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.