”
The next day, someone registered the domain WildProtest.com, leveraging Trump’s tweet to promote an event that does not appear to have existed previously. It appears to have been the brainchild of Ali Alexander, a far-right provocateur who was also the driving force behind StopTheSteal.com, a lucrative group leveraging Trump’s claims about voter fraud.
The location of the “wild protest” moved slightly, but by Dec. 31 the protest still had the same general logistics: meeting just northeast of the Capitol at 10 a.m. for an hours-long rally with various right-wing speakers.
Trump leaned into promoting the nebulously identified protest, tweeting repeated enticements for supporters to attend.
“The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C., will take place at 11.00 A.M. on January 6th,” he wrote in one tweet. “Locational details to follow.”
The next day, those details appeared to emerge. Amy Kremer of the group Women for America First announced that her group would be holding a rally at the Ellipse, just south of the White House.
In an interview on One America News, her daughter Kylie Kremer was vague about whether Trump would make an appearance — though she strongly suggested he might.
Behind the scenes, the White House was likely already intimately involved.
“At the turn of the year,” the New York Times reported earlier this month, “Mr. Trump decided to join the rally himself, and the event effectively became a White House production, with several people close to the administration and the Trump campaign joining the team.”
Trump himself was actively involved in decision-making, according to the Times report: “The president discussed the speaking lineup, as well as the music to be played, according to a person with direct knowledge of the conversations.”
The following day, Trump made clear that he would attend the Women for Trump rally.
“I will be there,” he tweeted, sharing a promotional tweet from Kylie Kremer. “Historic day!”
Trump’s involvement in the rally at the Ellipse meant booting some of the originally slated speakers. Dustin Stockton, a former Breitbart employee who was helping plan the event, helped find space for them at a rally the prior evening, which had been organized by a group called the 80…