Congress

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has focused some of its early work on the planning of the rally at which President Donald Trump told his supporters to “fight like hell.” The rally, held that morning and planned by former White House and campaign aides, became a staging ground for hundreds of supporters who marched to the Capitol, pushed past police and broke inside.

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What the committee still doesn’t know — or at least hasn’t revealed publicly — is whether Trump and the organizers of the rally, along with Republican members of Congress, were in touch with protesters who later breached the Capitol or aware of plans for violence. Around 800 people eventually busted through windows and doors and interrupted the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory, repeating Trump's false claims that he had won the election.

But there were strong signals of what was to take place, starting with Trump’s December tweet promising that the Jan. 6 event would be “wild” and encouraging supporters to come. In the weeks and days beforehand, some people — including those from far-right militant groups — planned for violence openly online. And when they arrived, some wore tactical gear as if prepared for battle.

“Why would you bring bear spray, Kevlar vests, and other items to a peaceful rally?” asked Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee’s chairman, in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. Thompson says there were people who came to Washington just for the rally, and others who came “to do just what happened here at the Capitol.”

As part of the probe, the committee is looking at what members of Congress knew about the event. Some lawmakers spoke at the rally, while others helped plan it. Thompson said that “we’re not there yet” in terms of reaching any conclusions, but added that there is “a school of thought that there were some people who misinformed as to what was happening on Jan. 6” as they encouraged Trump supporters to attend.

A look at what we know, and what we don’t, about the rally’s planning as the committee investigates:

WHAT WE KNOW

The committee has subpoenaed 13 people associated with the rally on the National Mall that morning and a smaller one that had been planned next to the Capitol. Almost all of the people subpoenaed were listed on the permit for the Mall event, where Trump told his supporters that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Republican members of Congress, including Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks and North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn, also spoke at the rally. Brooks told the crowd to “stop at the Capitol” before they went home and that “today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass.”

Most of the rally’s organizers had worked on Trump’s presidential campaign or in his administration, and the White House coordinated with them starting in mid-December, according to two people familiar with the planning who requested anonymity to discuss it. The permit for the rally was issued to Women for America First, a pro-Trump group with roots in the tea party movement.

As the event was underway and as Trump was speaking, a large group of people made its way to the Capitol, among them members of far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who forcibly entered. Some dressed in tactical vests and helmets and marched toward the door in a military-style formation.

One of the organizers who was subpoenaed, Ali Alexander, said after the riot that the intention was to direct attendees of the larger rally to march to the Capitol. In his subpoena, the panel cited media reports that Alexander had made reference “to the possible use of violence to achieve the organization’s goals” and had been in communication with the White House and members of Congress.


Video: Trump urges advisers to fight January 6th subcommittee subpoenas (CBS News)

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