To hear Andrew McCarthy tell it, Donald Trump’s racuous speech at the Ellipse on January 6 ended with a “Braveheart” moment when the president beseeched his throng of weapon-wielding supporters to attack government leaders at the U.S. Capitol that afternoon.
Last week’s testimony by Cassidy Hutchinson, the junior White House aide who made a number of dubious claims under oath, has been accepted as fact by most of the corporate news media and NeverTrump pundits including McCarthy, as I explained here. In response to leading questions by Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Hutchinson claimed both the president and chief of staff Mark Meadows knew by mid-morning that the crowd was filled with “armed” supporters but Trump nonetheless urged those alleged self-styled soldiers to head to Capitol Hill as the joint session of Congress was underway.
In a clip of her closed-door testimony to the committee—the loquacious aide met three times with committee investigators talking for roughly 20 hours relying at times on a thick folder of notes—Hutchinson ticked off a list of weapons allegedly confiscated by 10 a.m. as rally-goers passed through security screeners known as magnetometers. Reading from a page in her binder, Hutchinson recalled a conversation with deputy White House chief of staff Tony Ornato, who described the cache to Meadows and her. “I remember Tony mentioning knives, guns in the form of pistols and rifles, um, bear spray, body armor, spears, and flagpoles,” she said.
She further stated that Ornato informed the president about the seized weapons but Trump dismissed any concern and instead instructed his team to “take the effing mags away,” referring to the magnetometers, Hutchinson claimed.
Cheney added more flair to the dramatic scenario by playing radio transmissions she said were obtained from the D.C. Metro Police department. One dispatcher reported that “three men walking down the street in fatigues carrying AR-15 . . . at 14th and Independence.” Another recording indicated a man with a “rifle” was seen near the Ellipse.
Setting aside serious questions as to why these men weren’t found and arrested given their close proximity not only to the president but numerous government officials present at the rally that morning, if true, how is that Trump’s fault? Why did Cheney assume the alleged “armed” men were Trump supporters? She had no other identifying information like, say, an arrest record detailing the motive of the suspects. Who were they? Were their weapons even real? Loaded?
Further, the idea of armed marauders freely roaming downtown D.C. with impunity is absurd; the place was crawling with both undercover and uniformed agents from multiple law enforcement agencies.
The implausibility of Cheney’s story did not discourage the January 6 echo chamber rom running with it, full bore. “Trump knew, in the moments before he took to the podium to give his rambunctious Ellipse speech, that the mob was armed to the teeth, including with firearms,” McCarthy wrote in the New York Post on June 29. “He knew an armed mob would be headed to the Hill. Yet, he intentionally whipped them up with his speech. What’s more, he intended personally to lead the protest march. The patent purpose was to intimidate.”
The January 6 committee posted a tweet shortly after Hutchinson’s performance claiming “Trump wanted to go to the Capitol with the armed mob, despite warnings not to do so from his advisors.” Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), always the victim, whined that lawmakers were “sitting ducks” on January 6. “The leader of the executive branch instructed an armed + dangerous mob to attack the legislative branch,” Swalwell tweeted. “We will not move on from this. We will not forget this. We will not forgive this.”
His colleague, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) demanded Trump be sent to jail for attempting an armed “coup.”
Of course, it only would have required the most cursory search to discover whether a mob of Trump supporters “armed to the teeth, including with firearms” actually existed; if a “conservative” influencer had any interest in being honest with his readers rather than acting as a reckless propaganda organ for Cheney and House Democrats, said influencer quickly would learn that a total of 13 people have been arrested for firearms violations related to the events of January 6; only six face firearms charges in the Justice Department’s Capitol breach probe.
Of the six, three men—Guy Reffitt, Mark Mazza, and Mark Ibrahim—are accused of being on Capitol grounds on January 6. None entered the building. Ibrahim was an agent with the Drug Enforcement Agency and was off-duty at the time; neither Reffitt nor Mazza attempted to use their firearm on January 6. Both were arrested months after the protest.
Law enforcement found firearms in the truck of Lonnie Coffman, who parked his vehicle near Capitol Hill that morning after driving to D.C. from Alabama, on the evening of January 6. (It’s unclear whether Coffman attended Trump’s speech and there are no photographs of Coffman on Capitol grounds.) When police confronted Coffman, 70, they found two loaded pistols on his person. He has been sentenced to 46 months in prison after pleading guilty to two firearms violations.
Christopher Alberts was arrested around 7:30 p.m. on Capitol grounds after police discovered a 9 mm pistol in his pocket. Alberts’ charging documents do not mention his attendance at Trump’s speech or at the protest earlier in the day. Police also found guns and ammunition on January 7 in a vehicle belonging to Cleveland Meredith, Jr., but he was not accused of bringing any weapons to Trump’s speech or to the Capitol the day before. Meredith pleaded guilty to one count of interstate communications of threat.
So, just to restate for the willfully ignorant in the back row: Out of hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters in Washington, D.C. and a few thousand who then walked to the Capitol, only six have been charged for possessing firearms—and one left his guns in his vehicle. (That’s also assuming Alberts is a Trump supporter.)
And what about the so-called “militia groups” who breached the Capitol that day? Roughly three-dozen members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers face criminal charges, including the rare count of seditious conspiracy. Not a single member of the Oath Keepers has been charged with a weapons offense let alone a firearms violation. In fact, those who traveled to D.C. with guns were very careful, as court documents prove, to leave weapons at their hotel rooms in Virginia rather than take them to the capital on January 6.
One Proud Boy, Dominic Pezzola, is accused of using a weapon to break a window—and he used a Capitol Police riot shield, not anything he brought with him to the Capitol. The ringleaders of the Proud Boys—Enrique Tarrio, Ethan Nordean, and Joseph Biggs—face no weapons or firearms charges related to January 6.
Worst militias ever.
As of last month, according to the Justice Department, about 80 Capitol protesters have been charged with possessing a “dangerous or deadly weapon.” Examples of those weapons include pepper spray, flags, walking sticks or batons, a helmet, a taser, and a fire extinguisher—hardly the kind of items that could be successfully used in overthrowing the government.
Without question, a handful of protesters brought some sort of weapon to cause trouble on January 6, however, several told me they brought things like pepper spray because they had been attacked, or heard of the attacks against Trump supporters, at Stop the Steal rallies in D.C. in late 2020.
But there was no such thing as an “armed mob” let alone one “armed to the teeth with firearms.” This is yet another in a long string of falsehoods fabricated by the regime and dutifully echoed in the news media and “conservative” opinion sites. As I’ve asked over and over, if January 6 was so bad, why do they have to keep lying about it?