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Politics : A Hard Look At Donald Trump

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From: Glenn Petersen10/26/2021 12:56:56 PM
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Rep. Mo Brooks, denying planning role in Jan. 6 rally, says he’d be ‘proud’ if his staff helped out

By Timothy Bella
The Washington Post
Today at 10:08 a.m. EDT|
Updated today at 11:16 a.m. EDT

Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) on Monday disputed a report that he had a role in organizing the rally on Jan. 6 that immediately preceded the riot at the U.S. Capitol. But his denial came with a note: Brooks said he would be “proud” if any of his staff had a role in planning the rally held moments before a riot that caused five deaths and hundreds of people being injured.

Brooks responded to a Rolling Stone report that found the GOP congressman or his staff to have been in contact with two unnamed organizers of the Jan. 6 rally and similar gatherings following the 2020 presidential election.

He told AL.com that the “beginning” of his involvement in the rally was when the White House asked him to speak the day before, saying he “had no intentions of going to that rally until Jan. 5.” While the congressman could not say whether any of his staff worked on the Jan. 6 rally, he acknowledged that he would be happy if they had helped organize it.

“Quite frankly, I’d be proud of them if they did help organize a First Amendment rally to protest voter fraud and election theft,” Brooks said of his staff to the outlet.

Brooks, who has pushed falsehoods about “massive voter fraud” during the 2020 election without evidence, repeated his answer to CNN’s Melanie Zanona on Monday, specifying that he would be proud if any of his staff had a role in planning the Jan. 6 rally “ at the Ellipse.”

A spokesman for Brooks did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Tuesday from The Post. Brooks has previously said he did not do anything wrong by speaking at the event.

The Alabama congressman’s response comes at a time when Brooks, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat next year, has been accused in a lawsuit of helping to incite the riot.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) filed a lawsuit earlier this year against Brooks, former president Donald Trump and several others for giving speeches at the Jan. 6 rally in which they falsely claimed the 2020 election results were fraudulent and encouraged rallygoers to march on the Capitol, where Congress was holding an accounting of the electoral college votes that would make Joe Biden president. Brooks, who told the crowd at the rally to “start taking down names and kicking a--,” asked a federal judge in August to grant him immunity from the lawsuit.

Earlier this month, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection issued another round of subpoenas for those connected to the “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the violent insurrection at the Capitol. In the weeks leading up to Jan. 6, right-wing provocateur Ali Alexander, the leader of Stop the Steal, said in a since-deleted video that he had planned to put “maximum pressure on Congress” during the vote to certify the electoral college votes. In that video, he claimed he had help from three GOP lawmakers: Brooks and Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.) and Paul A. Gosar (Ariz.). Brooks and Biggs previously denied aiding Alexander with planning the rally.

On Sunday, Rolling Stone reported that Brooks was among a GOP group of House lawmakers, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.) and Lauren Boebert (Colo.), who either planned or had top staff members plan the Jan. 6 rally. The report did not specify the level of involvement that Brooks or his staff had in organizing the rally.

Brooks told the Montgomery Advertiser that he only agreed to speak at the rally that day if he was given an early time slot and enough time to speak, saying he was focused on speeches intended for Congress as the chambers certified the election results. He maintained that he had no role in fundraising for the rally or overseeing logistics.

“I was really busy,” Brooks said to the newspaper. “I was working on speeches for the House floor debates.”

Yet Brooks, who acknowledged he was wearing body armor at the rally, urged the Trump supporters gathered on the Ellipse near the White House to fight back against voter fraud. The congressman later claimed he was referring to elections in 2022 and 2024.

Brooks, without evidence, blamed “militants,” such as the Proud Boys and QAnon, for the riot instead of Trump supporters.

“They executed that attack by using the rally as cover, and also using the rally to induce other people to attack the Capitol,” he told the Advertiser.

Democrats and critics were quick to note Tuesday how Brooks appeared to suggest his own staff played a role in the Jan. 6 rally. Joyce White Vance, a professor at the University of Alabama Law School who was appointed as a U.S. district judge under President Barack Obama, tweeted that Brooks’s response to his role in the Jan. 6 rally raised more questions about why he was there in the first place.

“It takes a little time & a good bit of money to get the right body armor & it’s not particularly comfortable to wear,” she said. “It seems fair to ask Mo Brooks, under oath, what made him think it was worth going to the trouble.”

Michael Fanone, the D.C. police officer who was dragged into a pro-Trump mob and beaten while fighting insurrectionists at the Capitol, reiterated Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” the danger surrounding those who continue to downplay the events of Jan. 6.

“If you describe that day as anything other than brutal and violent and a disgrace to this country, you’re lying to yourself and you’re lying to those around you,” he said.

Mo Brooks says he’d be ‘proud’ if staff helped organize Jan. 6 rally preceding Capitol riot - The Washington Post
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