The former data chief for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign has announced a protest next month at the nation’s Capitol — to rail on behalf of so-called “political prisoners” charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
“We’re going back to the Capitol, right where it started. And it’s going to be huge,” Matt Braynard told former White House strategist Steve Bannon as he announced the rally on Bannon’s podcast last week.
The protest, “Justice for J6,” has been set for Sept. 18 at the Capitol. It’s being orchestrated by the group Look Ahead America, headed by Braynard.
“As we continue to raise the profiles of these individuals” who have been arrested, it “makes it harder and harder for the left’s phony narrative about an insurrection to stick,” Braynard told Bannon. “We’re going to push back on the phony narrative that there was an insurrection.”
Despite multiple dramatic videos of scenes to the contrary, Braynard told Bannon the crowd that day was “largely peaceful” — and simply “egged on in many cases by the Capitol Police.”
Braynard promised that “high-profile” speakers including members of Congress would attend the rally. He declined to reveal their identities to HuffPost until “confirmed.”
One person who met with Trump on Saturday at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, mentioned a “rally” by a “little bit of a special group” — though it wasn’t clear if the person was referring to the new “Justice for J6” protest.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) posted and then deleted a clip of that comment a day after former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows announced that Trump was meeting with “Cabinet members” — apparently as part of some imagined parallel presidency — to make “real” plans for the future. Trump is, of course, no longer president and has no real Cabinet.
Braynard told HuffPost he was unaware of that meeting or the video. He later clarified that the “rally” mentioned in the clip had nothing to do with his.
Braynard said he has already obtained permission for the rally from the Metropolitan Police Department, pending final checks the day of the protest.
An MPD spokesperson would not confirm to HuffPost that a permit had been approved. A Capitol Police spokesperson said the department is aware of the rally but cannot discuss a permit or security plans.
The rally is planned for the West Lawn of the Capitol, where protesters moved on the building after Trump told them to go there and “fight much harder.”
Braynard told HuffPost the rally is only in support of “nonviolent” Capitol protesters. That includes Ashli Babbit, who crawled through a broken window in a barricaded door to get to members of Congress. As a mob of rioters yelled “Let’s go” and “Fuck the blue,” a Capitol Police officer warned Babbit to stop before he fatally shot her. (The incident can be seen in a disturbing video here.)
Braynard claimed that Babbit had been “executed.” The officer who shot her has been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Braynard said the rally will focus on arrests linked to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol and will discourage protesters from holding signs about any election or candidates and will also discourage the use of “MAGA gear.” Asked if his group had been active on behalf of any peaceful “political prisoners” arrested at Black Lives Matter protests, he said: “I don’t know anything about that.”
Trump disciple and My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell initially said that the former president would somehow be reinstated to the White House in mid-August. He revised that prediction in an interview with a far-right-wing radio program last week, claiming instead that Trump will present “proof” next month to the Supreme Court that the election was “stolen by the Chinese.” No credible evidence has yet emerged to support this.
Nevertheless, Lindell believes that after Trump makes his case, the court could decide to order an election do-over. Maybe “that’s a thing,” he added.