Thursday, December 9, 2021

Ali Alexander is due to testify before House Jan. 6 committee today, likely raising the issue of accountability while denying he was connected to riot

Ali Alexander

Ali Alexander, a right-wing extremist with connections to Alabama, is set to tell a Congressional hearing today that he had nothing to do with the violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol, according to a report yesterday at The New York Times (NYT).

Is that sound strategy for Alexander, who was caught on video leading a "victory or death" chant the night before the insurrection? Marcy Wheeler, who writes about legal issues at the blog Empty Wheel, has doubts. Writes Wheeler at Twitter:

This ain't going to go well for Ali Alexander, [because] I can already spot about 4 claims he made that DOJ has debunked in court filings. Didn't Roger Stone warn him how this could go?

From reporters Alan Feuer and Luke Broadwater at NYT

Ali Alexander, a prominent organizer of the Stop the Steal rally that drew supporters of President Donald J. Trump to Washington on Jan. 6, plans on Thursday to tell the House committee investigating the attack on the Capitol that he had “nothing to do with any violence or lawbreaking” that day, according to a copy of his opening statement obtained by The New York Times.

“Anyone who suggests I had anything to do with the unlawful activities on Jan. 6 is wrong,” Mr. Alexander, who pledged to supply the committee with voluminous documents, plans to say in a deposition. “They’re either mistaken or lying.”

Mr. Alexander, a provocateur who rose in right-wing circles in the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, was one of a handful of planners who put together marches and rallies around the country protesting the outcome, culminating with the one in Washington on Jan. 6 that brought together throngs of attendees who went on to violently storm the Capitol.

He attended Mr. Trump’s incendiary speech at the Ellipse near the White House that day, then marched with the crowd toward the Capitol, along with the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of Infowars and the young white nationalist Nicholas J. Fuentes, arriving, as he put it in his prepared remarks to the panel, “in the early stages of the lawbreaking.”

In recent reports, Alexander stated that he likely would testify in private, but it is not clear if that actually will be the case today: From NYT:

Late last month, the House committee issued subpoenas for both Mr. Alexander and Mr. Jones, suggesting that they might have knowledge of how the Stop the Steal rallies on Jan. 6 came together.

“We need to know who organized, planned, paid for and received funds related to those events, as well as what communications organizers had with officials in the White House and Congress,” Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the committee chairman, said at the time.

The panel is seeking information from Mr. Alexander about his connections with members of Congress and his repeated use of violent language, members said.

In the weeks before the attack, Mr. Alexander repeatedly referred during Stop the Steal events to the possible use of violence to achieve the organization’s goals, and he claimed to have been in communication with the White House and members of Congress about events planned to undermine the official count by Congress of the Electoral College results, the committee said.

Mr. Alexander has said that he, along with Representatives Mo Brooks of Alabama, Paul Gosar of Arizona and Andy Biggs of Arizona, all Republicans, set the events of Jan. 6 in motion.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Mr. Alexander said in a since-deleted video posted online, “so that who we couldn’t lobby, we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”

Alexander is expected to raise the issue of accountability for the Jan. 6 riot, but it appears unlikely that he will accept any accountability for himself -- unless that somehow comes via the committee's questioning:

In his opening statement to the committee, Mr. Alexander plans to give a flavor of his personal biography — his mother was Black and lived in public housing; his father, an Arab, disappeared from his life at a young age — and to suggest that he has become a target for those looking to blame the violence of Jan. 6 on someone.

“It is not uncommon in the aftermath of historic chaos and disruption to look for a bogeyman,” his opening statement says. “After all, someone must be held accountable, right?”

Mr. Alexander also intends to describe some of the bitter rivalries that divided the small group of planners that put together large pro-Trump events in Washington in November, December and January.

According to the prepared statement, he plans to say that he sought to “de-escalate events at the Capitol” on Jan. 6 while other organizers, including Amy Kremer and her daughter Kylie Kremer, who ran a group called Women for America First, “weren’t working with police” to quell the crowd.

In the past few weeks, Mr. Alexander claims to have spent more than 100 hours searching his archives for “relevant and responsive documentation to this committee’s requests,” according to his statement. He says that he has hired “attorneys and computer consultants to be as responsive as possible.”

Mr. Alexander’s cooperation comes as the committee is considering a criminal contempt of Congress referral against a third recalcitrant witness, Mark Meadows, who served as Mr. Trump’s White House chief of staff.

Mr. Meadows, who has turned over thousands of pages of documents to the committee, informed the panel Tuesday that he was no longer willing to sit for an interview with its investigators at a scheduled deposition Wednesday, reversing a deal he reached with the panel just last week to attend an interview. The leaders of the committee immediately threatened to charge Mr. Meadows, a former congressman from North Carolina, with contempt of Congress if he did not appear.


Anonymous said...

I wonder how Alexander will do when he has to go off his script.

legalschnauzer said...

Good question. Probably depends on how well committee members have done their homework and the kinds of questions they ask. Marcy Wheeler suggests that it should not be that hard to trip up Alexander, the deponent -- to force him into answers that don't square with his previous statements or the statements of others. W3 will see how that plays out.

legalschnauzer said...

Might also depend on how well Alexander has been prepared by his lawyers. I assume he has lawyers at this point, but it's not clear to me who they are or how long they have been on the case. Alexander implied just a few days ago that he had been doing his own legal work.

legalschnauzer said...

Here is more from Empty Wheel on today's deposition:

Headline: DOJ already debunked the lies Ali Alexander is about to tell Congress

For all the whinging about the pace of the various investigations into January 6, DOJ’s investigation has already gotten further into the Roger Stone side of the investigation than the Mueller investigation had by the time Stone testified to the House Intelligence Committee on September 26, 2017. At that point, almost fourteen months into the investigation into which of Trump’s rat-fuckers were coordinating with Russia, Mueller had obtained warrants targeting just Stone’s Twitter and Hotmail accounts.

As Stone acolyte Ali Alexander testifies before the January 6 Committee today, by comparison, just 11 months into the investigation, DOJ is already more than 100 days past the arrest of one of the men Stone and Alexander worked closely with on sowing insurrection, Owen Shroyer.

That makes the feat Ali Alexander is going to try to pull off when he testifies today to the January 6 Commission that much more fraught than what Stone tried four years ago. That’s because DOJ has already debunked some of the lies he plans to tell Congress.

In his prepared statement, which the NYT obtained, Alexander (who was originally subpoenaed because of the way he used covers to obtain multiple permits around the Capitol and incited violence in advance, neither of which he addresses in his statement) claims that he was attempting to de-escalate the riot after it started.

legalschnauzer said...

Empty Wheel (cont.)

There are a number of videos of my associates and me arriving at the Capitol on January 6 after the violence had begun but in the early stages of the lawbreaking. In those videos, our group can be seen working with police to try to end the violence and lawbreaking. We can be seen yelling and screaming at people to STOP trying to enter the Capitol and STOP violent lawbreaking in general.

I believe those videos have been provided to the committee. If they have not, I will be happy to share them.

While I was actively trying to de-escalate events at the Capitol and end the violence and lawlessness, it’s important to note that certain people were nowhere to be found, including Amy Kremer, Kylie Kremer, and Katrina Pierson; essentially, the Women for America First leadership of the Ellipse Rally that was originally titled the “March for Trump” in their National Park Service permit application. Press reports suggest they may have had their feet up drinking donor-funded champagne in a War Room in the Willard. I don’t know where they were. But they weren’t working with police trying to de-escalate the chaos like I was.

It is my belief there may not have been a problem had that same leadership at the Ellipse event not intentionally removed instructions from the program that were supposed to be included to provide clarity on exactly where to go following the Ellipse event. When I protested the removal of those instructions, I was barred from participating as an organizer at the Ellipse event that preceded the Capitol riot. Ultimately, I was a VIP guest at the Ellipse event.

As a result, civil authority collapsed before the Ellipse Rally was over, before I arrived, and before my event was scheduled to begin.

To clarify: My permitted event at Lot 8 never took place. The “One NationUnderGod”event that Stop the Steal was a part of did not start the chaos. The chaos was well underway before our event was scheduled to begin.

We never held our event. We weren’t allowed to. [bold my emphasis, underline Alexander’s]

legalschnauzer said...

Empty Wheel (cont.)

When Shroyer attempted to make this very same argument in a motion to dismiss in October, he at least included one (but not the most damning) video along with his argument. Here, having received a subpoena asking for such items, Alexander vaguely waves at videos he assumes the Committee has already received.

As the government’s response to Shroyer’s motion laid out, as Shroyer and Jones and Alexander led mobs to the Capitol even after “civil authority” had, according to Alexander, already “collapsed,” the InfoWars personalities were further riling up the mob. . . .

Then Jones, Shroyer, and Alexander gave a speech inside the restricted area of the Capitol (but not at one of the areas for which Alexander had a permit). . . .

Only after promising the mob they’d get to hear Trump did Jones’ handlers attempt to get sanction to go to the East side of the building by promising to de-escalate the riot that they had intentionally led more people to. As the government interprets the video that Shroyer himself provided, when Jones’ bodyguard offered to help de-escalate, the cop pointed northeast, which happens to be where Alexander had a permit and a stage already set up, at the “Lot 8” that Alexander claims they weren’t permitted to use.

That is, this cop specifically told Jones and his entourage, including Alexander, to go to the area where Alexander had a permit (albeit for dozens, not thousands, of people). Instead of going in that direction, they instead circled around close to the Capitol, stepping over barricades and an “Area Closed” sign. . . .

And then, after the entourage joined former Jones’ staffer Joe Biggs and the advance guard of the Oath Keepers at the top of the East steps, Jones and Shroyer — still with Alexander present — called for revolution. . . .

While, before Jones lured more mobs to the East side of the building, he did call people to stand down, once he got to the East steps, he further riled the crowd. As the government notes sardonically, calling for revolution “does not qualify as deescalation. . . . ”

Had Ali Alexander and Alex Jones taken the crowd they had led to the riot, like Pied Piper, to Demonstration Area 8 (per the permits that BuzzFeed liberated), which is roughly where the cops directed them to go, and which is where they had a stage and a sound system, they might have prevented, or at least mitigated, the breach of the East front. . . .

legalschnauzer said...

Empty Wheel (cont.)

Instead, Alexander’s entourage joined their militia allies on the East steps and incited revolution, just moments before some of those militia members forcibly opened a second breach into the Capitol.

Alexander’s real goal, in testifying to the committee (rather than pleading the Fifth, which would be the smart thing to do) may be to learn what the Committee knows, while pretending that his cooperation — which has taken two months, not two weeks — is voluntary, not legally mandated.

Alexander will be represented today by, among others, Paul Kamenar, the lawyer who — after Roger Stone learned that his former aide had provided damaging information to the FBI — appealed Andrew Miller’s subpoena to testify to Mueller’s grand jury to the DC Circuit, thereby stalling until after the Mueller Report was done. Immediately after the trial was done, Stone hired Kamenar, presumably to learn what Miller had said in subsequent FBI interviews.

That raises real questions about whether Alexander is repeating Stone’s colossally stupid approach to the Russian investigation for his own benefit, or for Stone’s.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Alexander is playing the race card in his opening statement.

legalschnauzer said...

Oh, very much. It's the "I'm being persecuted because i'm a black Trump supporter" card. Pretty sickening, as he points fingers at others.