The Man Behind The Jan. 6 ‘Pence Card’ Memo Is Now Pushing ‘The Mother Of All Twitter Files’

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A key player in the push to overturn the 2020 presidential election now has set his sights on Elon Musk. 

Ivan Raiklin, a former Green Beret and associate of retired Gen. Michael Flynn, is currently fixated on a new scheme: to have Musk use his position as CEO of the social media company X, formerly known as Twitter, to publish private messages from the “Deep State.” In various appearances on right-wing broadcasts and events, Raiklin has suggested this would expose a plot against former President Trump and others.  

Raiklin has described his vision as a natural extension of the “Twitter Files” project Musk launched in late 2022 when, shortly after taking over the social media company, the mogul released some of its internal documents to a group of media figures including Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberger, and Matt Taibbi. The underwhelming exposé merely highlighted conversations among Twitter’s former members of management as they made admittedly fraught decisions about how to handle a New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s hacked laptop. Experts largely dismissed the project as highlighting routine content moderation. Musk and his team eventually descended into infighting

Inspired by Musk’s lackluster 2022 project, Raiklin has prepared a document he has dubbed the “Deep State Target List,” identifying over 350 people and institutions whose direct messages he wants Musk to publicize. 

One of the venues where Raiklin outlined his plan was a Vegas conference hosted by the far- right ​​Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association earlier this month. Videos posted by Raiklin show him detailing the scheme in a Q&A session where he wondered if the assembled law enforcement agents might be willing to go “to the maximum level” to punish the targets on his list for unspecified crimes. 

“What if, hypothetically, I communicated with Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi and convinced them to get Elon Musk to do what’s known as the ‘Mother of all Twitter Files’ where he releases the direct messages for the lifetime of the account of all the federal government actors previous and current that have weaponized against all of us citizens throughout the entire country?” Raiklin asked.

Raiklin has published his full “Target list” of figures whose direct messages and geolocation data he wants exposed on the encrypted app Telegram. The hundreds of names include federal officials ranging from former President Barack Obama to Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus. Raiklin’s targets also include members of the media and witnesses in various investigations into Trump. 

Raiklin is no stranger to intense conspiracy theories or explosive documents. In the leadup to the 2020 presidential race, he and other intelligence veterans associated with Flynn were vocal promoters of Trump’s baseless allegations that fraud played a part in his election defeat. Raiklin was also the author of a memo titled “Operation Pence Card” that detailed a plan to have the former vice president block the electoral certification of Trump’s loss. That document was shared by Trump in December 2020 as his legal team coalesced around a similar plan, which served as the basis for their efforts to have the election results officially overturned on January 6, 2021. 

The effort to obtain DMs is also not the first time Raiklin has allegedly sought personal material as part of a political pressure campaign. According to a Republican whistleblower, Raiklin was involved in a plot to obtain negative information about Republican members of Congress as Flynn and other allies  pushed them to back baseless audits of the 2020 race. 

Raiklin did not respond directly to a request for comment. However, on Telegram, he posted TPM’s message and encouraged followers to target this reporter for an investigation. 

“Can y’all do a deep dive on who this guy is before I consider responding? Would like to know all of his biases, relationships and IQ first,” Raiklin wrote. “DM me your findings of any elicit activity by him, the org he works for, neighbors, friends and family.”

Raiklin’s new “Deep State” list is color coded by category and begins with people identified as being involved in the “unmasking” of Flynn as participating in a phone call with a Russian diplomat. Revelations Flynn lied about that contact — including to former Vice President Mike Pence — led to his ouster as Trump’s first national security adviser. Raiklin’s list also includes figures involved in various investigations into Trump and supposed “censorship” at Twitter. 

TPM spoke to one person identified on the list who said they were concerned about targeted harassment. The list includes people who have received threats in conjunction with the various conspiracy theories promoted by Trump and his allies. It also questionably links some figures to events such as the pandemic. For these reasons — and the fact Raiklin has explicitly described it as a “target” document — we will not be identifying individual figures on the list, outside of the aforementioned public figures. 

Needless to say, it’s a far reaching list of people and institutions that Raiklin has baselessly suggested are involved in a murky series of vaguely defined high crimes. Raiklin is currently involved in the nationwide tour for Flynn’s documentary about himself. Screenings for the movie include a presentation of what Raiklin has dubbed a “Deep State Wall,” an actual, physical wall plastered with paper printouts connected with string. In a filmed tour of the display earlier this month, Raiklin boasted that “each one of these sections is easily one to two hours discussion” and suggested it exposes the supposed links in a “Deep State” plot to target Trump and his “non-establishment” allies, namely Flynn. 

“Elon Musk, if you’re listening in, please release the DMs of every single person on this wall. Every one,” Raiklin said. 

Raiklin’s tour also provided some insight into his focus on Pence. He suggested the former vice president had been “foisted” on Trump by establishment Republicans at a moment when Flynn was being considered for the post. 

The idea that Musk, one of the richest men in the world, would engage with this might seem far fetched. However, particularly since taking over Twitter in 2022, the entrepreneur has extensively promoted far-right rhetoric and conspiracy theories. And the “Twitter Files” project showed Musk’s willingness to release private correspondence obtained through his role at the company for political ends. The publication of those private messages and documents reportedly led to threats against the subjects of the stories.

Along with repeatedly invoking Musk, Raiklin has sent social media messages to Taibbi and Shellenberger, two of the reporters who worked on the “Twitter Files” project. For his part, Shellenberger told TPM via email that he had never heard of Raiklin. After we explained in further detail — including sharing links to posts where Raiklin had named him and cited his work specifically — Shellenberger suggested he did not even understand how he might have inspired the “Deep State” list.

“How does this involve me, exactly?” he asked. 

Taibbi did not respond to a request for comment. 

TPM also sent a message to Twitter’s press email, which, at one point during Musk’s tenure, was answering all requests with poop emojis. We received a response that said, “Busy now, please check back later.”

Musk did not respond to a request for comment sent to him directly on Wednesday. He spent the afternoon sharing Shellenberger’s work on the site he has named “X.” And, while he hasn’t engaged with Raiklin’s endeavor, Musk made clear he is eager to go after some of  the media institutions mentioned in Raiklin’s “Deep State” list. 

“This graph illustrates the woke mind virus taking over legacy media,” Musk declared on Wednesday alongside a random chart that purported to show an increase in coverage of “racism” at four major newspapers. “Infection rate almost 100%. But now it will die.”

Raiklin’s dream of getting Musk, Shellenberger, and Taibbi to take on his target list may just be a feverish fantasy, but it is a sign of something far more real and consequential. The endeavor is a stark example of how some of the people who were involved in the efforts to overturn the last election are continuing to promote increasingly militant conspiracy theories to their audiences ahead of the next one. 

In February, Raiklin went on the “Infowars” broadcast hosted by Alex Jones, who was heavily involved in the protests against Trump’s 2020 loss that turned violent on January 6. The pair spun a new narrative with echoes of QAnon that suggested Raiklin’s “Twitter files” plan was the only way to stop Trump from being killed. 

“The next move is assassination,” Jones declared in between dramatic operatic music and shots of Raiklin’s list. 

“They’re going to stop him at all costs,” Raiklin said of Trump, adding, “The end of that continuum is a political assassination.”

Raiklin went on to suggest Trump’s enemies might “shut the internet down” and that Musk could use the “counter strategy” of releasing their private correspondence to “stop them in their tracks.” 

“This will be the Twitter files nuclear just bombshell … in exposing these scum,” Raiklin said. “They’re not going to survive that level of scrutiny.”

Along with showing how active the January 6 conspiracy theorists remain, Raiklin’s target list illustrates how Musk has emerged as an inspiration and focal point in these circles. At the close of their broadcast, Jones asked Raiklin for his “analysis” of the billionaire. Raiklin pointed to things Musk has posted on X before making a confident declaration. 

“He’s like us,” Raiklin said of Musk. “I think he’s cut from the same cloth.” 

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