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Jan. 17, 2021, 4:25 p.m. EST

Members of Trump’s reelection campaign were behind rally that ignited Capitol riot, records show

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By Associated Press

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The insurrection at the Capitol prompted Mick Mulvaney to quit his position as Trump’s special envoy to Northern Ireland. He told CNBC a day after the assault that remaining in the post would prompt people to say “‘Oh yeah, you work for the guy who tried to overtake the government.’”

The leaders of Women for America First aren’t new to politics.

Amy Kremer, listed as the group’s president on records filed with Virginia’s state corporation commission, is “one of the founding mothers of the modern day tea party movement,” according to her website. Her daughter, Kylie Jane Kremer, is the organization’s treasurer, according to the records.

The IRS granted Women for America First tax-exempt status as a social welfare organization a year ago, with the exemption retroactive to February 2019. The AP requested that the group provide any tax records it may have filed since then, but received no response.

In a statement issued the same day rioters attacked the Capitol, Amy Kremer denounced the assault and said it was instigated after the rally by a “handful of bad actors,” while seeming to blame Democrats and news organizations for the riot.

“Unfortunately, for months the left and the mainstream media told the American people that violence was an acceptable political tool,” she said. “They were wrong. It is not.”

The AP reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files and other public records for more than 120 people either facing criminal charges related to the Jan. 6 unrest or who, going maskless during the pandemic, were later identified through photographs and videos taken during the melee.

The review found the crowd was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, off-duty police, members of the military and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals.

Videos posted on social media in the days following the Capitol attack shows that thousands of people stormed the Capitol. A Capitol Police officer died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as rioters descended on the building and many other officers were injured. A woman from California was shot to death by Capitol Police and three other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos.

Trump’s incendiary remarks at the Jan. 6 rally culminated a two-day series of events in Washington, organized by a coalition of the president’s supporters who echoed his baseless accusations that the election had been stolen from him. A website, MarchtoSaveAmerica.com, sprung up to promote the pro-Trump events and alerted followers, “At 1 PM, we protest at US Capitol.” The website has been deactivated.

Another website, TrumpMarch.com shows a fist-raised Trump pictured on the front of a red, white and blue tour bus emblazoned with the words, “Powered by Women for America First.” The logo for the bedding company “My Pillow” is also prominent. Mike Lindell, the CEO of My Pillow, is an ardent Trump supporter who’s falsely claimed Trump didn’t lose the election to Biden and will serve another four-year term as president.

“To demand transparency & protect election integrity,” the web page reads. Details of the “DC PROTEST” will be coming soon, it adds, and also lists a series of bus stops between Dec. 27 and Jan. 6 where Trump backers can “Join the caravan or show your support.”

Kimberly Fletcher, the Moms for America president, said she wasn’t aware the Trump campaign had a role in the rally at the Ellipse until around New Year’s Day. While she didn’t work directly with the campaign, Fletcher did notice a shift in who was involved in the rally and who would be speaking.

“When I got there and I saw the size of the stage and everything, I’m like, ‘Wow, we couldn’t possibly have afforded that,’” she said. “It was a big stage. It was a very professional stage. I don’t know who was in the background or who put it together or anything.”

In addition to the large stage, the rally on the Ellipse featured a sophisticated sound system and at least three Jumbotron-style screens projecting the president’s image to the crowd. Videos posted online show Trump and his family in a nearby private tent watching the rally on several monitors as music blared in the background.

Moms for America held a more modest “Save the Republic” rally on Jan. 5 near the U.S. Capitol, an event that drew about 500 people and cost between $13,000 to $14,000, according to Fletcher.

Justin Caporale is listed on the Women for America First paperwork as the event’s project manager. He’s identified as a partner with Event Strategies Inc., a management and production company. Caporale, formerly a top aide to first lady Melania Trump, was on the Trump campaign payroll for most of 2020, according to the FEC records, and he most recently was being paid $7,500 every two weeks. Caporale didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Tim Unes, the founder and president of Event Strategies, was the “stage manager” for the Jan. 6 rally, according to the permit paperwork. Unes has longstanding ties to Trump, a connection he highlights on his company’s website. Trump’s presidential campaign paid Event Strategies $1.3 million in 2020 for “audio visual services,” according to the campaign finance records. The company declined to comment for this story.

Another person with close ties to the Trump administration, Hannah Salem, was the rally’s “operations manager for logistics and communications,” according to the permit paperwork. In 2017, she took a hiatus from the consulting firm she founded and spent three years as senior White House press aide, “executing the media strategy for President Trump’s most high-profile events,” according to her company bio and LinkedIn profile.

Last week, within minutes of an AP reporter sending her a LinkedIn message asking about her involvement in and understanding of what happened on Jan. 6, Salem blocked the reporter and did not respond to questions.

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