Investigators want to determine whether anyone who influenced the protesters has sufficient responsibility to answer for possible criminal charges.
MANIFESTATION. Alex Jones joined supporters of President Donald Trump in Washington, DC, on December 12. | Photo: Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post.
The Justice Department and the FBI are investigating whether high-profile right-wing figures, including Roger Stone and Alex Jones, may have played a role in the Jan.6 assault on the Capitol, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The investigation into possible links between key figures in the unrest and those who promoted former President Donald Trump’s false claims that the elections were stolen from him does not mean that those who may have influenced the rioters will face criminal charges.
Officials at this stage of the investigation said they primarily seek to understand what the rioters thought and who may have influenced the beliefs, which could be critical in showing their intentions at trial, The Washington Post reported.
However, investigators also want to determine whether anyone who influenced them has sufficient responsibility to justify possible criminal charges, such as conspiracy or aiding the effort. Although that perspective is still distant and uncertain, they emphasized.
However, while the Donald Trump’s impeachment trial focused on the degree of his guilt for the violence, this facet of the case shows investigators’ continued interest in others who never set foot on Capitol Hill but who may have played a pivotal role in what happened there through their influence, networks, or action.
“We are investigating possible links between those physically involved in the attack on the Capitol and the people who may have influenced them, such as Roger Stone, Alex Jones and (Stop the Steal organizer) Ali Alexander,” said a US official who, like others , spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a pending matter.
Stone is a longtime Trump adviser, while Jones is a webcast and radio host behind Infowars.com. Both are frequent purveyors of conspiracy theories: Stone wrote a book suggesting that Lyndon B. Johnson was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy; Jones has disseminated and retracted claims that the Sandy Hook school shooting was an alleged “hoax.”
All three amplified and intensified Trump’s inflammatory claims that the 2020 election was illegitimate in the weeks leading up to the riots. But Stone and Alexander have taken direct credit for inspiring and planning the pro-Trump Stop the Steal campaign, and Alexander said he came up with the idea and helped organize the January 6 rally that drew Trump supporters to Washington.
Stone and Jones also promoted the extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers and had pre-existing business or personal ties with members the administration has tasked with coordinating and planning certain actions at Trump events, records and documents show.
A key task for prosecutors and agents is to examine the multitude of motives and intentions of the approximately 800 people who descended on the Capitol.
The US official and others familiar with the investigation cautioned that the role of people like Stone and Jones may be important primarily in painting a complete picture of the events of that day, regardless of whether they ultimately escalate to the level of conspiracy or other crimes.
Stone and Jones helped promote Trump’s false claims of fraud and earlier demonstrations in Washington. In addition, they participated in pro-Trump events on January 5 and 6, but both have denied intending to do anything other than a peaceful protest.
Shortly after the riot, Jones told Infowars that he was invited by the White House on January 3 to “lead the march” to the Capitol, and that he paid nearly $ 500,000, mostly donated, to help organize the event at the Ellipse.
Jones vigorously promoted the event, summoning a million protesters, and told his viewers on January 1: “Roger Stone spent substantial time with Trump in Florida just a few days ago, and I have been told that there are great things going on and Trump has become important actions up his sleeve ».
A day before the insurrection, Jones urged a pro-Trump crowd at Freedom Plaza in central Washington to “resist the globalists.” In a Jan.6 post from near the same location, he declared “1776,” a term adopted by Trump fans that called for a kind of second anti-government revolution. “We are under attack and we must understand that this is a 21st century war and put ourselves on the warpath,” Jones said.
That day, however, Jones said he followed, but did not lead, the crowd of protesters as people moved toward the Capitol and was alarmed by the chaos.
“Let’s not fight the police and give the system what it wants,” Jones was recorded screaming that day. His lawyer Marc Randazza said the video shows Jones urging calm, adding: “If you want to know what Alex Jones’ role was (on January 6), you don’t need to look beyond the video.”
Later, Jones is heard saying, “Trump is going to speak here! Trump’s Coming! ”In what appears to be an attempt to distract a crowd from the embattled west front of the building.
Stone’s attorney, Grant Smith, said in a statement: “There is no evidence that Roger Stone was in any way involved or had prior knowledge of the shocking attack that took place on the United States Capitol on January 6. Any implication to the contrary using ‘guilt by association’ is both dishonest and inaccurate “.