The same people who organized Trump’s fateful rally on the Ellipse had something else in store on Jan. 6: a separate, previously unreported rally planned in front of the Supreme Court.
According to text messages and invoices obtained by TPM and provided to the House Jan. 6 Committee, the rally outside of the Supreme Court was set for the afternoon of Jan. 6 with some of the same speakers scheduled to appear.
The plan for a Supreme Court rally after the event at the Ellipse reveals a new and different perspective on the geography and timing of the attack on the Capitol.
We already knew that President Trump amassed supporters at the Ellipse, at the White House end of Pennsylvania Avenue, and dispatched them toward the Capitol end of Pennsylvania Avenue, declaring that he would walk with them before promptly returning to the White House. But whether the rally at the Ellipse was planned as a march on the Capitol, even though it was never issued a march permit, remains a hotly contested issue. Regardless, rioters penetrated the Capitol even as the President was still speaking at the Ellipse.
But now TPM’s reporting suggests that the Ellipse rally organizers intended to hold a separate 2 p.m. ET event on the steps of the Supreme Court, across the street from the Capitol, where Congress began certifying the Electoral College vote at noon ET. It suggests that organizers wanted to keep up the pressure on Congress through an event far closer to the Capitol.
And to get there, Big Lie supporters would have had to walk past the Capitol building, traversing a geographic bit of irony: Constitution Avenue.
In the end the organizers delayed, then aborted the Supreme Court rally as the assault on the Capitol unfolded and roads around the building were blocked.
But the picture this new information paints is of a pressure campaign directed at lawmakers by Trump-aligned activists that would continue well after election certification was underway. It included the two big D.C. rallies that have already been reported — Jan. 5 at Freedom Plaza and Jan. 6 at the Ellipse — as well as a third in that set: a rally at the Supreme Court later on the day of the insurrection.
‘Hundreds, if not thousands’
A group of veteran conservative activists were involved in both of the Jan. 6 rallies: Women for America First, run by Tea Party activist Amy Kremer and her daughter, Kylie Jane Kremer.
The Kremers, who hail from suburban Atlanta, arrived in D.C. on Jan. 6 fresh from a cross-country bus trip devoted to spreading the idea that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, all under the banner of the “March for Trump” group.
D.C. was the culmination of that long, national march — a series of rallies outside the main branches of government as Congress formalized the change in power: one in the morning outside the White House and, text messages, documents, and witness accounts show, another to be held outside of the Supreme Court.
The morning rally at the Ellipse was set to start at 9 a.m. ET. The Kremers gave raucous speeches excoriating the 2020 election, followed by the Trump sons. Other MAGA personalities like Diamond and Silk, Roger Stone, and Rudy Giuliani were expected to speak.
Over at the Supreme Court, security guards that had been subcontracted out from Women for America First had already arrived to help set up the rally.
One guard told TPM that upon arrival, he and other guards found a small stage and an array of sound equipment.
But as it turned out, the unsuspecting guards would be treated to a front-row seat view of the gathering insurrection.
“There were hundreds, if not thousands of them — and we just stood there, watching them marching,” one person hired to work as a security guard for the Supreme Court event told TPM.
But back at the Ellipse, organizers — at least officially — weren’t expecting a march.
According to a permit filed with the Department of the Interior, Women for America First organizers did not receive permission to stage a march from the Ellipse to the Capitol, or to anywhere else.
Instead, organizers created two events that day: one in the morning outside the White House, and one at the Supreme Court, set to begin at 2 p.m. ET.
There was no planning for a march of any kind.
But for VIPs expected to attend the Supreme Court rally, getting from the Ellipse to the Supreme Court was always part of the plan.
Trump took the stage at the Ellipse rally at noon, and soon blew through his allotted window, according to Steve Bannon, who said later that day on his podcast that Trump “went over” his time — “he ad libbed, he riffed.”
To rally organizers, the Supreme Court event was timed to follow Trump’s remarks.
“Once POTUS is done speaking here, the special guests will leave for scotus,” one Jan. 6 text message from a security person, sent at 12:51 p.m. ET, reads.
Two minutes later, video published by ProPublica shows, the first insurrectionists began to overwhelm the outer defenses of Capitol police.
At the time, rally organizers were still focused on getting VIPs to the Supreme Court. In this case, that meant the Kremers and Diamond and Silk.
Around 45 minutes later, at 1:37 p.m. ET, a security guard texted that he was on the move in two golf carts.
“One for Amy and Kylie. One for Diamond and Silk,” the message reads.
Neither the Kremers nor Diamond and Silk returned repeated requests for comment.
It’s not clear whether organizers exhorted attendees to go from the White House to the Supreme Court — a journey that would have forced people to walk by and around the Capitol building. An archived version of the March for Trump website does not mention a Supreme Court rally on Jan. 6.
But an invoice for a security subcontractor obtained by TPM and sent to the Jan. 6 Committee shows that organizers planned to provide security for an event at the Supreme Court: Eleven guards were hired to handle the rally on the Ellipse, two people for the Jan. 5 rally at Freedom Plaza, and four people to staff the rally at SCOTUS.
But with Trump having gone over his time and an insurrection beginning to unfold at the Capitol, the Supreme Court event began to disintegrate.
Security guards working the Supreme Court rally were first told to be ready for the event to begin at 2 p.m. ET, while speakers and special guests were set to begin at 3 p.m., ET texts say.
“We were there freezing our butts off until after the speeches — when they started the insurrection,” one security guard who worked the event told TPM, referring to the speeches at the Ellipse.
But the start time began to get pushed back, the guard said.
At 1:40 p.m. ET, the Kremers and Diamond and Silk still hadn’t reached the Supreme Court. Rather, texts say, they had made it to the Willard Hotel — the Trump team’s “command center” in its bid to block Biden from taking office.
“We should be good to collapse back to the hotel, regroup and prep for SCOTUS,” one text message concludes.
But the situation at the Capitol was only getting more violent.
At 2:12 p.m. ET, the first insurgents broke into the Capitol building itself. Members of Congress and senators were being evacuated, as news reports showed massive crowds overrunning the inauguration scaffolding.
The private security guards at the Supreme Court rally site didn’t know what to expect. One guard told TPM that he “thought it was gonna be a bunch of these preachers that were gonna talk about Trump being a prophet, and end-times stuff.”
Instead, he got a view of the Capitol being stormed.
“The Trumpers kept asking us, you guys aren’t Antifa are you?” the guard recalls. “And we’re like no, we’re security.”
The same person recalled speaking with Supreme Court police watching the attack, asking them why they weren’t assisting the overrun Capitol police.
The Jan. 6 Committee is reviewing this information as part of its investigation into the attack on the Capitol and Trump’s attempt to subvert the 2020 election.
A document released by DHS showed an official saying before the insurrection that authorities expected “large groups” at both the Capitol and the Supreme Court, while the Federal Protective Service also anticipated protests outside the building.
A Capitol Police spokesperson declined to comment. A Supreme Court spokesperson also declined to comment.
At 2:18 p.m. ET, a security official texted a Whatsapp group for the private security guards at the Supreme Court: “Effective ASAP. Shut down operations at SCOTUS.”
“Protestors storming US Capitol. You guys be careful leaving there,” the message reads.