The organizers of the rally on the Ellipse where Donald Trump exhorted his supporters to take their “fight” to block the election result to the Capitol building secretly worked with the White House to plan a march towards Capitol Hill, a federal inspector general said on Monday.
Women for America First, the pro-Trump non-profit which put on the rally, worked to stage a second rally outside of the Supreme Court on the afternoon of Jan. 6. Attendees of the rally on the Ellipse were intended to march from outside the White House to the Supreme Court, the report said.
TPM first revealed that organizers had planned for a rally outside of the Supreme Court in a 2021 news story. The House January 6 Committee subsequently confirmed that a rally was meant to take place.
But the new report, released by the Inspector General for the Department of the Interior, casts the planned rally as the final destination of a secretly organized march aimed at applying pressure to Congress at a critical moment: the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. The report mostly examines the process and decision to issue a permit to WFAF for the rally on the Ellipse, and the response of Interior Department law enforcement to the insurrection that day.
The findings focus on what the inspector general characterized as a decision by WFAF to “intentionally fail to disclose information to the NPS during the permitting process regarding a march to the U.S. Capitol,” the report said, referencing the National Park Service.
The report found that rally organizers lied to federal officials, telling them that there would be no march while secretly working with Trump White House officials to plan for one.
One text exchange between Women for America First official Kylie Kramer and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, first published in part by the Jan. 6 Committee but released with more context on Monday, shows how it worked.
Lindell, identified by the inspector general as a “potential speaker” at the event, but by the Jan. 6 Committee as the pillow mastermind, asked when he would speak.
Kremer replied that Lindell should “stay away from the crazies” and speak on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
She added that, “between us” there would be a “second stage at the Supreme Court” to which Trump would direct a march. She added that only herself and a White House liaison knew the “full story of what is actually happening.”
For the inspector general and the National Parks Service, which issued a permit to Women for America First on the condition that it be a rally and not a march, the exchange is shocking.
“So, um, basically she lied to all of us,” the park ranger responsible for handling the permit told investigators, saying that it “bl[ew her] mind.” The person also added that Kremer would not have been “in trouble” for requesting a march, but rather would have had to deal with additional questions from parks staff seeking to ensure that the event was conducted safely.
Federal officials went out of their way to ask whether WFAF was planning on a march to the Supreme Court — and thereby, because of D.C.’s layout, the Capitol — multiple times before Jan. 6, the report says. A copy of the permit which was eventually issued specifies that a march was not approved.
That’s partly because, the report says, WFAF’s two other D.C. Stop the Steal events in autumn 2020 involved marches to the Supreme Court which National Parks Service officials approved. Those marches saw sporadic street clashes with dozens of arrests.
The Jan. 6 event put National Parks Service staff and police in direct danger. The report recounts a harrowing incident on the morning of Jan. 6 near the Washington Monument, which was surrounded with fencing.
Parks Police officers arrested a man who removed the fencing, purportedly declaring that the area was open to all. After the arrest, the report says, the crowd began to follow the officers, forcing them to “retreat” into a Washington Monument “security facility.” There, a group of around 20 people purportedly waited for 25 minutes as the crowd banged on the windows, until more officers arrived.