A one-time aide to Roger Stone urged Donald Trump supporters to “descend on the Capitol,” in a recorded conference call obtained by The New York Times.
Communications expert Jason Sullivan told those calling in that the 2020 election had been stolen and added they should come to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, the day Congress met to finalize the electoral count.
During the recorded Dec. 30, 2020 call, Sullivan claimed he was “not inciting violence or any kind of riots.” He encouraged listeners to come to the Capitol to intimidate members of Congress, ensuring that those inside the building “understand that people are breathing down their necks.” He also said that Trump would also take action by enacting a kind of martial law beginning on Jan. 6 and that Trump would not leave office. “Biden will never be in that White House,” Sullivan said. “That’s my promise to each and every one of you.”
The news of the recorded conference call comes as the Justice Department investigates the Jan. 6 attack. The call illustrates some of the planning that culminated with a Capitol breach, as well as and how those involved viewed the date as integral to keeping Trump in office.
It also may broaden the scope of who may be held responsible for the attack, beyond those who were physically a part of the Capitol assault. Federal prosecutors, in public at least, have thus far focused on the rioters. But a congressional committee investigating the assault has looked at the organizing effort before Jan. 6, looking at people who planned the events that turned violent.
During the call, Sullivan pushed for a march on the Capitol. “There has to be a multiple-front strategy, and that multiple-front strategy, I do think, is descend on the Capitol, without question,” he said. “Make those people feel it inside.”
It’s unclear whether anyone specifically on the Sullivan call joined the attackers on Jan. 6, but his words appeared to instigate exerting pressure on lawmakers who would be in the midst of finalizing the electoral count. A lawyer for Sullivan told the Times that Sullivan simply “shared some encouragement” with what he explained as “people who all felt their their votes had been disenfranchised in the 2020 elections.”
In a statement, Sullivan said he participated in the call at the behest of a group of anti-vaxxers — whom he referred to as “health freedom advocate moms.”
“I only promoted peaceful solutions where Americans could raise their voices and be heard as expressed in our First Amendment,” Mr. Sullivan said in the statement. “I in no way condone the violence of any protesters.”