When Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) took the stage on Jan. 6 to rile up a crowd of Donald Trump supporters ahead of their violent siege of the U.S. Capitol, he was concealing a telling wardrobe choice.
Underneath his canary-yellow windbreaker, he was wearing body armor, the Republican told Slate on Wednesday.
“I was warned on [Jan. 4] that there might be risks associated with the next few days,” he told Slate’s Jim Newell. “And as a consequence of those warnings, I did not go to my condo. Instead, I slept on the floor of my office. And when I gave my speech at the Ellipse, I was wearing body armor.
“That’s why I was wearing that nice little windbreaker,” he reportedly added with a grin. “To cover up the body armor.”
In a follow-up statement Thursday, the congressman told CNN that he “had no information of any threats, by anybody, but from socialists, generally, Antifa and [Black Lives Matter] in particular” that day. He also compared it to bringing an umbrella in case it rains.
The revelation that Brooks, a staunch Trump ally, believed the rally and its aftermath could turn violent enough to justify wearing body armor very clearly undercuts the Republican claim that the violent assault on democracy was nought but harmless tourism.
In a fiery 10-minute speech that day that he delivered behind bulletproof glass, Brooks told the crowd about their ancestors who sacrificed their “blood, their sweat, their tears, their fortunes and sometimes their lives” before asking attendees if they were “willing to do the same.”
“Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” he added while he attacked “weak-knees Republicans” and encouraged people to “stop at the Capitol” on their way back home.
The crowd obliged.
As armed, violent insurrectionists stormed the Capitol and attempted to overturn the results of a free and fair election, Brooks’ colleagues in the House undoubtedly wished he’d tipped them off about wearing body armor, too.
In the immediate aftermath, Brooks attempted to recast his speech as nothing more than “a pep talk” for the elections to come in 2022 and 2024.
He also urged his Twitter followers to wait for an investigation before passing judgment. Six months later, Brooks voted against a bipartisan effort to conduct just such an investigation.
In the interim, Brooks so assiduously avoided being served a lawsuit for his role in the Capitol riot that process servers ended up serving the suit to his wife instead. The Republican responded by accidentally revealing his email password and other sensitive login information.