Investigation into the assault on the Capitol: a mysterious crisis unit in a luxury hotel at the center of the investigation

A “crisis cell” led by advisers to Donald Trump from a luxury Washington hotel is now at the center of the parliamentary inquiry into the deadly attack on the Capitol on January 6.

Lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman, as well as Steve Bannon, a close ally of the ex-president, gathered at the Willard InterContinental, very close to the White House, before and after the assault on the seat of Congress by the thousands supporters of Mr. Trump who wanted to prevent elected officials from validating the victory of Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential election.

With other Republican officials, they are suspected of having made the connection between the White House and groups which took part in the big demonstration “Stop the steal” (“Stop the flight” of the elections) organized on January 6, according to the House of Representatives special commission of inquiry, which wants to prosecute Mr. Bannon for refusing to testify.

The explanations of the 67-year-old former adviser, one of the architects of Donald Trump’s victory in 2016, are considered essential to understand what the White House host was doing on the day of the assault.

Mr. Bannon is suspected by parliamentarians of having played a role “in the communication operation of the + Stop theft + campaign which motivated the attack” on the Capitol, and of having “participated in the events that day. From the Crisis Staff at the Willard Hotel.

“Lobbyists”

Since 1847, the elegant hotel has welcomed a wealthy clientele, politicians and dignitaries visiting the American capital or the White House.

The term “lobbyist” also seems to have been popularized in Washington to designate those who frequented the lobby of the Willard Hotel, hoping to approach President Ulysses Grant, a regular here.

In the lead-up to Jan.6, dozens of Donald Trump’s relatives involved in the attempt to overturn Biden’s election victory also visited the facility, according to freelance journalist Seth Abramson.

On his Proof website, Abramson quotes, among other things, Conservative political adviser Roger Stone, former spokesperson Jason Miller, campaign adviser Boris Epshteyn and ex-New York police chief Bernard Kerik.

The commission of inquiry wants to determine their responsibilities, and that of the former president himself, in the attack.

The Willard Hotel is also cited in the book “Peril”, by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, which recounts the final weeks of Mr. Trump’s tenure.

According to them, the lawyer John Eastman would have developed an unprecedented legal argument allowing Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification by Congress of the results of the presidential election by arguing of fraud – accusations hammered out by the Trump camp but which do not ‘have never been proven.

“The moment to attack”

On January 5, Donald Trump announced to his supporters that Mr. Pence had agreed to block the vote.

But according to the authors of “Peril”, the vice-president had refused this option during a meeting the same evening.

After the interview, Mr. Trump called at least once the “crisis staff” of the Willard Hotel to “coordinate this attempt to speak for” his vice president, Robert Costa explained on MSNBC on Monday. .

Who did he talk to? What did they say to each other? The parliamentary commission of inquiry would like to obtain the telephone records of the exchanges linked to the events of January 6, and to question other people present in the hotel.

According to “Peril,” Steve Bannon in December encouraged Mr. Trump to use so-called electoral fraud to prevent the January 6 vote.

In a January 5 podcast, he predicted the “victory” of this strategy the next day. “Everything converges and it’s time to attack,” he said.

The operations at Willard, however, were no secret.

In May, John Eastman mentioned on a Denver radio this “Willard Hotel Crisis Staff.” [qui] coordinated all communications ”.

The exchanges between the White House and the occupants of the Willard hotel will in any case have been decisive for the attack the next day, estimated Bob Woodward Monday on MSNBC.

Steve Bannon and Donald Trump “realized this was the time to blow things up, and that’s exactly what they did,” he said.

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