House expects to hear from Roger Stone, Alex Jones and Michael Flynn about Jan. 6
AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:
With the new week comes new deadlines in the investigation into the January 6 attack on Congress and the vice president. Trump associate Roger Stone and right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones are due to submit documents to the House Select Committee tomorrow. Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn is scheduled to sit down for a deposition. Whether they'll comply isn't yet clear.
Marcy Wheeler is a journalist and national security expert who's closely followed both the work of the January 6 committee and the court cases brought so far. She joins us now. Welcome.
MARCY WHEELER: Thanks for having me.
RASCOE: We're getting most of the information about January 6 right now through these two different channels, the ongoing work of the committee and the House of Representatives and the cases brought by prosecutors in the courts. What has stood out to you so far about those different avenues?
WHEELER: Well, it's helpful to understand that they are collecting different kinds of information. The January 6 committee in the House is trying to explain an event. And so they're trying to understand the degree to which Trump's quote, unquote, "big lie" contributed to or was instrumental in bringing the mob to the Capitol, whereas the investigation at DOJ and FBI - they're building up from that crime scene, from the people who actually breached Congress. And so while, in particular, both Stone and Alex Jones are clearly of interest to that investigation, the FBI is getting to them via these 2,000 people who breached the Capitol. Alex Jones lured a bunch of people to the East Front of the Capitol on January 6, and they breached it. So he had a pretty critical role. But DOJ is slowly building that up from the people who actually did breach the Capitol.
RASCOE: What Congress is looking at is what then-President Trump knew and did and when. That's one of their main questions. Is that picture starting to take shape?
WHEELER: Well, we certainly know a lot more about his efforts to undermine the election. Even that committee - they are certainly leaking certain details of their investigation to the press, but there are still key details of what they've discovered that they're keeping a pretty good wrap on, which I think is important for the integrity of the investigation. I mean, if Roger Stone happens to show up and remarkably decides to tell the truth to Congress this time, they'll know some things about Roger Stone that he may not know; same with Alex Jones, same - you know, they've interviewed at least 250 people. And it's not even clear to people going in to be interviewed how many people have been interviewed.
RASCOE: And so the people who actually stormed the Capitol and attempted to stop the certification of the presidential election - what have they been saying about why they did what they did?
WHEELER: Well, there are a couple of different foci of that investigation, right? So the key one, which is important to - not only to understand but to tie back to Donald Trump. I said earlier that Alex Jones lured a bunch of people to the east steps of the Capitol. They breached the east doors of the Capitol about 25 minutes after the west doors were breached. That was really critical to overrunning the Capitol. It was a second front, effectively. And somehow, Joe Biggs, other Proud Boys, The Oath Keepers, Alex Jones, Ali Alexander - they all knew to show up on the east steps at the same time. And Alex Jones brought a bunch of unwitting people, quote, unquote, "MAGA tourists," who he lied to. He told them, if you come to the east side of the Capitol, Trump is going to show up and speak to us.
There's an Oath Keeper, Kelly Meggs. And the day of the election, he told his family. He's like, I'm going to go on a killing spree. I'm starting with Nancy Pelosi. He has said that is a joke. But after he breached the Capitol, he walked down the hallway to Nancy Pelosi's office. Prosecutors learned that from another one of the Oath Keepers who is cooperating with prosecutors now. But they need evidence to corroborate what happened.
So that's the kind of thing that investigators are doing. And that's one - you know, there's a lot of impatience, I think, with a number of trespassers who are being arrested and being sentenced to, say, probation or maybe a couple of weeks in home arrest. And the reason prosecutors are doing that is to get testimony about people who maybe know these Proud Boys. And that's why the investigation on the FBI side is so huge and full of so many people who seem to have done nothing but just wander into the Capitol.
RASCOE: You talked about how people were misled. And you have said on Twitter that the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6 were led there at least in part by misinformation. And that's something that's been talked about a lot since 2016. You know, I mentioned Roger Stone and Michael Flynn in the intro, and they were key figures in the story of Russia's effort to interfere in the 2016 election. Like, how much overlap is there between those two issues, Russia trying to affect U.S. voting in 2016 and Trump supporters trying to overturn the 2020 results?
WHEELER: I want to be very clear that I am not saying Russia had any role in 2020. This was, as far as we know, an entirely American affair. However, Stop The Steal, which is the organization that led to the riot in the Capitol - Stop The Steal was started by Roger Stone in 2016 when he was mimicking the efforts of Russia to undermine the election then. He had a plan in 2016, expecting that Hillary Clinton would win, to question the results. That plan was the same plan in 2016 as what we saw in 2020.
I mean, Roger Stone - some of the same militia members I've just described were providing security for Roger Stone at Florida events. This network is very small. These people, who were a key part of the Russian investigation arising out of 2016, all are the people who were there for Trump in 2020 and really implemented a plan that they - you know, that Roger Stone was ready to implement in 2016 if Hillary won to undermine the legitimacy of the election.
RASCOE: Marcy Wheeler is a journalist and foreign relations expert who writes at emptywheel.net. Thank you.
WHEELER: Thanks so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.