Witness says plans to descend on Capitol were deliberate

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Thousands of Donald Trump supporters storm the United States Capitol building following a "Stop the Steal" rally on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. The protesters stormed the historic building, breaking windows and clashing with police. Trump supporters had gathered in the nation's capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Pierson, who was subpoenaed by the select committee back in September, has denied the accusations and Chris Barron, a spokesman for Kylie Kremer, has categorically denied Johnston’s account to Rolling Stone. 

In the interview, however, Johnston said it was late Dec. 2020 when he overhead Kremer hashing out ideas for a march to the Capitol while she was on speakerphone. He was driving her between different pro-Trump events.  

“They were very open about how there was going to be a march. Everyone knew there was going to be a march,” Johnston recalled.

But when Meadows, Kremer, and Pierson wrestled with the idea of needing to obtain a permit for the march, beyond the increased security it would garner, there was also shared apprehension about the optics. 

Having an organized march on the U.S. Capitol, inspired by the outgoing president, was not a good public-facing look, they decided. Instead, Johnston claims, the Trump officials thought of a clever workaround.

They would “direct the people down there and make it look like they went down there on their own,” Johnston told Rolling Stone.

That conversation reportedly took place on a burner phone; one of many Johnston said he purchased at Women for America First co-founder Kylie Kremer’s request.

Johnston said Kremer explicitly asked him to purchase the burner phones on Dec. 28 so campaign staff could talk to high-level officials.

In the conversation he overheard, Johnston said Kylie Kremer was insistent that Women for America First and the march on the Capitol would not be publicly linked. 

According to Rolling Stone:

Johnston says Meadows was willing to help secure a permit for the march but was also amenable to Trump supporters converging on the Capitol without one.

Meadows has outwardly maintained that the riot on Jan. 6 was in no way premeditated and the spokesperson for Kremer insinuated Johnston was a liar. He called Johnston’s accounting of the phone called “absolutely false.”

“If anyone gave testimony to the J6 committee claiming that such a call took place, and that was the substance of the call, should be incredibly concerned. The last I looked, lying to Congress was a crime,” Barron told the magazine Sunday.

Pierson has disputed the call and Johnston’s retelling, calling his actions defamatory. A review of phone records would disprove his allegations, she said.

Only one other person would have been witness to the call and potentially overheard the plan, Johnston says. That would be fellow Trump rally planner Matthew McCleskey. 

But McCleskey has denied being present for the call and said Johnston’s account was “not true.”

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