Alabama-connected extremist Ali Alexander has been caught on video saying he would work with the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers militant groups leading up to Jan. 6, according to a report at CNN. Baron Coleman, Alexander's Montgomery-based attorney, hinted that Alexander was joking, but that might prove to be a weak explanation if the matter winds up before the House Select Committee on Jan. 6. From the article, by Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck:
An organizer of the "Stop the Steal" rallies that preceded the attack on the US Capitol a year ago said he would work with two extremist groups, who later had members charged in the attack, about providing security and housing for the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington.In previously unreported videos from the social media platform Periscope reviewed by CNN's KFile, Ali Alexander, a leader of the "Stop the Steal" rally and a central figure in the House select committee's investigation of January 6, said he would reach out to the right-wing Proud Boys and Oath Keepers on providing security for the event. Both groups later had members charged in the attack on the Capitol, including conspiracy. Last week, the Justice Department charged the Oath Keepers leader and 10 others with seditious conspiracy related to the attack.
This is not the first time Alexander has been connected to video-related controversy:
In other videos removed from Periscope -- it's unknown who removed the videos, when and why -- Alexander claimed to describe further details of his communications and coordination with several Congressional Republicans pushing to overturn the election result. The lawmakers have denied planning rallies or coordinating with Alexander in any way.An attorney for Alexander denied that his client worked with the Proud Boys but acknowledged that Alexander did try to help them with housing; the attorney also said the Oath Keepers did provide security for several events.While some of Alexander's Periscope videos have been previously reported by CNN, these additional videos provide new details of his claims about his contacts with extremist groups and lawmakers in the lead-up to the rally. They also show the heated rhetoric used by Alexander to describe his efforts, including speculating that a civil war could occur if the "Stop the Steal" movement's efforts were successful and that he'd rather see the White House be struck by lightning and "burn down" than have then President-elect Joe Biden enter it.
The videos indicate Alexander was not shy about touting his ties to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers in the days leading to an attack on the U.S. Capitol:
In one livestream video on December 23, 2020, entitled "JAN6," Alexander said to his followers that he planned to reach out to the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers about providing security for the January 6 rally."Don't worry, I'm gonna make sure so many people are so safe. It's gonna make your head spin. I'm gonna try to make sure that every 15 minutes -- so that you just know in your head, you don't have to know in a map -- that Metro stops are being patrolled," he said. "I'm gonna try to go that deep into it. I'm gonna talk to the Proud Boys. I'm gonna talk to the Oath Keepers and I'm gonna try to get patrols going, okay, of men that go for hours."In another video from December 29, 2020, Alexander said he spoke to the Proud Boys to make sure they had lodging covered for the event after a hotel frequented by the group said it would close in early January temporarily."I'll find you a room," Alexander said in a livestream addressing the camera. "My team will find you a room. I talked tonight to the Proud Boys to make sure that they were all covered."
This suggests Alexander was not just interested in peaceful protesters leading to Jan. 6; he was communicating with groups whose members have been charged with attack-related crimes:
Dozens of members of the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers have been charged in the attack on the US Capitol. Prosecutors have said members of both groups conspired ahead of time to disrupt the Electoral College proceeding. Both groups have been the subject of subpoenas by the January 6 committee.Baron Coleman, Alexander's attorney, told CNN his client "did not work with the Proud Boys," saying his "colorful remarks or exaggerations during playful livestreams contextualize his intentions." But he said his client did offer to help them find new housing and the Oath Keepers did provide security for several events.Alexander has not been charged or implicated in any unlawful act and he has denied working with anyone, including lawmakers, to attack the Capitol. In his December testimony, he claimed that the evidence he handed over to the committee exonerated himself and members of Congress."Anyone who suggests I had anything to do with the unlawful activities on January 6 is wrong. They're either mistaken or lying," Alexander said in his opening statement to the committee on December 9.
CNN suggests Baron Coleman stretched the truth in discussing his client's organizing activities:
Coleman, Alexander's attorney, also argued to CNN in an email that the clips provided seemed out of context, arguing Alexander was joking or exaggerating in clips. He said all of Alexander's rallies were peaceful."Using tiny clips from the thousands of hours of extemporaneous speaking that Ali produced during the 2020 election cycle seems out of context and without regard to the truth," Coleman said. "All of Ali's rallies, to this date, remain peaceful and without incident. All of the dozens of rallies he did, all peaceful, without incident. The other ones under his care post-Election Day; all peaceful and without incident."After at least two rallies in Washington, DC, however, clashes between protesters and counterprotesters turned violent. At a November 14 rally, violence erupted between the groups after dark and at least 20 people were arrested. And after the December 12 rally, at least four people were stabbed after an evening of face-offs with counterprotesters; at least 33 people were arrested, including six people for assaulting police officers.Alexander previously worked as a Republican political operative under the name of Ali Akbar on John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and a handful of political action committees before rebranding himself as an outspoken supporter of Trump. Alexander gained notoriety after he began posting videos of himself espousing pro-Trump and far-right views in 2019 on social media and for his work with MAGA conspiracy theorists Jacob Wohl and Laura Loomer.
Alexander has a history of using inflammatory words, and the new videos found by CNN reflect that:
The videos unearthed by CNN's KFile also show the heated rhetoric that Alexander used leading up to the January 6, 2021, rally.In one video from early January 2021, Alexander speculated that being successful on January 6 might lead to a civil war. In the same video, he said he'd rather see the White House "burn down," than have Biden enter it.Alexander's attorney said his comments about the White House were "in jest.""There's no circumstance that I think is legitimate that Joe Biden should enter the White House," he said on January 1, 2021. "I think the White House should burn down and I'm not saying that -- I'm not telling anyone to, but I'm just saying -- I literally believe that a bolt of lightning should hit the White House and light it on fire before it's handed over."Jared Holt, a resident fellow at The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab who studies US domestic extremist movements and had extensively researched January 6, said Alexander's rhetoric had the potential to influence bad behavior among the far-right."His role in the pro-Trump political space, connecting politicians, influencers, and activists, means that his words matter a great deal," Holt told CNN. "What Alexander says, whether in jest or in earnest, has the potential to ripple across far-right communities and offer permission for bad behavior."