As much as the Trump administration tries to distance itself from the violent aftermath of the “Stop the Steal” rally eleven days ago, the direct involvement of the defeated president’s campaign staffers in organizing the event has now become apparent.
The Associated Press is reporting today that, according to their review of the paperwork filed to get permission for the rally, “members of President Donald Trump’s failed presidential campaign played key roles in orchestrating” the event, damaging any claims that the rally was organized by grassroots supporters of the sore-losing president.
While nominally, a pro-Trump nonprofit group named Women for America First was the ostensible hosts of the rally, “an attachment to the National Park Service public gathering permit granted to the group lists more than half a dozen people in staff positions for the event who just weeks earlier had been paid thousands of dollars by Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign,” the AP reports. The list of personnel scheduled to be at the protest according to the permit application also includes many people with “close ties to the White House,” the news organization says.
This revelation about the permit for the demonstration proves the lie of the Trump campaign’s public statement saying that it “did not organize, operate or finance the event,” and that none of its campaign staff members were involved in the organization or operation of the rally. Covering their butts, the campaign further said that if any former employees or independent contractors for the campaign did turn out to be involved in the protest, “they did not do so at the direction of the Trump campaign.”
Here’s the truth, according to the AP:
“At least one was working for the Trump campaign this month. Megan Powers was listed as one of two operations managers for the Jan. 6 event, and her LinkedIn profile says she was the Trump campaign’s director of operations into January 2021.”
The behavior of at least three of the Trump campaign aides named on the permit suggests that they are scrambling to coverup their involvement in the disastrous debacle.
“They deactivated or locked down their social media profiles and removed tweets that referenced the rally. Two blocked a reporter who asked questions,” the AP story reveals.
One of the Trump campaign staffers, veteran Republican fundraiser Caroline Wren, is listed as a “VIP Advisor” on an attachment to the permit that Women for America First provided to the National Park Service which had jurisdiction over the area where the rally was initially staged before Trump urged the crowd to march to the Capitol.
According to the Associated Press:
“Between mid-March and mid-November, Donald J. Trump for President Inc. paid Wren $20,000 a month, according to Federal Election Commission records. During the campaign, she was a national finance consultant for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee between the president’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee.”
“Wren was involved in at least one call before the pro-Trump rally with members of several groups listed as rally participants to organize credentials for VIP attendees, according to Kimberly Fletcher, the president of one of those groups, Moms for America.”
“Wren retweeted messages about the event ahead of time, but a cache of her account on Google shows at least eight of those tweets disappeared from her timeline. She apparently removed some herself, and others were sent from accounts that Twitter suspended.”
“One of the messages Wren retweeted was from “Stop the Steal,” another group identified as a rally participant on a website promoting the event. The Jan. 2 message thanked Republican senators who said they would vote to overturn Biden’s election victory, including Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas. She also retweeted a Jan. 1 message from the president promoting the event, as well as promotional messages from one of the president’s son, Eric Trump, and Katrina Pierson, a Tea Party activist and a spokesperson for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.”
Such behavior hardly seems like the lack of involvement that the Trump campaign officials claim.
Another campaign staffer with close ties to the Trump administration who deleted tweets promoting the rally was Maggie Mulvaney, a niece of former Trump White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Ms. Mulvaney is listed on the permit attachment as the “VIP Lead,” another sign of the close coordination between the president’s campaign staff and the rally organizers.
The Associated Press report goes on to list several other former Trump campaign staffers who played important roles in organizing the event.
Kimberly Fletcher, the president of Moms for America, one of the groups involved in the rally, says that she wasn’t aware of the Trump campaign’s role in the event at the Ellipse until around New Year’s Day. Saying that she never worked 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,’” Fletcher told the AP. “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.”
Perhaps it was Hannah Salem, the rally’s “operations manager for logistics and communications,” according to the permit paperwork.
Salem 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.
With the number of people who worked directly with the Trump campaign involved in various aspects of planning and coordinating for the rally before it turned so deadly, it will be difficult for Trump and his aides to claim that his campaign was not intimately involved in helping it come together.
At least now, thanks to the journalists at the Associated Press, America has proof of the involvement that may come in very handy in Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.