Jul 12, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: How the Jan. 6 committee plans to tie Trump to extremist groups

Photo illustration of former President Donald Trump's hand pointing to the calendar date January 6th, 2021.
Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee will present evidence at its hearing on Tuesday that a tweet by former President Trump prompted pro-Trump groups to change the date they planned to converge on D.C. to Jan. 6, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: One of the central questions in the investigation has been how directly culpable Trump was in the violence committed by his supporters — something impeachment managers sought to answer in the weeks after the assault.

  • But the committee has substantial resources the impeachment managers lacked, including subpoena power and more than a year to gather evidence.

Driving the news: The committee has evidence that some pro-Trump groups had initially planned to be in D.C. in the days after President Biden's inauguration to kick off the opposition to his administration, according to a source familiar with the findings.

  • The panel will contend that a Dec. 19, 2020, tweet from Trump calling supporters to the nation's capital for a "big protest" on Jan. 6 — the now-infamous day Congress was set to certify electors — spurred supporters to change their plans, the source said.
  • At least one pro-Trump group allegedly changed its rally permit.
  • Investigators have long been examining how the tweet — in which Trump wrote, "Be there, will be wild!" — sparked a flurry of activity on pro-Trump online spaces in which extremists coalesced around Jan. 6 as their last stand.
  • The panel aims to demonstrate that the date was a blip on some groups' radar before Trump's tweet.

What we're watching: This pattern of events will be at the heart of the committee's seventh hearing on Tuesday, which will be led by Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and focused on the extremist groups that stormed the Capitol.

  • The hearing, initially scheduled for 10am ET, was pushed back to 1 pm due to last-minute changes.
  • The committee plans to reveal information about intermediaries between Trump and extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, according to committee aides.
  • The hearing is expected to focus primarily on the groups' organization and flows of information. That may be complemented by live testimony from extremism experts, according to the source.

What they're saying: Trump was "the central figure who set everything into motion" and "the person who identified Jan. 6 as the date for the big protest," Raskin said in a "Face the Nation" interview on Sunday, previewing the case the panel will make.

  • Murphy said on "Meet the Press" that the hearing will show how the Dec. 19 tweet was a "siren call" to extremist groups.
  • ”We'll talk in detail about what that caused them to do, how that caused them to organize, as well as who else was amplifying that message,” she said.
  • A Jan. 6 committee spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The bottom line: The clear message from the panel will be that Trump was the strategic mind behind Jan. 6 as the rally point for those aggrieved and seeking recourse over the 2020 election.

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