Ron Filipowski is one of my favorite ex-Republican media pundits to follow on Twitter; the guy-- a former Marine and state and federal prosecutor, is brutal. This morning, writing for the Washington Post, he noted that Trump's die-hard base isn't even hiding their sedition. He wrote that he's been monitoring the "extremist elements that were taking control of the Republican Party" before the 2020 election. He's talking about insurrectionists and white nationalists and old fashioned racists like Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, the My Pillow Guy, Alex Jones, Charlie Kirk, Michael Flynn... and beyond.
After Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet-- "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"-- the reaction of those Filipowski was monitoring "cannot," he wrote, "be understated. They viewed it as an order, a call to arms. They began planning... On Dec. 30, a week before the 'wild' protest, a leading figure of the Proud Boys, Joe Biggs, posted his group’s intent on Parler: “Attn: DC ANTIFA. We will not be attending DC in colors. We will be blending in as one of you. You won’t see us. You’ll even think we are you. We are going to smell like you. Move like you and look like you. The only thing we will do that’s us! Is think like us! Jan 6th is gonna be epic.”
We follow influencers and organizations wherever they are on social media-- Facebook, Twitter, Parler, Gab, Telegram, YouTube, Gettr, Rumble, Frank Speech and other, darker places.
What we’re seeing is that many of the activists and influencers who promoted and attended the rally that became the violent attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s election have now turned their attention to three primary targets: school boards, city and county commissions, and secretaries of state and supervisors of elections. The new endeavors give the appearance of grass-roots efforts but feature familiar characters teaming up with organizations long involved with financing and leading disruptions, protests and disinformation campaigns on a variety of issues-- organizations like Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute, the Council for National Policy, Turning Point USA, the Heritage Foundation’s Action branch and Liberty Counsel. What’s more, some of these activists have harnessed the anger, fear and resentment they have helped churn up and are using it for their personal and financial benefit. We began noticing this shift between February and March, as these leaders launched new websites, created new business entities, and restarted their events and rallies.
Figures like Stephen Bannon, Roger Stone, Alex Jones, Charlie Kirk and Flynn are regulars on the circuit mobilizing people to take on local governments. Bannon’s War Room podcast has promoted and featured potential candidates who have visited and trained on the Precinct Strategy website, which provides information and tools for becoming voting precinct captains and committeemen. People in these roles, although not often talked about, can be powerful decision-makers in local and state elections. As the Washington Post recently reported, Trump supporters are using similar strategies to replace officials in a multitude of local and state offices, “including volunteer poll watchers, paid precinct judges, elected county clerks and state attorneys general.”
...Here is a sampling from our monitoring efforts over the last several months, featuring subjects such as the tyranny of masks, the glory of guns and the “big lie.”
“Pastors, you can talk about the Constitution from the pulpit.” In an Oct. 29 episode of “His Glory” on pro-Trump Brighteon.tv hosted by pastor David Scarlett, Flynn sounded a frequent theme: urging pastors to bring politics into churches, even though such activity is largely prohibited by the tax code.
“No one can convince me that Georgia’s a blue state.” Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) is most likely going to be the GOP nominee for Georgia secretary of state, and if he wins the office he will be in charge of regulating and certifying the 2024 election. In a Sept. 28 appearance on the Real America’s Voice network, host John Fredericks asked him, “Do you think Trump won Georgia?” Hice responded, “Yeah, I mean, obviously the audit is going to show that.” He went on to say, “I don’t believe, not for one moment, that Georgia is blue, but for election irregularities and fraudulent activity.”
“I’m going in with 20 strong men.” Pennsylvania Republican Steve Lynch, during his losing campaign for Northampton County executive, made threats toward state school board officials who supported mask mandates: “Forget going into these school boards with freaking data,” he said at an Aug. 29 rally. “You go in to these school boards to remove them... I’m going in with 20 strong men... and I’m going to give them an option-- they can leave or they can be removed.”
“When do we get to use the guns?” At an October stop in Idaho on Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA tour, an audience member cut to the chase in a Q&A session: “When do we get to use the guns?... How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?” Kirk responded, “I’m going to denounce that,” adding, “You’re playing into all their plans.”
“Trump is the president.” At an April 24 rally featuring Stone and Flynn in Bradenton, Fla., Flynn nodded to the “big lie” that Trump won the election. Flynn was introduced as “the future 47th president of the United States.”
“Where the lines are drawn can determine the outcome of elections before anyone even votes.” Republicans are counting on voter suppression laws and gerrymandering to give them minority rule in the next decade. In a video from Sept. 16, Pam Kirby, first vice chair of the Arizona Republican Party, said the quiet part out loud in her call for people to show up at public hearings on redistricting and “let your voices be heard.”
“The health tyranny that we’re facing in this country.” A Sept. 12 event in Sarasota, Fla., featured a doctor mass-signing medical exemptions for people who did not want to comply with mask mandates. In footage from the event, Flynn talks about those attending and says, “What everybody is looking at is why all of this imposition by the federal government into our health conditions here as American citizens is totally unconstitutional and it is immoral.”
“I’m thankful that today is ‘Free Kyle Rittenhouse Day’!” Martin Hyde, a British expat running for Congress, made this statement before the Sarasota School Board on Nov. 16. Hyde hired Stone as a campaign consultant and is endorsed by Flynn, who posted approvingly on Gettr about comments Hyde made before the board in August, saying that his son was “100 percent not going to” wear a mandated mask to school and that “this is America, not North Korea.”
“We’re going back to the Capitol.” Matt Braynard, who briefly worked for Trump’s first campaign, appeared on Bannon’s “War Room” show in July to announce a Sept. 18 rally to “push back against the phony narrative” that Jan. 6 was an insurrection. “It’s going to be huge,” he said. This event, at least, was basically a bust.
“Civil war is coming, people, get your guns.” At an anti-mask protest in Santa Monica on Aug. 29, ahead of a Los Angeles City Council vote on mandates, activist Jason Lefkowitz displayed the addresses of council members and promised that whomever of them voted yes on the mask mandate, “we’re coming for you now.”
Yesterday, also at the Washington Post, regular reporters Emma Brown, Jon Swaine, Jacqueline Alemany, Josh Dawsey and Tom Hamburger wrote about the insurrection PowerPoint that Meadows handed over to the select committee. It was circulated by a retired Army colonel, Phil Waldron and the purpose was "to challenge the 2020 election, including by declaring a national security emergency and seizing paper ballots. He admits that he "visited the White House on multiple occasions after the election, spoke with President Donald Trump’s chief of staff 'maybe eight to 10 times' and briefed several members of Congress on the eve of the Jan. 6 riot." Waldron claims the election needed to be overturned because of foreign interference. The PowerPoint was delivered to Meadows on January 5th but Meadows did not call the FBI or Secret Service to report it.
The quintet of Post reporters wrote that "The PowerPoint circulated by Waldron included proposals for Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6 to reject electors from 'states where fraud occurred' or replace them with Republican electors. It included a third proposal in which the certification of Joe Biden’s victory was to be delayed, and U.S. marshals and National Guard troops were to help 'secure' and count paper ballots in key states.
Waldron’s account of his interactions with the White House, together with a 36-page version of the presentation that surfaced online this week and was reviewed by The Post, shed new light on the wild theories and proposals that circulated among the people advising Trump as they worked to overturn his election defeat, causing a crisis at the heart of government. They suggest that Meadows, who also pressed senior Justice Department leaders to investigate baseless conspiracy theories about election fraud, was more directly in contact with proponents of such theories than was previously known.
Waldron, a cybersecurity consultant who specialized in psychological operations during his military career, said that a meeting he and others had with Meadows in the days around Christmas turned to questions about how to determine whether the election had been hacked. He said Meadows asked, “What do you need? What would help?” Waldron said his team developed a list for Meadows with information on IP addresses, servers and other data that he believed needed to be investigated “using the powers of the world’s greatest national security intelligence apparatus.”
...Waldron said that he and Meadows “weren’t pen pals” and that their communication was often through Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who sometimes asked him to “explain this to Mark” over the phone. Giuliani did not respond to requests for comment.
Waldron told The Post that he also attended a Nov. 25 meeting with Trump and several Pennsylvania legislators in the Oval Office. A person familiar with that meeting confirmed Waldron’s presence.
Waldron said he also once briefed Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at the White House, in the chief of staff’s office, with Giuliani present. Graham did not respond to a request for comment.
In early January, Waldron was working alongside Trump’s attorneys Giuliani and John Eastman from a suite at the Willard hotel in downtown Washington, gathering purported evidence of election fraud, The Post previously reported. Waldron was a supporting witness for Giuliani at hearings on election fraud held by lawmakers in battleground states after the 2020 vote.
...The role played after the election by Waldron is another example of how the president aligned himself with a cast of fringe personalities as he worked to sabotage the U.S. democratic process.
Waldron said in the interview that he traveled to Washington around Nov. 9 or 10, 2020, and first met a few days later with Giuliani and Giuliani’s associate Bernard Kerik, a former New York City police commissioner.
Waldron said he joined the Pennsylvania lawmakers in the Nov. 25 meeting with Trump in the Oval Office. During that period, the president was meeting with legislators from key states and urging them to reject the official vote counts in their states, according to previous reports.
...Waldron said he went on to brief Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Johnson’s staff ahead of a Dec. 16 hearing on election fraud by the Senate Homeland Security Committee. In a statement to The Post on Friday, Johnson did not directly address whether Waldron had briefed him and his staff. “My staff took meetings from many who could offer their expertise on election security and to hear from those who had concerns about irregularities ahead of my December 16, 2020, hearing,” he said.
Waldron said that on Jan. 5 he was among about a half-dozen people who briefed several members of Congress in a congressional office. He declined to identify the members without their permission and said that others may have joined by video. The members were “shocked” by the presentation but did not commit to any action, Waldron recalled.
Waldron shared the 36-page presentation with the hosts of a conservative podcast and an online talk show later in January and discussed parts of it in interviews with them.
Waldron, 57, who is based in Dripping Springs, Tex., told The Post that before the election, he started working with the Texas company Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG). Russell J. Ramsland Jr., ASOG’s leader, was also photographed at the Willard in the days before the riot, and Eastman told The Post that he met Ramsland around that time. Over the previous two years, the firm promoted claims about the dangers of electronic voting to a procession of conservative lawmakers, activists and donors, The Post has reported.
Ramsland said in an email to The Post that he did not know who put the PowerPoint presentation together or who sent it to Meadows. He did not answer a question about his presence at the Willard or his relationship to Giuliani’s team.
In 2018 and 2019, when Meadows was a congressman from North Carolina, his campaign paid ASOG more than $700 for “security services,” according to campaign finance disclosures.
...Since January, Waldron has built a significant following among Trump supporters by continuing to spread false claims about election fraud, including onstage at an August conference hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.
Waldron also has promoted the ongoing campaign for “audits” of the 2020 election, including the Republican-commissioned review of 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, Ariz.
Arizona Senate President Karen Fann consulted Waldron in deciding to hire the Florida firm Cyber Ninjas to conduct that review, according to text messages that the nonprofit American Oversight obtained through a public records request.
I wonder which other members of Congress Waldron briefed besides Linday Graham and Ron Johnson. Like Meadows, none of them informed the FBI or Secret Service.