Friday, December 24, 2021

The U.S. Army might be known for its warriors, but its scientists show they can kick butt in the war against Omicron, Delta, and other coronavirus variants


The past two years probably have been the most distressing period many modern-day Americans have experienced. To top off the barrage of bad news, we recently learned that our country had passed the horrifying figure of 800,000 deaths from COVID-19 -- with an Omicron-driven surge expected in the early days of 2022.

With that as a backdrop, we were determined to provide some positive -- even hopeful -- news heading into Christmas. It seems we have found it, thanks to a military-oriented news site called Defense One. Writes Tara Copp, under the headline "US Army Creates Single Vaccine Against All COVID & SARS Variants, Researchers Say"

Even the subheading--"Within weeks, Walter Reed researchers expect to announce that human trials show success against Omicron—and even future strains" -- sounds encouraging. Reports Copp:

Within weeks, scientists at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research expect to announce that they have developed a vaccine that is effective against COVID-19 and all its variants, even Omicron, as well as previous SARS-origin viruses that have killed millions of people worldwide. 

The achievement is the result of almost two years of work on the virus. The Army lab received its first DNA sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020. Very early on, Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch decided to focus on making a vaccine that would work against not just the existing strain but all of its potential variants as well.

Walter Reed’s Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle COVID-19 vaccine, or SpFN, completed animal trials earlier this year with positive results. Phase 1 of human trials, wrapped up this month, again with positive results that are undergoing final review, Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of Walter Reed’s infectious diseases branch, said in an exclusive interview with Defense One on Tuesday. The new vaccine will still need to undergo phase 2 and phase 3 trials.

"We're testing our vaccine against all the different variants, including Omicron," Modjarrad said.

Are there possible hurdles to overcome? Yes. Still, is the news hopeful -- even awe-inspiring? We think so:

On Wednesday, Walter Reed officials said in a statement that its vaccine “was not tested on the Omicron variant,“ but later clarified in an email to Defense One that while the recently discovered variant was not part of the animal studies, it is being tested in the lab against clinical human trial samples. These "neutralization assays" test whether antibodies can inhibit the growth of a virus. 

"We want to wait for those clinical data to be able to kind of make the full public announcements, but so far everything has been moving along exactly as we had hoped,” Modjarrad said. 

Unlike existing vaccines, Walter Reed’s SpFN uses a soccer ball-shaped protein with 24 faces for its vaccine, which allows scientists to attach the spikes of multiple coronavirus strains on different faces of the protein.

“It's very exciting to get to this point for our entire team and I think for the entire Army as well,” Modjarrad said. 

Army scientists already have overcome a number of challenges to get to this point:

The vaccine’s human trials took longer than expected, he said, because the lab needed to test the vaccine on subjects who had neither been vaccinated nor previously infected with COVID.

Increasing vaccination rates and the rapid spread of the Delta and Omicron variants made that difficult.  

“With Omicron, there's no way really to escape this virus. You're not going to be able to avoid it. So I think pretty soon either the whole world will be vaccinated or have been infected,” Modjarrad said.

The next step is seeing how the new pan-coronavirus vaccine interacts with people who were previously vaccinated or previously sick. Walter Reed is working with a yet-to-be-named industry partner for that wider rollout. 

“We need to evaluate it in the real-world setting and try to understand how does the vaccine perform in much larger numbers of individuals who have already been vaccinated with something else initially…or already been sick,” Modjarrad said.

He said nearly all of Walter Reed’s 2,500 staff have had some role in the vaccine’s nearly-two-year development.

“We decided to take a look at the long game rather than just only focusing on the original emergence of SARS, and instead understand that viruses mutate, there will be variants that emerge, future viruses that may emerge in terms of new species. Our platform and approach will equip people to be prepared for that.”

To our readers, we wish a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Another longtime partner bolts Balch & Bingham as reports swirl about a possible federal investigation involving the beleaguered Birmingham law firm

Jennifer Powell Decker

Another partner has bolted Birmingham's Balch & Bingham law firm as reports mount that the firm may be the target of a federal investigation. According to a post at, the probe could involve possible obstruction of justice and actions connected to Montgomery-based Matrix LLC. Writes Publisher K.B. Forbes, under the headline "Obstruction Destruction! Another Balch Legacy Partner Exits":

Jennifer Powell Decker, a seasoned Balch & Bingham partner and one of the top-ranking women at the embattled firm, has dumped Balch after 15 dedicated years.

The announcement follows the abrupt and suprising departure of long-time Balch legacy partner Rob Fowler who appears to have taken a step downward, becoming inside counsel for a coal company currently not operating due to the lack of permits.

Powell Decker is now “of counsel” at Baker Donelson in Birmingham according to news reports.

Last week, we learned from high-level sources that an alleged federal probe is looking at possible obstruction of justice.

Allegedly at least three smear artists paid through third-party entities and allegedly tied to the obscure political consulting firm Matrix have been interviewed by federal agents.

In the world of "Big Law," a move like Powell Decker's -- from partner to "of counsel" -- is a clear step down, sources tell Legal Schnauzer. That suggests she, and perhaps Fowler, just wanted to get away from the stench that now surrounds Balch.

As for a federal probe, what might it revolve around? The answer appears to be a smelly case that seems to get more pungent by the day. Writes Forbes:

Beyond the money trail and the Matrix Meltdown, sources claim that investigators are looking at alleged obstruction in the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal.

The question that observers are asking now: Is Balch and its sister-wife Alabama Power under federal investigation?

Mark A. Crosswhite, CEO of Alabama Power and a former Balch partner, was photographed inappropriately chugging cocktails with U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town allegedly at the height of the North Birmingham Bribery Trial.

Allegedly Alabama Power had a secret deal where they were “unmentionable” during the criminal trial.

Alabama Power was the only entity that donated to the money laundering entity known as the Alliance for Jobs and the Economy (AJE) that did NOT testify during the trial.

Was the utility and their agents “unindicted masterminds?” Alabama Power was briefed regularly about the North Birmingham shenanigans.

Last year, Town resigned in disgrace as U.S. Attorney. Is Crosswhite’s coming retirement or resignation next?

Is all of this tarnishing Balch's well-polished image? Well, it certainly seems to have the revolving exit doors spinning:

The apparent internal strife at Balch appears to have shattered the firm’s public relations fluff and may have doomed (Crosswhite), the most powerful man in Alabama.

Holy Mistletoe!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Ali Alexander, in new court filing designed to keep his Verizon phone records under wraps, threw GOP Congressmen under the bus for Jan. 6 committee

Ali Alexander (front, left) on Jan. 6

In conversations with members of the House January 6 Committee, Alabama-connected extremist Ali Alexander is pointing fingers at  three GOP U.S. Congressmen, according to a report over the weekend at Salon. The revelations are part of Alexander's efforts to keep his cell-phone records under wraps. Writes reporter Brett Bachman:

One of the principal organizers of the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally that preceded a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol disclosed names of several Republican lawmakers who he was in communication with prior to the attempted insurrection, according to a new report.

Lawyers for Ali Alexander, who played a key role in founding the "Stop the Steal" movement which sought to use false claims of election fraud to overturn the 2020 election results, confirmed in a new court filing that he spoke with GOP Reps. Paul Gosar, Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs in the days leading up to Jan. 6.

Alexander's accounting of his communications is the most detailed look yet at the Republican lawmakers' role in encouraging and planning for the events of Jan. 6, and gives the committee new ammunition in seeking information from Republican colleagues who embraced fringe right-wing figures in their unsuccessful attempt to keep then-President Donald Trump in power. The details were included in a lawsuit Alexander filed Friday, in an attempt to stop the Jan. 6 committee from pulling his phone records from cellular service provider Verizon.

Alexander has spoken online about his associations with Gosar, Brooks, and Biggs regarding Jan. 6. But this time, he apparently did it under oath, before a Congressional committee. Writes Bachman:

During his appearance before the committee, Alexander apparently "testified that he had phone conversations with Rep. Brooks' staff about a 'Dear Colleague' letter and how his activists could be helpful," according to POLITICO. He also reported speaking with Gosar over the phone several times, as well as a few in person meetings with Biggs. 

At one point, Alexander even briefly posted a video online — which has since been deleted — claiming the original idea to stop Congress' Jan. 6 certification session was his alone, and that he worked with Gosar, Biggs and Brooks to try and make it happen.

"We four schemed up to put maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting," Alexander says.

Both Biggs and Brooks denied to POLITICO that they ever met with Alexander, while Gosar has openly appeared at events with him but refused to comment on their relationship.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Did Balch & Bingham sell imprisoned partner Joel Gilbert down the river, with signs of evidence tampering lingering from North Birmingham scandal?

Did Birmingham's Balch & Bingham law firm sell out one of its own, former partner Joel Gilbert, in the North Birmingham Superfund case? Is that one reason a number of veteran attorneys have bolted the firm in recent years? Those questions are at the heart of a banbalch,com post, which raises a number of sobering issues -- given that Gilbert was convicted in a federal trial, and now is part of the grass-cutting team at a federal prison in Montgomery. Writes Publisher K.B. Forbes under the headline "Did Balch Intentionally Screw Gilbert? Former Top Partner Now Mowing the Lawn in Prison":

Ex-Balch & Bingham partner Joel I. Gilbert has been assigned gardening responsibilities at the Federal Prison Camp located at the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery.

Now that legacy Balch partner Rob Fowler dumped the once-prestigious firm for a job at a coal facility that currently is not operating, insiders are curious what internal strife is happening at Balch to cause Fowler to run to the emergency exit.

Sources tell us that Gilbert may have been intentionally screwed by his own law firm, just like ex-Drummond executive David Roberson appeared to be screwed as the “fall guy” by Drummond.

The “lone wolves” theory peddled by disgraced ex-U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town appears to have been a line of crap.

And federal investigators agree.

Does that mean Gilbert and Roberson were left holding a post-trial mess while other issues -- and those connected to them -- were neatly swept out of view? It sure looks that way, writes Forbes: 

The Ketona Lakes secret, the Miller Steam plant ash ponds, and the alleged involvement of up to 20 other Balch lawyers may have been the hidden pillars of the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal.

Gilbert, the father of two beautiful young children, was sentenced to 5 years in federal prison, and Balch appears to have blamed him for the scandal after his conviction three years ago. Stan Blanton, managing partner at Balch, had the audacity to try to pivot the bribery scheme away from the firm, saying “our firm was not a party to the case.”

But is that the truth? Wasn’t the criminal scheme born at the offices of Balch & Bingham? Did other Balch attorneys and representatives lie or perjure themselves? Were documents manipulated or evidence destroyed? What did the executive committee at Balch know?

Let's consider just one mind-blowing possibility: That up to 20 other Balch attorneys were involved in the scandal, but Gilbert is the only one doing time. That leads Forbes to consider other troubling issues that linger like a dark cloud over the North Birmingham case:

One of the items we discovered that has bothered us is the possibility of evidence tampering. We wrote at the height of the criminal trial in 2018:

On December 1, 2014, indicted Balch & Bingham partner Joel Gilbert dispatched a letter of intimidation to GASP, the health and environmental public charity that they tried to undercut by allegedly buying a politician for $360,000.

It appears that Gilbert may have been on vacation the week of Thanksgiving, because his last billing is for Friday, November 21, 2014. The letter is dated December 1, 2014, a Monday, but nothing shows up in the December billings.

Evidence tampering or we just can’t find it?

Then again, maybe prosecutors need to look at an example of the alleged alteration of evidence in the Newsome Conspiracy Case—Balch & Bingham’s other quagmire.

Nothing should surprise them. Nothing.

If records suggest Gilbert did not author the letter, who did? Where could that trail lead?

Now outsiders believe someone else could have paid for the letter of intimidation. Could it have been Alabama Power or a related entity?

And what about those alleged indemnity deals to cover-up and protect alleged unsavory if not criminal misconduct?

Michael S. Regan of the EPA needs to send his investigators to Montgomery and interview Gilbert. Then they need to knock on the door of embattled Alabama Power CEO Mark A. Crosswhite and find out more about the Miller Steam Plant and the alleged toxic ash ponds. Finally, the investigators need to visit with the “confused’ General Counsel of Drummond Company, Blake Andrews.

In return, Gilbert should get time shaved off for his cooperation.

Inherent goodness needs to prevail. For the sake of the residents of North Birmingham and for the sake of Gilbert’s young children.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Rosanne Cash suggests via Twitter that Ali Alexander might face legal repercussions for using Johnny Cash's image to promote "fascist bullshit" in video re: Jan. 6

Ali Alexander, the Alabama-connected extremist who organized the Stop the Steal rally that turned into a riot at the U.S. Capitol, was served with lawsuit papers after an eight-hour deposition last Thursday before the U.S. House Committee investigating Jan. 6. (See video at the end of this post.)

The lawsuit might not be Alexander's only looming legal headache. 

Rosanne Cash, the daughter of iconic singer Johnny Cash and a major musical figure in her own right, has indicated the family's estate is not pleased with Alexander's use of her father's image in a video related to his plans to testify before the Jan. 6 committee. Wrote Roseanne Cash on Twitter

I've alerted the estate attorneys that an insurrectionist is illegally using my dad's image to promote his fascist bullshit. In case you were wondering.

Here's how the Daily Beast described the scene as Alexander left his deposition last Thursday: 

By the end of Alexander’s eight-hour closed-door deposition, he left with more legal troubles on his hands than when he arrived—as two eager process servers affiliated with the same legal matter stood ready to hand-deliver him documents after he emerged from the deposition.

“Mr. Alexander, I have a summons for you. I have a summons for you,” one of the process servers said. “Please know this is a valid service of process.”

The far-right activist then made a beeline for his waiting ride while being tailed by the process server. “I have a summons for you. Please take it,” the server added, “or I’m just going to have to leave it on the hood of your car.”

Alexander replied to the prospects of the legal paperwork being left on the front hood of the vehicle, “That’s an Uber!”

What is the nature of the lawsuit? The Daily Beast provides insight:

Edward Caspar, senior counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, confirmed to The Daily Beast on Friday morning that Alexander was served with legal documents pertaining to Smith v. Trump, a lengthy civil lawsuit naming the far-right activist. According to court documents, four previous attempts to have Alexander served were unsuccessful.

Joining Alexander as defendants in the lawsuit are Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump for President, Stop the Steal LLC (c/o Montgomery attorney Baron Coleman), Roger J. Stone Jr., Proud Boys International LLC, Oath Keepers, and more.


Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, bounced from office once by scandal, already has campaign-finance problems in his bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate

Eric  Greitens

Missouri's Eric Greitens, who went from Navy SEAL to one of the nation's most corrupt governors, appears already to have stepped in doo-doo in his bid to make a political comeback by replacing retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Greitens' earlier problems started with a sex scandal but ultimately led to questions about "dark money." Now, he appears to have more campaign-finance problems, according to a report from Associated Press and KY3 in Springfield:

A federal elections watchdog group on Wednesday filed another complaint against former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, alleging that money from his old gubernatorial campaign was illegally spent on kickstarting his campaign to run for retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt’s seat.

The Campaign Legal Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, filed its complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission against Greitens, who resigned in 2018 amid a sex scandal and other claims of campaign finance misconduct. He’s running in a crowded Republican primary for Blunt’s seat.

At issue is $100,000 that the Campaign Legal Center alleges Greitens’ state gubernatorial committee illegally spent to kickstart his Senate campaign. State campaign funds cannot be used for federal campaigns.

In October, the nonprofit filed a complaint over the spending with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). Greitens’ Senate campaign has said that “no gubernatorial campaign funds were used for the Senate campaign” in response to the FEC complaint.

 Will that satisfy the FEC, considering Greitens' not-so-distant past? Maybe not:

The latest complaint claims that Greitens’ state committee didn’t properly report the spending to the Missouri Ethics Commission as an in-kind contribution to the federal committee.

“It violated both state and federal law for Greitens to spend $100,000 in gubernatorial campaign funds on his U.S. Senate race without proper disclosure,” Brendan Fischer, the nonprofit’s director of federal reform, said in a statement. “Missouri voters have a right to know where the money being spent to influence their votes is coming from.”

Greitens’ Senate campaign and his state committee treasurer didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment about the complaint.

Is this a case of history repeating itself? It certainly has that smell about it:

If the latest claims against Greitens are true, his state committee is at risk of violating a 2020 consent order with the Missouri Ethics Commission that stemmed from a campaign finance violation during his 2016 gubernatorial run.

In February 2020, the ethics commission found “probable cause” that Greitens’ state committee failed to report a donor list from his charity for his 2016 political campaign and issued a $178,000 fine, though it required payment of just $38,000.

The consent order said Greitens’ campaign would owe the rest if it committed any more violations between then and February 2022.

Monday, December 13, 2021

House committee shines light on Mark Meadows' role in Jan. 6 planning, raising questions about Oval Office coordination with Stop the Steal rally organizers

Mark Meadows, former Trump chief of staff

How close did organizers for the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally get to the Trump Oval Office? A report late last week from Salon suggests the answer is "pretty darned close." Was one of those organizers Alabama-connected right-wing extremist Ali Alexander? Given that Alexander has described himself as chief organizer of the rally, which turned into a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol, the answer likely is "yes." How does Salon's reporting, along with that from a bombshell Rolling Stone piece in October, square with Alexander's testimony last Thursday before the U.S. House Select Committee on Jan. 6? Given that Alexander's testimony was conducted behind closed doors, we probably won't know the answer to that for a while. 

But Salon's report, dated Dec. 8, certainly raises plenty of questions about possible coordination between rally organizers and the Trump administration. Writes reporter Brett Bachman:

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is moving forward with contempt charges against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, saying in a letter that it has "no choice" after he decided to stop cooperating with the Democratic-led probe. 

According to the letter, which contains a number of new details about Meadows' previous cooperation with the committee, the Trump Administration official has already turned over thousands of documents, including numerous emails and text messages. But he's also withheld thousands more — and refused to sit for a deposition scheduled for Wednesday — using claims of executive privilege that the committee says are spurious at best.

"The Select Committee is left with no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and recommend that the body in which Mr. Meadows once served refer him for criminal prosecution," committee Chair Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., wrote in the letter Tuesday. "There is no legitimate legal basis for Mr. Meadows to refuse to participate in a deposition."

Meadows already has provided the committee with some alarming information:

Included in the documents Meadows handed over to the select committee is a powerpoint titled "Election Fraud, Foreign Interference & Options for 6 JAN" that was intended for distribution "on the hill," according to the letter. Thompson also revealed the contents of a Nov. 6, 2020 email to an unnamed Congressperson in which Meadows replies "I love it" in response to a "highly controversial" plan that would have appointed alternative electors in several states that Trump had lost. 

Meadows was also allegedly in contact with one of the organizers of the Jan. 6 "Stop the Steal" rally which preceded the riot.

That last items suggests Meadows might have been working in alignment with Stop the Steal organizers -- and that could open a line of inquiry about Alexander and his allies. It also could help explain why Alexander's deposition took eight hours -- and maybe why the deponent appeared more grim-faced coming out of the proceeding than he did going in. Here's more from Salon about the documents Meadows provided, which appear to be a mixed bag:

These were among the more than 6,000 files Meadows gave the committee, though he also included a log of more than 1,000 text messages and hundreds of emails that were withheld "based on claims of executive, attorney-client, or other privilege."

Thompson's letter also raised another point about Meadows' data collection — since so many of the documents were from personal accounts, Thompson questioned whether Meadows had transferred the proper documents to the National Archives "in compliance with the Presidential Records Act."

For his part, Meadows looks ready to fight the contempt charges in court.

"We now have every indication from the information supplied to us last Friday -- upon which Mr. Meadows could expect to be questioned -- that the Select Committee has no intention of respecting boundaries concerning Executive Privilege," Meadows' attorney George J. Terwilliger III said in a letter to the committee last week.

Thompson's letter was in part a response to these assertions, and in particular addressed previous comments by Terwilliger in which he accused Thompson of believing "that a witness's assertion of 5th Amendment rights is 'tantamount to an admission of guilt. . . .'"

It's unclear whether Meadows will seek to use his 5th Amendment rights — though at least two other witnesses under scrutiny from the committee have said they will: longtime GOP operative Roger Stone and ed-DOJ official Jeffrey Clark. 

Friday, December 10, 2021

Dueling lawsuits over Montgomery-based Matrix LLC spark a federal investigation that could lead down a money trail populated by powerful Alabama entities

Dueling lawsuits across two states (Alabama and Florida) over one company -- Montgomery-based Matrix LLC -- have led to a federal investigation focusing on possible obstruction of justice and civil-rights violations, according to a report at Writes Publisher K.B. Forbes, under the headline "The Matrix Meltdown, the Feds, and the Money Trail": 

Balch & Bingham and their sister-wife Alabama Power have relied on the obscure services of Matrix, the political consulting firm that dropped the mailing during the North Birmingham Bribery Scandal that reprehensibly discouraged African-Americans from having their toxic and contaminated property tested by the EPA.

Matrix has a legendary (if not mythical) reputation of being a “dirty tricks” outfit that allegedly engages in AstroTurf efforts and smear campaigns.

Joe Perkins, the head of Matrix, is in a two-state legal battle with former protégé Jeff Pitts.

The Matrix Meltdown has provoked a probe from federal investigators, sources claim, and an avalanche of documents and invoices are being looked at for alleged “obstruction of justice” and potential civil rights violations.

Where could this be headed? It's too soon to say for sure, but some alarming legal terms clearly are being tossed around. Writes Forbes:

Our sources at the U.S. Department of Justice cannot confirm nor deny the investigation, but the laundering of money to harass or suppress minorities is a top priority for the DOJ.

Sources also allege that three buffoons involved in the phony two-minute protest that targeted the wrong family at the wrong address in defense of Balch have been interviewed by the FBI.

Balch defenders attempted to smear and intimidate CDLU’s Executive Director K.B. Forbes, a Hispanic, but instead terrorized the wrong family at a home adjacent to his home in July of 2020.

The petrified family has since moved.

Not only did the buffoons terrorize the wrong family, they couldn’t spell Forbes’ last name correctly.

The buffoons spelled his last name Forgis, Forger, or Forge on signs and on social media posts.

Sources claim that the three buffoons were interviewed by federal agents in recent weeks asking who paid whom for what.

The money trail appears to be on fire.

Forbes' nonprofit, Consejo De Latinos Unidos (CDLU), has invested significant legwork in an effort to determine the nature of the money trail, and where it leads:

Last year, we, the CDLU, provided the FBI with a list of those allegedly involved in the buffoons’ embarrassing debacle.

We uncovered a possible chain of command going all the way up to the doorsteps of Alabama Power and Balch & Bingham.

As a precaution and safety measure, Forbes’ family was immediately moved out of the area that summer of 2020, a decision FBI agents applauded at the time.

Balch and the CEO of Alabama Power, Mark A. Crosswhite, may have sincerely enjoyed the alleged unsavory antics and smear tactics of Matrix.

Now the chickens have come to roost on their soiled laps.

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.