WASHINGTON – The organizer of Saturday’s rally, aimed at recasting January 6 into something other than the violent insurgency it was, immediately appears as an unlikely messenger from the Republican far-right.
Until Matt Braynard became the face of a protest, organized to support hundreds of arrests during the Capitol Riots, the Republican agent had a relatively modest public profile, although a recent wave of false allegations by electoral fraud earned him financial support.
Still, as Saturday’s event approached, he’s been everywhere – including a Friday appearance on C-SPAN.
In recent days, Braynard has appeared to play down expectations about the size of the rally, saying the onerous security measures were aimed more at “intimidation” than protection and were designed to discourage people from attending the rally. event called “Justice for D6”.
“Everything is meant to deter people from coming,” said Braynard, a former Trump campaigner, whose group has attempted to portray most of the hundreds of people arrested in the attack on Capitol Hill as “political prisoners. “.
DC is preparing for the rally: The fencing returns to the Capitol before the rally of the right. What we know about the “Justice pour J6” demonstration
“It’s about cutting down on footfall. At the end of the day, it might just be me and a megaphone,” he told USA TODAY in a brief interview this week.
Braynard’s assessment, however, may not be far from the truth, although law enforcement is prepared for the violence.
There are few signs that Saturday’s event is supported by the far right, or will be witnessed by large numbers of extremists. On social media platforms popularized by far-right groups like the Proud Boys, discussion of the planned protest was torn between ambivalence and warnings for people not to attend the event.
On the secure Telegram messaging service, several accounts connected to the Proud Boys urged their subscribers not to attend the protest.
“We are not going to witness this guaranteed disaster,” read an article on the main Proud Boys Telegram channel.
From Trump employee to denial of election
A former Trump campaign data strategist, Braynard was fired in 2016 amid a reshuffle in the months leading up to the Republican National Convention. At the time, Politico reported that the campaign brought in an engineer with little political experience to fill Braynard’s post.
In the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s defeat in 2020, Braynard promoted the false narrative that spawned January 6: that the election of President Joe Biden was illegitimate.
During an appearance on Fox News in December, Braynard claimed to have provided possible “evidence” of electoral fraud to the Justice Department and state attorneys general across the country. The claims were formally dismissed by the courts and by then Attorney General William Barr, who said authorities had found no such evidence that would alter the outcome of the vote.
In court records, where Braynard is listed as a paid witness regarding alleged voting irregularities in Arizona, he includes a biography identifying himself as a director of External Affairs Inc., since 2004.
He said the cabinet has represented more than 200 candidates for public office, “from president to city council,” providing assistance with fundraising, polls and “voter targeting.” The court record in the Arizona case indicates that he was receiving costs of $ 40,000.
An entity associated with Braynard, called the Voter Integrity Project, established as a result of the election, said it raised $ 675,492 to fund so-called anti-voter fraud initiatives. The amount exceeded the announced target of $ 500,000.
Around the same time, Braynard referred to the Voter Integrity Project’s fundraising efforts as a model he used to revive his group Look Ahead America which is piloting Saturday’s rally.
“I have introduced this organization to some of the largest and most well-known right-wing donors and voices, many of whom have names you will recognize,” Braynard said in a statement posted on the group’s website. “But all of them blew me away because they didn’t understand the importance of our mission and the need for an operation like this to counter the hundreds of millions of dollars given to progressive nonprofits by globalists. and tech billionaires. “
At the very least, Braynard has caught the attention of a vast Washington security apparatus.
Capitol Police plan ‘safe’ rally, but be prepared for violence
Capitol Police and DC city officials said on Friday they were preparing for a safe Saturday gathering, but that intelligence analysts have heard warnings of potential violence.
Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said the department had worked tirelessly for weeks to bring together the training, personnel and equipment that would avoid a Jan.6 repeat. He said the goal was a peaceful protest.
âWe are planning a safe event tomorrow. But there have been threats of violence associated with tomorrow’s events, âManger said at a joint Capitol press conference with city police officials. âWe will not tolerate violence and we will not tolerate criminal behavior of any kind.
Manger said the greatest threat of violence is the possibility that attendees at the main rally near the Capitol will run into counter-protesters at Freedom Plaza near the White House. One of the three groups of potential counter-protesters has a history of violence, he said.
âIt’s hard to say whether they are credible or not. We don’t know for sure, “Manger said.” This is the most likely scenario for the violence. “
DC Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said his department would keep the two groups separate. He noted that there are many more events planned for Saturday, including an H Street community festival, concerts and sporting events, so police will be visible throughout the city.
Contee said police would take action against any violation of the city’s law against carrying firearms within 1,000 feet of a First Amendment assembly.
âWe’re ready,â Contee said.
What did Trump do during the Capitol Riots? : January 6 committee telecom requests aim to recreate minute-to-minute account
Police prepare for rally as a precaution against the January 6 riot, which caught police and federal agencies unawares.
On January 6, a crowd of thousands of Trump supporters besieged the Capitol at his behest. Hundreds of people burst into the building, temporarily preventing Congress from counting Electoral College votes that confirmed President Joe Biden had beaten Trump.
More than 600 people have been charged in the riot which left five dead and 140 police officers injured.
Police have reinstalled fences around the Capitol to keep people away from the historic building. Unarmed National Guard troops will be available to reinforce Capitol Police if events take longer than expected, Manger said.
âWe’ll be able to handle whatever happens,â Manger said.
According to Sean Gallagher, acting deputy capitol police chief for uniformed operations, police and federal agencies have spent weeks conducting training exercises, including a tabletop study of how forces will be deployed.
“Our officers are ready,” he said.
The permit for Saturday’s event provides for 700 people in attendance. But Manger said police don’t know how many will actually show up.
âWe’re also seeing mixed messages about whether or not people are coming,â Manger said. “As is often the case with intelligence, it’s not really clear.”
While Braynard has sought to tone down expectations and said he would continue if he was alone, he has raised funds to cover the costs of the rally.
Telegram channels devoted to the Proud Boys and the QAnon conspiracy theory were full of speculation that the September 18 demonstration was a trap set by the federal government to trap supporters of far-right causes.
“Reminder: don’t attend the September 18 FBI rally in Washington,” conspiracy theorist Ron Watkins has warned his more than 400,000 Telegram subscribers.
Half a dozen members of the Republican Chamber have criticized the treatment of the defendants who have been held pending trial. Representative Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, called them “political prisoners”.
But Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Said he did not expect members of the Republican Conference to attend the rally.
Contribution: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Justice for J6, organizer of former Trump staff member, campaigner of electoral fraud