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How Republican Politics (And Twitter) Created Ali Alexander, The Man Behind ‘Stop The Steal’

Luke O'Brien
·Senior Reporter, HuffPost
·52-min read
(Photo: Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost; Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Illustration:Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost; Photo: Getty)

High above Constitution Avenue, on a rooftop terrace, “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander gazed down at the U.S. Capitol and the chaos he’d helped unleash.

A mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters had just stormed the U.S. Capitol, forcing members of Congress to scramble for safety. White nationalists, QAnon cultists and Make America Great Again extremists roamed the halls hunting for politicians. Some carried zip-tie handcuffs. One wore a sweatshirt that read “Camp Auschwitz.”

“I don’t disavow this,” Alexander said, pointing to the scene below.

The longtime Republican political operative had spent months working with Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and far-right activists, such as Mike Cernovich, to organize nationwide protests aimed at invalidating Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win. Alexander knew plenty of influential Republicans, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who led an effort in the Senate to dispute the election results. He had connections to the Republican Attorneys General Association, which was also involved in promoting the rally-turned-riot.

Alexander had plenty of friends in low places, too: far-right Twitter influencers and grifters; members of the violent neo-fascist Proud Boys gang who showed up at his protests; Nick Fuentes, a prominent far-right extremist who participated in 2017’s deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Fuentes said in 2019 that he could accurately be described as a white nationalist, being both “white” and a “nationalist,” and just two days before the riot he seemingly encouraged his followers to kill legislators.

Unsurprisingly, several of Alexander’s previous Stop the Steal events had inspired bloodshed. But none of them ― and nothing in American history ― compared to what happened Jan. 6.

The warning signs were ominous. Before the rally, white nationalists and militia members talked about smuggling guns into D.C. Pro-Trump internet forums crackled with homicidal chatter and plans to lay siege to the Capitol. And the Proud Boys were back in town. They’d turned out by the hundreds for Alexander’s two other Stop the Steal events in Washington. Brawls and stabbings occurred after those demonstrations. The Proud Boys attacked residents. In December, they ripped a Black Lives Matter banner off a Black church and burned it in the street. Their leader, Enrique “Henry” Tarrio, was arrested on Jan. 4 with high-capacity firearms magazines as he entered the city.

At the rally, the president whipped up demonstrators with a speech on the White House Ellipse, where Alexander had a front-row seat. “We will not take it anymore,” Trump said. “We will stop the steal.” The demagogue then pointed his supporters toward the heart of American democracy.

The mob arrived at the Capitol just before 1 p.m. Insurrectionists smashed through barricades and police lines. Once inside, they looted and vandalized. They urinated and defecated on floors. One of them scrawled “Murder the media” on a set of doors. Many were far-right extremists, including a Proud Boy allegedly looking to kill then-Vice President Mike Pence. Men carrying a flag from Fuentes’ “America First” group prowled through the building. Another Alexander associate, Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet, a veteran of the Charlottesville rally, livestreamed himself inside the Capitol and was later arrested.

But it was the fate of Ashli Babbitt, a military veteran and QAnon conspiracy theory devotee, that crystallized to what lengths some would go on behalf of Trump. On Twitter, Babbitt was in thrall to MAGA propagandists and Stop the Steal organizers such as Jack Posobiecone of Alexander’s close friends and a prolific spreader of disinformation, including the Pizzagate sex trafficking conspiracy theory that in 2016 resulted in a pro-Trump gunman storming a restaurant in Washington, D.C. On Jan. 5, Posobiec tweeted a photo of a plane loaded with Trump supporters traveling to Washington and described them, seemingly in jest, as “domestic terrorists.” Babbitt retweeted the message. It was her penultimate act on a platform that helped radicalize her.

The next day, she stormed the Capitol and tried to force her way through a broken window into the House chamber. A Capitol Police officer shot her in the neck. Babbitt died.

Police would later find pipe bombs outside the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee offices. They’d find Molotov cocktails in a nearby truck. National security experts declared the attack domestic terrorism. Seven people died in the mayhem or by suicide in the immediate aftermath, including three Capitol Police officers.

“I do not denounce this,” Alexander reiterated from his rooftop perch, impassively surveying the Capitol grounds in a video posted to Twitter by one of his associates and preserved by Kristen Doerer at Right Wing Watch.

On Twitter, Alexander had called violence a “natural right.” He was a prominent influencer on the platform, with almost 200,000 followers. “I am a sincere advocate for violence and war, when justified,” he tweeted in 2019. “I recognize no law above what is natural and good.” A militant Christianity has permeated his extremism; he has spoken often about being an agent of God.

Insomuch as he was a zealot, however, he was also out to make a buck. His Jan. 6 protest, which he’d dubbed the Wild Protest after Trump promoted his “March to Save America” event on Twitter ― “Be there, will be wild!” the president tweeted ― had brought in almost $200,000 in donations in just over two weeks. On his Stop the Steal site, Alexander hawked $45 T-shirts, $40 baseball caps and $75 yard signs. A bumper sticker cost $17.76. On merchandise site Gumroad, he sold self-designed “New Crusades” T-shirts for $55. Alexander hadn’t bothered to set up a business or a nonprofit, he admitted on his personal site, where he peddled a “persuasion” class for $198. Stop the Steal donations flowed initially into his personal accounts. In mid-November, his lawyer, Baron Coleman, who has also served as local counsel in Alabama for Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes, registered a limited-liability company, or LLC. One of Alexander’s partners set up a political action committee.

To radical Republicans, he was worth it. Alexander, 36, represented the possibility of a multiracial far-right coalition and put a diverse sheen on a movement founded on white supremacy. And he did it from within. A lifelong product of Republican politics and activism who’d radicalized in step with his party, Alexander embodied a turn toward outright fascism. His Stop the Steal movement was simply a Trumpified extension of decades of Republican efforts to invalidate Democratic votes, especially Black ones, with false accusations of “fraud.”

The day before the riot, Alexander bounded onto a stage in Freedom Plaza in downtown Washington to prepare protesters for “rebellion.” “Victory or death!” he cried, leading Trump supporters in a chant. Proud Boys and militia members were in the crowd. Some carried knives and clubs. “These degenerates in the deep state are going to give us what we want or we are going to shut this country down!” Alexander shouted as a cold rain fell. “Our government should be afraid.”

Petty Crime, Conservative Politics

Ali Alexander was once Ali Abdul-Razaq Akbar. Alexander, who was born in Texas, claims his father was an exchange student from a “prominent family” in the United Arab Emirates who abandoned him and his Black mother when Alexander was a toddler. He says his mother raised him by herself in Fort Worth, where he went to Fossil Ridge High School. Even then, he was a conservative political junkie who liked to talk about the big sponsors he’d land who would take him to the “hieghts of the Hill” one day, as he wrote in 2005.

“Very early as a child, I sought power. I sought power and influence,” Alexander would later say.

After high school, however, he got into legal trouble. He briefly attended the University of North Texas but dropped out in 2006 and was arrested that year for stealing property. A month later, he was arrested again for debit card abuse. In 2007 and 2008, the charges resulted in felony convictions.

But the Republican Party took him in. Alexander recognized Twitter’s potential for political activism early on, creating his account less than a year after the platform launched. “I was like the first [of] four political operatives that joined Twitter, and we made sure there was mass adoption on the Republican side,” he later told Cernovich in a podcast. Alexander also had a knack for graphic design and web development. He started setting up right-wing blogs, including one that attacked then-presidential candidate Barack Obama as an elitist trying to “marginalize traditional Americans.” On his personal blog, Alexander embraced a right-wing “birther” conspiracy that disputed Obama’s birthplace and racial identity. He wrote that Obama was an “African man (he is not Black!).”

In 2008, Alexander was a “member of the Republican National Convention Floor Operations team” and a contributor to a blog called “Hip-Hop Republican.” He had quickly reinvented himself as a Republican “operative.”

By 2009, at the latest, he was attending the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, an important gathering of right-wing activists and elected officials, where he would become a fixture. That year, former New York State Assembly Republican Leader Jim Tedisco brought on Alexander to run his online campaign in a special congressional election. The “tea party” movement had also roared to life, fueled by the same vengeful nativism and conspiratorial thinking as Trump’s Make America Great Again movement. Alexander worked on tea party news sites and helped tea party candidates boost their online presence.

Ali Alexander with Republican megadonor David Koch. (Photo: Instagram: Ali Alexander)
Ali Alexander with Republican megadonor David Koch. (Photo: Instagram: Ali Alexander)

In 2010, a tide of dark money from the conservative billionaire Koch brothers swept numerous tea party candidates into Congress, locking the GOP into culture warfare and vaulting Alexander into a higher echelon of Republican politics. For a small-time hustler, it was like being called up to the majors. In Texas, his mother, Lydia Dews, who did not respond to a request for comment, registered a company — presumably a political consultancy — called Vice and Victory Agency. It received more than $40,000 from a tea party PAC that Politico later dubbed a “scam PAC. The PAC’s designated agent, Dan Backer, went on to run several major Trump super PACs.

“The majority of my work and my money comes from electoral politics,” Alexander later explained. “So super PACs, billionaires and millionaires approach me to make sure that their money is going to causes that they believe in.”

Early in his career, Alexander appears to have come to the attention of Mike Roman, the head of Charles and David Koch’s “competitive intelligence” team, a surveillance and intelligence-gathering unit that the Koch Industries brothers used to monitor and counteract liberal groups and activists. Roman, one of Alexander’s first Twitter followers, took to occasionally boosting the young operative’s account. Roman would go on to work for Trump, first in 2016 to oversee “election protection,” and, later, in the White House, where his duties were shrouded in secrecy, according to Politico. (On Election Day in 2020, Roman tweeted viral disinformation about Democratic voter fraud and was among the first people to amplify a “Stop the Steal” hashtag tweeted early that morning by Posobiec.)

In 2011, Alexander found his way to the heart of the GOP’s minority rule project when the Leadership Institute, a conservative grassroots training organization in Washington, invited Alexander, who was still on probation for debit card abuse, to give a presentation about online fundraising. The organization’s notable alumni include former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and violent pro-Trump neo-Nazi Matthew Heimbach, who told HuffPost in 2016 that the Leadership Institute had trained “this entire next generation of white nationalists.”

Alexander forged other connections with prominent conservatives through Blog Bash, an afterparty for bloggers that he helped organize at CPAC. It was sponsored at times by organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, Facebook and the Koch’s libertarian FreedomWorks organization. In 2012, Blog Bash honored James O’Keefe, a Robert Mercer-financed Republican operative who has been labeled a “dirty trickster,” for a film he made that purported to show voter fraud in New Hampshire. (Republicans have used O’Keefe’s “stings” to support restrictive voter ID laws in state legislatures across the country.) With right-wing publisher Andrew Breitbart in attendance, O’Keefe gave a three-word acceptance speech: “Fuck the media!” In 2013, Ted Cruz shared the Blog Bash stage with Alexander. The freshman tea party senator delivered a softer, long-winded version of O’Keefe’s speech, but his anti-media sentiment was palpable and foreshadowed not only Trump’s authoritarian assault on the press but also the online propaganda machine that activists like Breitbart were building for the GOP.

“You scare the hell out of Washington,” Cruz told the right-wing bloggers. “Y’all are on the front lines, taking this country back.”

Ali Alexander, Blog Bash co-organizer Melissa Clouthier and Ted Cruz at Blog Bash in 2013. (Photo: YouTube)
Ali Alexander, Blog Bash co-organizer Melissa Clouthier and Ted Cruz at Blog Bash in 2013. (Photo: YouTube)

Money was rolling in for Alexander. When he and his partners used Blog Bash to launch the National Bloggers Club, a collective they claimed would “fund private reporting projects,” Republican megadonor Foster Friess, a co-owner of the right-wing Daily Caller, put up seed money. The group didn’t seem to do much beyond solicit donations for CJ Pearson, a 12-year-old Black conservative who’d become a darling of Fox News after denigrating Obama. Alexander somehow became Pearson’s “manager.” (Pearson, now 18, was one of Alexander’s Stop the Steal accomplices and was slated to be a speaker at the Wild Protest.)

By 2014, Alexander had landed a gig as communications director for the Republican Leadership Conference — a smaller, Southern version of CPAC that is now called the Southern Republican Leadership Conference. The event was in New Orleans that year. Cruz was headlining. But another speaker captured Alexander’s attention: Donald Trump. The crooked Manhattan oligarch’s popularity had soared among conservative voters after his racist “birther” attacks on Obama.

In New Orleans, Alexander and the future president met for the first time. Alexander at first claimed they hung out for 45 minutes ― later, he upped it to four hours ― and that his resemblance to Sammy Davis Jr. left an impression on Trump. Alexander has often used the meeting to impress followers and potential donors, circulating a photo of himself with Trump from that day.

Donald Trump with Ali Alexander at a GOP gathering. (Photo: Instagram: Ali Alexander)
Donald Trump with Ali Alexander at a GOP gathering. (Photo: Instagram: Ali Alexander)

But a senior conference official said the encounter happened in a busy holding room for VIPs where several others also interacted with Trump. “I wouldn’t doubt that the president called him Sammy Davis Jr., but nobody cleared the room for him to visit,” the conference official said.

Dirty Tricks Down South

A few months after his Trump encounter, Alexander resurfaced in Baton Rouge as a senior adviser to the Black Conservatives Fund, which received more than $150,000 that year from Mercer. As detailed by progressive journalist Lamar White Jr., the mysterious PAC had begun meddling in Louisiana politics in 2014. The group’s stated aim was to support Black Republican candidates, but it devoted considerable energy to tactics that could disenfranchise Black voters, including making baseless allegations of voter fraud.

Anita MonCrief, a driving force behind the Black Conservatives Fund, was a veteran of one of the GOP’s most notorious “voter fraud” disinformation campaigns: the fake ACORN scandal of 2008, when prominent media figures, including Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Lou Dobbs, made the community organization for lower-income families the centerpiece of a massive propaganda attack on Obama.

The campaign was supercharged by O’Keefe and Breitbart, who released “severely edited” undercover videos that created the appearance that a handful of ACORN employees were willing to aid seemingly criminal activity. Breitbart’s legion of bloggers amplified the “sting” online. Even though multiple investigations found no evidence of wrongdoing at ACORN, more than 50% of Republicans came to believe the group had stolen the election for Obama.

MonCrief, who had been fired by ACORN for using a business credit card for personal expenses, tried to feed the press smears about the group’s ties to Obama. The barrage crescendoed at the final presidential debate, when Republican candidate McCain falsely accused Obama of “maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

The ACORN campaign marked the GOP’s open embrace of white grievance politics and a venomous brand of dirty tricks tailored for a post-truth digital age. It also brought MonCrief, who did not respond to a request for comment sent to her personal email, together with O’Keefe, whose voter fraud disinformation she has promoted on Twitter. And she’d soon join forces with Alexander. In 2012, she attended his Blog Bash with O’Keefe. In Louisiana two years later, they all zeroed in on Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), a three-term incumbent entering a runoff with a strong Republican challenger in Bill Cassidy.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), GOP Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory and Ali Alexander. (Photo: Instagram: Ali Alexander)
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), GOP Louisiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory and Ali Alexander. (Photo: Instagram: Ali Alexander)

O’Keefe had gone after Landrieu before, in 2010, when he illegally entered her office with two associates, both of whom were disguised as telephone repairmen and one of whom asked to access the “central box” of the phone system as part of an attempt to “orchestrate a conversation” about phone calls to Landrieu’s staff that O’Keefe would capture on video. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge of entering federal property under false pretenses. In late 2014, O’Keefe returned to Louisiana. He was, he said, “working on a big story.” He wasn’t alone. Gavin McInnes, who two years later would found the Proud Boys, was also there, doing “undercover work” for O’Keefe. McInnes claimed to have infiltrated Landrieu campaign headquarters.

The Black Conservatives Fund soon released an undercover “sting” video that the group claimed showed the father of Landrieu’s chief of staff, a Black mayor of a small city in Louisiana, encouraging voter fraud. The speaker, who did not appear on camera, was making an obvious joke at a Landrieu event about voting twice, a harmless crack on the campaign trail. But Alexander and the Black Conservatives Fund spun it into a voter fraud conspiracy focused on the mayor. Alexander, who went by Ali Akbar at the time, and the Black Conservatives Fund emailed a press release to local journalists and political bloggers, accusing the mayor of undermining the “integrity of our voting process.”

“Immediately after” the release went out, according to a local political blogger, the Republican Party of Louisiana emailed its own statement condemning the mayor, an original copy of which HuffPost obtained. The party and Alexander appeared to be coordinating.

“The Democrat machine has once again been exposed for its efforts to mislead, cheat and steal when it comes to elections,” wrote Jeff Landry, who at the time was the head of the Republican Party of Louisiana’s “Voter Integrity Program.”

Landry, a former tea party congressman running for state attorney general, was a notable participant in the effort to smear Landrieu and a fitting person to apply the GOP’s imprimatur to voter fraud disinformation. The climate change denialist was financed by the fossil fuel industry and the Koch brothers.

Roger Villere, the chairman of Republican Party of Louisiana at the time, issued a similar condemnation a few hours later. Alexander, who had also targeted Black voters with a misleading robocall about Landrieu, posted a picture on Facebook around this time of himself with Villere in the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge. Villere and the Republican Party of Louisiana did not return requests for comment.

Three days after the sting, Alexander posted another picture ― a celebratory one on Instagram of himself with O’Keefe in Baton Rouge’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, where Cassidy would soon have his election night party after beating Landrieu.

“Provocateurs at large,” Alexander wrote.

James O'Keefe with Ali Alexander in Baton Rouge. (Photo: Instagram: Ali Alexander)
James O'Keefe with Ali Alexander in Baton Rouge. (Photo: Instagram: Ali Alexander)

In 2015, Landry won his race for Louisiana attorney general, and Alexander found work as the digital director for Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne’s gubernatorial campaign. Dardenne lost his primary, but that hardly slowed Alexander’s ascent. With his network, experience and aptitude for dirty tricks, he was well-positioned for the calamitous next phase of Republican politics.

Twitter-Enabled Authoritarianism

In 2016, Trump ushered the GOP into a new era of social media-fueled extremism. Alexander, who had already started to shed his Muslim last name, adapted quickly. He joined a ring of propagandists and white nationalists orbiting Steve Bannon, chief executive of Trump’s campaign. The Mercer-funded Milo Yiannopoulos became a friend. So did Breitbart writer Mike Mahoney, the founder of an eco-fascist organization now deemed a potential domestic terrorism threat. At some point, Alexander also fell in with Marcus Epstein, an ethno-nationalist reactionary with a violent past who collaborates closely with prominent white nationalists and has high-level Republican contacts, and Jeff Giesea, an understudy to billionaire Peter Thiel who has funded white nationalists in the past.

But his closest colleague at the time was Lucian Wintrich, who would soon become the White House correspondent for The Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump disinformation outlet that has pushed voter fraud lies, promoted Stop the Steal and published propaganda from the Oath Keepers, an anti-government militia group whose members were involved in the storming of the Capitol. (In January, an Oath Keeper and two people associated with the militia were charged with criminal conspiracy for participating in the attack.)

With Wintrich, Alexander launched a dead-end media startup and staged a pro-Trump anti-immigrant art show in New York where the British Yiannopoulos gave a speech about “American values” and bathed in a tub of pig’s blood. McInnes arrived in his gang’s black-and-yellow uniform and recruited attendees into his organization.

In 2017, Wintrich and Alexander again caught the eye of extremism researchers when they hosted a podcast with Matt Colligan, who had marched with a tiki torch at the Charlottesville rally. During the podcast, Alexander jokingly threw up a “sieg heil.” Colligan hoisted a Nazi flag behind him on screen, which prompted laughter from Alexander. When a woman who claimed to be Jewish called into the podcast to complain, Alexander mocked her.

Lucian Wintrich and Ali Alexander host alt-right member Matt Colligan on Wintrich's podcast.  (Photo: Screenshot/Periscope)
Lucian Wintrich and Ali Alexander host alt-right member Matt Colligan on Wintrich's podcast. (Photo: Screenshot/Periscope)

A month later, Alexander and Cernovich attended the wedding of neo-Nazi collaborator Posobiec, a protégé of convicted felon and Trump consigliere Roger Stone. As HuffPost first reported in December, Posobiec was also a confidant of Donald Trump Jr. Amplified heavily on Twitter by an infamous Kremlin-directed account, Posobiec has repeatedly promoted a book by Russian neo-fascist Aleksandr Dugin that lays out a plan to topple American democracy through racial tension and disinformation. In October, HuffPost emailed, called and texted Posobiec to ask about his promotion of Dugin’s book and whether he had ever “taken any money from Russia, any foreign government or a cut-out.” Posobiec did not respond.

In the summer of 2017, Alexander teamed up with the far-right propagandist to speak at a “Rally for Peace” in front of the White House that kicked off with a Trump supporter shouting, “It’s time to put George Soros in the gas chamber!” The rally, which also featured Wintrich and Cernovich, attracted a contingent of Proud Boys, one of whom gave a spit-flying speech about the media that had an audience member screaming about “communist scum!” Handling security were the 211 Bootboys, an ultranationalist skinhead crew that has engaged in gang assaults, sometimes with the Proud Boys. Stone called in over Posobiec’s phone to address the crowd.

By the end of that year, Alexander and Stone were hanging out together. The two posed for a photo at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where Alexander turned up for a quarterly meeting of the Young Republican National Federation, acting as the chairman of the organization’s Louisiana chapter. A few days later, as part of a secret retreat with top donors, the Republican Attorneys General Association booked Mar-a-Lago’s Teahouse dining room for an event that Louisiana’s Jeff Landry reportedly attended.

Ali Alexander and Roger Stone meet at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo: Instagram/Ali Alexander)
Ali Alexander and Roger Stone meet at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo: Instagram/Ali Alexander)

Alexander’s social media star was on the rise. In 2018, Kanye West promoted him on Twitter, where Alexander had taken to singling out Jewish members of the media in a way that he insisted couldn’t be anti-Semitic, given his own claims of Semitic heritage. He also tweeted what appeared to be a lynching threat at former CIA Director John Brennan, an outspoken Trump critic. Like Trump, Alexander abused Twitter blatantly. But Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey nevertheless sought out the views of the extremist influencer.

In February 2018, Alexander revealed on Instagram that he and Dorsey had been “talking for the past several months” about how people with “different beliefs” could coexist on Twitter. Alexander meant conservatives. Specifically, he meant far-right influencers like himself and Stone, who’d been booted from Twitter in 2017 for abusive and menacing tweets about CNN news anchors and contributors. Bad actors on the political right often use false claims of “conservative censorship” to pressure social media companies to take a hands-off approach to disinformation and extremism, and Alexander indicated that he brought up Stone’s suspension with Dorsey. In a Breitbart interview, Alexander claimed that he and Dorsey discussed problems “disproportionately affecting conservatives” on the platform and that the Twitter CEO “stressed that mistakes had been made and Twitter needs to serve everyone going forward.” In August 2018, Dorsey quietly sought Alexander’s advice about whether to ban bigoted far-right conspiracist Alex Jones from the site.

“I was introduced to him by a friend, and you know, he’s got interesting points,” Dorsey would later say of Alexander. “I don’t obviously agree with most. But I think the perspective is interesting.”

It’s unclear how Alexander met Dorsey, and Twitter declined to answer any of HuffPost’s questions. A year before his photo with Dorsey, however, Alexander claimed in a private meeting with White Jr., the journalist from Louisiana, that he knew influential higher-ups at the social media company. “He told me he had friends in Twitter corporate,” White told HuffPost. “He didn’t give me any specific names.”

Jack Dorsey and Ali Alexander (Photo: Instagram/Ali Alexander)
Jack Dorsey and Ali Alexander (Photo: Instagram/Ali Alexander)

Alexander’s next piece of subversion drew on Stone for inspiration. In 2016, Stone, who would carve out a role for himself that year as a backchannel for WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, a Twitter account that American intelligence investigators and cybersecurity experts had already accurately assessed was run by Russian military intelligence, had created a “Stop the Steal” slogan, fundraising website and 527 advocacy group. The apparent objective: erode voter trust in a Republican primary in which Trump looked like a long shot. Later, in a general election Trump also seemed fated to lose, Stop the Steal played up fabricated claims of a rigged election and morphed into a project to send Republicans to “monitor” polling places in communities that Democratic leaders in battleground states who sued over “voter intimidation” tactics pointed out had large populations of marginalized group.

But Stone’s effort paled in comparison to what Alexander would eventually pull off. First, though, the young Republican had to field test the idea for himself. In 2018, at Posobiec’s urging, according to Alexander, he decided to marry the Stop the Steal slogan to his own on-the-ground activism.

Alexander saw an opportunity in Florida, where a tight U.S. Senate race between Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson and the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, had gone to a mandatory recount after absentee and provisional ballots narrowed Scott’s lead. Republicans were apoplectic. Scott talked about “unethical liberals” trying to “steal this election.” Trump alleged “election fraud.” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) circulated a conspiracy theory about unmarked vehicles moving fake ballots in the dead of night.

Alexander took to the street. He gathered angry Trump supporters outside the Broward County Supervisor of Elections to protest the recount. The Proud Boys turned out. So did Stone, who’d participated in and claimed to have orchestrated a similar spectacle in 2000 ― the “Brooks Brothers riot,” during which a mob of white Republican operatives tried to force their way into Miami-Dade County polling headquarters and put a halt to the recount in that year’s presidential election.

Alexander’s far-right network also showed up. Pearson, the young conservative activist from Alexander’s past, tweeted to promote the protest and commended Posobiec, Proud Boys influencer Joe Biggs, and Republican operative Scott Presler, formerly the lead activism strategist for anti-Muslim hate group ACT for America, for “descending onto Florida.” With his logistical know-how, Presler was an important ally for Alexander. A year earlier, Presler — who, according to his Facebook, later became a regional field director for the Republican Party of Virginia had organized a nationwide “March Against Sharia” that attracted neo-Nazis, other racist extremists and anti-government groups such as the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and Proud Boys.

Alexander’s Broward County Stop the Steal event also proved irresistible to Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who appeared outside the election center to cause a ruckus and spread disinformation on Twitter about “fraudulent ballots.” Even the Republican National Committee got involved, tweeting, “We cannot let lawyers and special interests from Washington steal this election.” When Scott emerged victorious, Alexander took credit.

In early 2019, Alexander launched a MAGA influencer site, Culttture, with Trump’s favorite meme-smith, Logan “Carpe Donktum” Cook, who has glorified violence against the media. Alexander said the idea came to him after LSD “rewired” his brain. The site made an initial splash by sending Alexander, Islamophobic Republican congressional candidate Laura Loomer and far-right subversive Jacob Wohl, who was arrested last October for running a robocall scheme targeting Black voters with false election information, to Minneapolis to generate fodder for an Alexander-directed propaganda reel about Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). In Periscope videos, they falsely depicted parts of the city as being under sharia law and claimed to need a “massive” security team in order to travel safely. The best way to support them, Alexander told followers, was through “money, money, money, money, money and then prayer.”

Alexander caused another stir that year during a birther smear campaign against Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris. “She’s not an American Black. Period,” he tweeted, echoing his description of Obama a decade earlier. The racist message got a boost on Twitter from Trump Jr., who later deleted his retweet.

A month later, Alexander scored an invite to the White House for Trump’s “social media summit.” The gathering of digital extremists was a murderers’ row of pro-Trump trolls and propagandists. Alexander had finally arrived.

Ali Alexander at the White House for Trump's social media summit in 2019. (Photo: Instagram/Ali Alexander)
Ali Alexander at the White House for Trump's social media summit in 2019. (Photo: Instagram/Ali Alexander)

Alexander was also building his own coalition. In October, he traveled to the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort for the American Priority Conference, which brought together figures ranging from GOP heavyweights like Trump Jr. and Gaetz to the usual crew of henchmen: Posobiec, O’Keefe, Cook, Presler and others. In the Trump resort, Alexander gathered some of his fellow travelers for a photo-op.

These were Trump’s digital soldiers. But next to Alexander in his trademark sunglasses was a real one: Tarrio. A bullet-headed felon who’d attended the Unite the Right rally, the Cuban-American Tarrio was a street fighter who’d gone on to succeed McInnes as national chairman of the Proud Boys. Under Tarrio’s command, the neo-fascist gang has acted as a personal security force for Stone. The Proud Boys were seemingly at Alexander’s disposal as well. And the Republican operative had big plans.

“Goebbels and Lenin, smart men, evil men,” Alexander said that year. “But they have nothing on me in terms of social engineering.”

Ali Alexander with Scott Presler, Enrique Tarrio, Mike Cernovich, Logan Cook and several Stop the Steal accomplices at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort for the American Priority Conference in 2019. (Photo: Culttture.com/Ali Alexander)
Ali Alexander with Scott Presler, Enrique Tarrio, Mike Cernovich, Logan Cook and several Stop the Steal accomplices at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort for the American Priority Conference in 2019. (Photo: Culttture.com/Ali Alexander)

Stop The Steal 2020

On Sept. 7, 2020, Alexander and Posobiec primed their social media followers for a new Stop the Steal campaign. In a Periscope broadcast, Alexander declared his intention to build the digital “infrastructure” for the anti-democratic movement and talked about sending Trump supporters to election centers in case a “physical presence is needed,” according to Right Wing Watch. That same afternoon, Posobiec, who has over 1 million followers on Twitter, posted that “#StopTheSteal 2020 is coming” in a since-deleted tweet uncovered in an investigation by the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab.

As soon as it became clear on Nov. 4 that Trump would likely lose the election, Alexander swung into action on social media, claiming that his young political mentees had convinced him: “They said, ‘Ali, if you could change the world ― or save the world ― and you had that opportunity to do it, why wouldn’t you?’ And I felt this rush of conviction, you know, because I’m a Christian.”

The daughter of Amy Kremer, a tea party organizer, launched a Stop the Steal Facebook page. Posobiec and other far-right friends of Alexander promoted it. The page quickly gained over 360,000 members, some of whom talked about murdering Democrats and starting a civil war. Within days, Facebook had shut it down.

Twitter, however, permitted Alexander’s extremism, which he didn’t camouflage. He called the platform his “public diary” and his “call to action.” On Nov. 9, he tweeted, “Republicans choose who wins the Electoral College. We don’t have to lie down.” Alexander urged GOP state legislatures to “only send Republican Electors to the College,” seemingly advocating that they defy the popular vote and overturn the most secure election in American history. Mocking Alexander with the Proud Boys slogan, another Twitter user pointed out that, “Such a fascist coup would provoke a civil war. Why don’t you fuck around and find out?” Alexander retweeted the ominous prediction with his own message: “Thanks for the invite, bitch.”

Several other Twitter users, presumably followers of Alexander, replied to the message with what appeared to be endorsements of insurrection and civil war. One promoted a logo of Anticom, a far-right group whose members espouse fascism and guerrilla warfare against the political left and have shared detailed bomb-making instructions online.

For the next two months, Dorsey and Twitter executives did next to nothing to prevent Alexander from growing his movement on their platform, aside from temporarily blocking the link to his Stop the Steal website. But that didn’t last long, according to Alexander.

“I used my relationships with Twitter to get that reversed,” he told the Epoch Times, a far-right conspiracy and propaganda outlet that promoted Stop the Steal and false claims of voter fraud. (Twitter declined to respond.)

Stop the Steal was scary from the start. The first rally took place on Nov. 4 in Phoenix outside the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office. Alexander organized the event on Twitter with Gosar, who has been photographed with Proud Boys and reportedly attended Oath Keepers meetings, and Cernovich, who has for many years used Twitter to sow disinformation that has inspired threats and violence. Gosar would later acknowledge Cernovich’s seminal role in launching Stop the Steal, comparing the far-right propagandist to Rosa Parks.

In November, Gosar ― “the spirit animal of Stop the Steal,” according to Alexander ― did not respond to a request from HuffPost seeking information about his involvement in the protest movement and his connections to extremists. Later that month, the leader of an Arizona chapter of the Oath Keepers claimed in a video that Gosar had met with his group “a couple of years ago” and told them he believed the United States had already entered another civil war. “We just haven’t started shooting yet,” Gosar reportedly said.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) objects to certifying Arizona's Electoral College votes on Jan. 6.  (Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) objects to certifying Arizona's Electoral College votes on Jan. 6. (Photo: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In March, HuffPost reached out again to Gosar’s digital director, Jessica Lycos, who appears to double as a press secretary, to inquire one more time about the radical congressman’s troubling associations. (Gosar also met privately in 2018 with Steve Bannon and foreign ultranationalist leaders, including racists and Islamophobes with ties to violent extremists.) Lycos replied with an email that she tried to put off-the-record.

“Sounds like your story is already completely written. What do you need me for?” Lycos wrote. “Rep. Gosar is of course none of those things but you’re not interested in hearing that. Good luck!”

HuffPost requested a third time to speak to Gosar and asked Lycos to clarify what she meant by “none of those things.” She did not respond.

At the Phoenix rally, Cernovich and Gosar gave speeches to a large, angry crowd similar to the mob that rioted in Washington in early January. It was a mix of MAGA extremists, armed militia members and QAnon believers. They chanted “stop the steal.” They threatened reporters. The protesters grew so hostile that election workers needed a police escort to their cars at the end of the night. At one point, militia members barged into the elections center. No arrests were made.

Alexander recruited hundreds of protesters on Twitter within minutes of launching Stop the Steal, but the Phoenix rally also showed signs of more advanced planning and financial backing.

“This wasn’t just a grassroots swelling of citizens,” local attorney Tom Ryan, who specializes in election law, told HuffPost. “These people had pre-manufactured signs.”

A second night of protest in Phoenix summoned Jones, who Alexander tweeted was “getting a jet.” Jones, known for spreading lies that led to death threats against the parents of children murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, showed up to bellow to the mob about the coming war against Trump’s opponents. “They will be in their goddamn bunkers when we come for them!” he shouted. “They will be hiding. They will pay. They will be destroyed.”

Jacob Chansley, known as the “Q Shaman” for his horned fur hat and Norse tattoos, was at that rally. Though reportedly jobless, Chansley nevertheless found the means to travel to Washington in January. He stormed the Capitol with a spear, tracing a throughline of violence back to Stop the Steal’s genesis.

A third night of protest in Phoenix featured Trump family insider and Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk. On Nov. 4, he was one of the first people to promote the rally, using slick material branded with his affiliate’s name, Turning Point Action. The affiliate reportedly paid a sprawling network of teenagers, including some minors, to pump out disinformation, much of it about voter fraud.

At a Nov. 18 Stop the Steal event in Atlanta, Alexander appeared with Fuentes, Jones and Tarrio outside the Georgia State Capitol, along with a mob of Trump supporters.

“Who is going to be ready to storm the Capitol with us in a couple minutes?!” Alexander shouted through a megaphone.

“Peacefully,” Jones reminded Alexander.

“Peacefully,” Alexander snickered. “Do not let antifa infiltrate.”

Nick Fuentes, Ali Alexander and Alex Jones rile up a crowd of Stop the Steal protesters in Atlanta on Nov. 18, 2020. (Photo: Screengrab/Twitter)
Nick Fuentes, Ali Alexander and Alex Jones rile up a crowd of Stop the Steal protesters in Atlanta on Nov. 18, 2020. (Photo: Screengrab/Twitter)

Once inside the building, some Trump supporters didn’t want to leave, figuring they could shut down the certification of the Georgia vote. Biden had won the state by a slim enough margin to trigger a hand audit of the results, which was underway at the time of the rally. The certification deadline was two days away. One Trumpist, who understandably viewed Jones as the leader of the group, approached wide-eyed with an idea.

“They certify the vote here, right?” said the man, who wore a stars-and-stripes cowboy hat.

“Yeah,” Jones grunted.

“We’re inside,” the man told Jones. “Let’s not leave!”

Oddly deferential, Jones turned to Alexander.

“We’re not the left, we’re not going to democratize ideas,” Alexander snapped at the man. “Listen to me, we’re going to stop the steal. But first we’re going to stop the certification.”

It was too soon. Too small. Too few people.

A Growing Insurrection

Alexander kept organizing at a feverish pace. He put together numerous events in other states, many of which attracted extremists and militia members. He tapped into his network for help, including Kremer, who now runs Women for America First, an organization created to oppose Trump’s impeachment. Jenny Beth Martin, the co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, an influential dark money conduit for the GOP that Alexander’s Blog Bash site listed as a sponsor, co-host and supporter of the event over the course of several years, had signed on early and was speaking at Stop the Steal rallies. Prominent conservative pundit Michelle Malkin, who’d been on the board of Alexander’s National Bloggers Club, got involved, enthusiastically spreading Stop the Steal propaganda and speaking at at least one rally.

Malkin already had well-documented connections to the white supremacist movement. In early 2020, American Renaissance, a prominent white supremacist publication, began syndicating Malkin’s columns. She endorsed Patrick Casey, the leader of American Identity Movement, a now-defunct neo-Nazi and white nationalist organization, and Fuentes, as well as other far-right extremists who have routinely expressed anti-Semitic and white nationalist views. She spoke at Fuentes’ 2020 America First Political Action Conference. Afterward, she went on “Red Ice,” a white power radio show, to warn of changing demographics and “multicultural rot.” She didn’t stop there. She created a reading list with Yiannopoulos for “America First” activists that included towering anti-Semitic texts such as “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and “Culture of Critique” by Kevin MacDonald, who has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as the “neo-Nazi movement’s favorite academic.”

By the time Alexander’s Stop the Steal movement surged to life, Malkin, who refers to herself as the “mommy” to Fuentes’ “groyper” followers and regularly socializes with fascists, had, by any definition, embraced far-right extremism. She was a big name, with a big platform.

But it was the junior influencers who helped Alexander with local Stop the Steal promotion and organizing. One of them, Michael “Mike Tokes” Coudrey, emerged as a key lieutenant.

“There would be no #StopTheSteal movement without @MichaelCoudrey,” Alexander tweeted the day before the Capitol attack.

Like Alexander, Coudrey had had legal problems, beginning when he was a minor. As an adult, he was arrested in 2017 on a felony charge of obtaining property under false pretenses after allegedly lying on a credit application at a used car dealership in Las Vegas so he could purchase a 2008 Dodge Caravan with a small down payment. Coudrey entered a nolo contendere plea to a reduced charge of petit larceny in 2019. By then, he was reinventing himself as a pro-Trump social media performer. Trump retweeted Coudrey last year after he pushed hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 cure.

White nationalist Bryden Proctor, Stop the Steal organizer Mike Coudrey and white nationalist Tim Gionet. (Photo: Screengrab)
White nationalist Bryden Proctor, Stop the Steal organizer Mike Coudrey and white nationalist Tim Gionet. (Photo: Screengrab)

Last year, Andy Stepanian, an activist and communications consultant for nonprofits, revealed that Coudrey, who did not respond to requests for comment, was apparently running a private Twitter group in 2019 and beyond that appeared to include multiple far-right activists who would go on to be Stop the Steal co-organizers. Several Trump insiders also appeared to be part of the group, including Richard Grenell, Trump’s then-acting director of national intelligence who spread baseless claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.

“Does the Huffington Post still exist?” Grenell asked when HuffPost reached him for comment.

Yet another important colleague of Alexander’s was Ed Martin, the former chairman of the Missouri Republican Party, who appears friendly with Mike Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser who pleaded guilty twice to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. Martin, who has expressed support for QAnon, handled Stop the Steal organizing in Washington. The day before the attack, he tweeted a photo of himself with Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). They were smiling and holding a “Stop the Steal” sign.

Martin and Alexander had joined forces before, in 2014, on behalf of Chris McDaniel, a tea party candidate for Senate in Mississippi with a history of making inflammatory remarks about women and minorities and whose talk-radio show website promoted the League of the South, a violent neo-Confederate organization. A strategist for McDaniel told CNN in 2018 that the politician “has never endorsed the League of the South and has nothing to do with them.” But McDaniel, who reportedly delivered the keynote address at a 2013 event staged by a chapter of another neo-Confederate group, had accepted donations from a League of the South member, the attorney for an imperial wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who died in prison after murdering a civil rights activist. When McDaniel lost in the Republican primary, he falsely claimed the election was stolen. So did Ted Cruz.

Alexander had two Stop the Steal trial runs in Washington before the Capitol attack. On Nov. 14, he staged the “Million MAGA March,” promotional material for which had spread widely among violent extremist groups. During the election, Trump had refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power and instead issued a “stand back and stand by” directive to the Proud Boys. “Somebody’s gotta do something about antifa and the left,” the president said, using language that thrummed the blood of far-right extremists.

“Trump basically said to go fuck them up! [T]his makes me so happy,” wrote Joe Biggs, a high-ranking Proud Boy who was connected to Alexander on Venmo, a money-sharing app that creates public friends lists of users who have communicated via phone.

“[T]here are not enough jail cells to house everybody that is coming,” Alexander said in a Periscope broadcast, Right Wing Watch first reported.

On the appointed day, thousands of Trump supporters poured into D.C., including several battalions of Proud Boys, some of whom wore bulletproof vests. Before the rally, Biggs, who was arrested last month for storming the Capitol, told his followers to “buy ammo [and] clean your guns.”

Other groups such as Oath Keepers, Patriot Prayer and American Guard also showed up, and when night fell, the far-right extremists mixed it up with counterprotesters. People were stabbed. Police recovered guns. But it was the number of Trump blackshirts in the streets that was so shocking. Hundreds upon hundreds of them. CJ Halliburton, an independent journalist who livestreams protests, filmed Alexander that night in their midst, smoking a celebratory cigar and sharing a toast with Tarrio.

Ali Alexander and Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio toast in November 2020, after a Stop the Steal rally in Washington. (Photo: <a href="https://www.cjtv.live/" target="_blank">CJ Halliburton</a>)
Ali Alexander and Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio toast in November 2020, after a Stop the Steal rally in Washington. (Photo: CJ Halliburton)

Alexander spoke of “political revenge” and only grew more bellicose as insurrection approached. “I am willing to give my life for this fight,” he tweeted on Dec. 7, a message the Arizona Republican Party amplified on Twitter a few hours later. “He is. Are you?” the party asked.

Kelli Ward, the chair of the Arizona Republican Party, went on to speak at one of Alexander’s Stop the Steal rallies. Ward, who has a history of associating with other extremists and has also been funded by the Mercers, wanted to “cross the Rubicon.” She later refused to condemn the attack on the Capitol.

Alexander’s next Stop the Steal event in Washington took place on Dec. 12. Far-right extremists such as Daily Stormer publisher Andrew Anglin — who urged his neo-Nazi followers to “Get out in the street. No Surrender.” — promoted it. Flynn spoke at a portion of the rally called the “Jericho March,” which had a website stating “globalists, socialists, and communists” were trying to “destroy” America through “fraudulent and illegal activities in this election.”

The Jericho March, as Flynn made clear in his speech, referenced a biblical battle during which Israelite soldiers marched around the Canaanite city of Jericho and blew trumpets until the city walls collapsed. The Israelites then stormed inside and massacred every living creature except a treasonous prostitute and her family. In the MAGA rendition of the tale, Congress was Jericho.

“We’re in a spiritual battle for the heart and soul of the country,” Flynn said, a flag of the anti-government Three Percenter militia flapping in front of him as, overhead, Trump buzzed the crowd in Marine One. “We’re going to knock those walls down.”

The rally attracted thousands more Trump supporters and resulted in more Proud Boys-led violence. Gang members marched in formation through downtown D.C. The Proud Boys reportedly assaulted passersby. They targeted Black churches and vandalized their property. Alexander began tweeting about 1776, a reference to the American Revolution.

On Dec. 29, Alexander appeared on Sean Hannity’s podcast to promote the upcoming Wild Protest. Conservative commentator Rose Tennent, who is affiliated with Moms for America, another organization involved in the Jan. 6 rally, was the guest host. “We can’t let it be said of us that we stood by and did nothing,” she said. “This is a hill we are willing to die on.”

The Wild Protest had come together, Alexander told her, with the “collaboration” of his Republican allies in Congress: Gosar, Mo Brooks and Andy Biggs, all of whom would object to certifying the Electoral College vote affirming Biden’s win. Brooks later denied that he had helped Alexander organize a rally, and he issued a statement saying he had “no recollection of ever communicating in any way with whoever Ali Alexander is.” But Brooks was featured on the Wild Protest website and, as a speaker at the Ellipse on Jan. 6, urged angry protesters to sacrifice their lives if necessary.

“Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?!” he shouted.

Biggs, too, tried to distance himself from Alexander after the deadly attack. “Congressman Biggs is not aware of hearing of or meeting Mr. Alexander at any point — let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest,” Biggs’ spokesman told The Washington Post. On Dec. 13, however, Biggs and Alexander had appeared together as speakers at a small Moms for America rally in Washington. On Dec. 19, Alexander played a video message from Biggs during a Stop the Steal rally in Phoenix, at which Alexander and Biggs’ wife hugged.

During his appearance on Hannity’s podcast, Alexander was adamant that the three congressmen helped him conceive of his protest, an assertion he echoed on social media.

“They were like, ‘Ali, bring your people, we’ve had these rallies all across the country, two times in DC,’” he told Tennent. “They were like, ‘Bring those patriots here. Let our colleagues hear them outside before they vote.’”

Alexander tweeted a translation for his “people” the next day: “1776 is *always* an option,” he wrote, warning that if lawmakers certified the Electoral College vote, “everyone can guess what me and 500,000 others will do to that building.”

A Powerful Republican Ally

On Jan. 5, Proud Boys and other extremists, including white supremacists on the FBI’s terrorist watchlist, flooded into Washington. Stone was spotted with an Oath Keepers security detail. That morning, Alexander tweeted that he was considering issuing an order to supporters to “occupy DC” until a “negotiated settlement” could be reached. “Stand back & stand by!” he tweeted.

A robocall went out that day encouraging “patriots” to march to the Capitol at 1 p.m. the following afternoon to “stop the steal.” The recording, unearthed by the watchdog group Documented, was paid for by the Rule of Law Defense Fund, a fundraising arm of the Republican Attorneys General Association.

RAGA, a national organization for Republican state attorneys general, is financed by big corporations and Republican megadonors, none more significant than Koch Industries, which in 2020 gave the group $375,000, according to IRS 527 filings reviewed by Documented. As a 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization, RLDF can hide its donors. But it, too, is funded by Koch-backed organizations and other right-wing dark money groups. One of these donors demanded that the “March to Save America” robocall go out and made a contribution “contingent” upon its release, according to The New York Times.

In the months leading up to the Capitol attack, RAGA had also put out a series of propaganda videos that demonized racial justice protesters and liberals. One video used Soviet-style imagery to portray Democratic leaders in Congress as communist subversives. In official statements, RAGA said the political left was on a “mission to burn America down” and that a Biden-Harris administration would “destroythe country. “JOIN THE FIGHT!” urged the Republican attorneys general.

It was, perhaps, no coincidence that the RAGA chairman in 2020 was Landry, the tea partier whose connection to Alexander went back at least to 2014, and the Black Conservative Fund’s “sting” on Mary Landrieu.

The two appeared to have stayed in touch. When Ken Paxton, the Republican attorney general of Texas, sued on Dec. 8 to block battleground states won by Biden from submitting their Electoral College votes, Alexander tweeted that “Some of us are hard at work behind the scenes too.” He mentioned only one name.

“I just thanked my friend @jefflandry,” he tweeted, using Landry’s personal Twitter handle.

Alexander seemed to have inside knowledge of RAGA’s plans. He noted that no “procedural vehicle” existed yet for other states to join Paxton’s suit but that an amicus brief was on its way. Sure enough, Landry and 16 other Republican attorneys general filed the brief on Dec. 9 in support of Paxton’s sham lawsuit. A day later, Landry signed on to the lawsuit in a motion to intervene that misspelled his own state’s name.

Landry shared some of Alexander’s extreme views. In RAGA statements and op-eds, the Louisiana attorney general warned of a “radical takeover” by Biden and Harris ― RAGA’s race-baiting propaganda focused heavily on America’s first Black, Asian and female vice president ― that would leave the nation “lawless, socialist, and jobless.” Landry wrote about “charging to the frontlines in order to save and defend America.”

Landry declined to answer any questions about his connection to Alexander. His spokesman, Cory Dennis, emailed HuffPost a one-line response: “The [Louisiana] Attorney General had no prior knowledge of, nor participated in, the robo call’s planning or execution.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry at a Jan. 22, 2020, news conference where it was announced that Republican attorneys general from 21 states submitted a letter to the Senate to reject the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.  (Photo: Cliff Owen/ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry at a Jan. 22, 2020, news conference where it was announced that Republican attorneys general from 21 states submitted a letter to the Senate to reject the two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Photo: Cliff Owen/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

But RLDF’s involvement in the violent Jan. 6 protest was undeniable. The robocall mentioned a “March to Save America” website that Alexander highlighted in his Twitter profile and that listed 11 participating organizations. Three tied directly to Alexander: Stop the Steal, Wild Protest and the Black Conservatives Fund. The rest belonged to his partners. RAGA was the most troubling participant ― originally listed on the site before the more obscure RLDF was swapped in.

RAGA’s executive director at the time, Adam Piper, appears to have been acquainted with Alexander for more than a decade. Piper’s Twitter timeline, which is filled with years of anti-Obama rhetoric, shows him replying casually to Alexander and promoting the Republican operative’s account from 2009 to 2020. They both attended CPAC in 2009, when Alexander was making a name for himself as a tea party activist, and perhaps met there. Starting in early 2009, Piper also tweeted rabidly using #tcot, a tea party hashtag that allowed the nativist movement to organize and propagandize on Twitter, a precursor to the authoritarian MAGA network that coalesced around Trump on the platform in 2016.

At RAGA, Piper issued his own incendiary statements. On Election Day, he promised that a failure to thwart Biden and Harris would result in “complete annihilation.” In a press release two weeks later, he relied on selectively edited video of a street fight during Alexander’s November rally in Washington to suggest that “antifa” would run the United States if Harris and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer were allowed to take control of the Senate.

Piper, who did not respond to requests for comment, also “spearheaded” RLDF. After the revelation of the robocall, he insisted that RLDF and RAGA had “no involvement in the planning, sponsoring, or the organization” of the Jan. 6 rally. Five days later, he resigned without explanation.

Prior to the rally, Alexander had been in direct contact with Trump insider Caroline Wren, a top Republican fundraiser and former deputy to Kimberly Guilfoyle, Trump Jr.’s girlfriend and the former national chair of Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee for Trump’s reelection campaign. Wren had previously served as the national finance director of Trump Victory and the finance director for Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.). She had access to a deep pool of Republican dark money, bushels of which had flowed to hard-right candidates and organizations. To cite one example, Citizens for a Working America, a mysterious PAC, had paid Wren’s fundraising business handsomely in the past and, in 2012, spent almost $165,000 on behalf of Landry’s unsuccessful House reelection effort. In fiscal year 2018, the same PAC gave $930,000 to RAGA.

Wren “played a central role in bringing together the disparate group of activists planning events on Jan. 6,” according to The Wall Street Journal. She reportedly even suggested to Alexander that he reschedule his Wild Protest at the Capitol for 1 p.m. When contacted by HuffPost on Feb. 27, Wren requested that questions be emailed to her. She never responded to them.

In an appearance on Alex Jones’ show, however, Alexander offered a narrative about how the Jan. 6 megarally came together that supported The Wall Street Journal’s account.

“We were going to start at 9 or 10 a.m., and we were going to have 30 members of Congress with us. When the Trump campaign called and said, ‘Let’s combine all the events,’” Alexander said on the show. “They were like, ‘The president doesn’t want to stomp on your grassroots effort. What can we do for you?’”

On the morning of the insurrection, Alexander went on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily show to promote his Wild Protest one last time. The guest host that day was his Stop the Steal partner, Ed Martin. Alexander told Martin about another, more recent, call he said he’d received from the Trump inner circle.

“[Trump]’s in fighter mode, and today will determine which Republicans are going to suffer his wrath going forward,” Alexander explained. “I got a call last night from Kimberly Guilfoyle, and none of us are stopping. I know you’re not stopping, Ed. I’m not stopping. StoptheSteal.us is not stopping. The family is not stopping.”

Guilfoyle did not respond to a request for comment left via a cellphone linked to her name, or to questions HuffPost emailed to her through Alexandra Preate, a public relations executive and longtime friend who has also served as Steve Bannon’s spokeswoman.

The Aftermath

After the Capitol riot, the Stop the Steal team came undone. Martin, Posobiec and Gaetz spread disinformation about antifa causing the violence. Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar reportedly solicited preemptive presidential pardons. Charlie Kirk, who’d talked about “building up the infantry” and bringing in 80 busloads of protesters to “fight for this president,” held an excuse-laden press conference, his voice cracking. Numerous members of the Proud Boys were arrested, and the neo-fascist gang landed on Canada’s list of designated terrorist entities.

Alexander’s movement had helped upend the peaceful transfer of power for the first time since the Civil War. He reportedly went into hiding, claiming antifa was after him. Tech companies had finally started to deplatform him, which he likened to dying. “They got this close to having Ali Alexander commit suicide,” he said. But he managed to keep squeezing out livestreams. Four days after the insurrection, he broadcast from inside a vehicle rolling through the dark toward an undisclosed location. The next day, wearing the same clothes, he streamed from inside a building. He was the true victim here, he insisted. He compared himself to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. He compared himself to Jesus Christ.

“I had to be crucified from social media in order for social media to end,” he said. “And I will fucking end social media.”

Alexander barely acknowledged the Trump supporters who died in the Capitol attack. His soliloquies focused on him, his plight, his need for money. He claimed his life was in danger and that he required funds to pay his security team ― the same apparent ruse he’d used with Loomer and Wohl in Minneapolis. Over and over, he promoted his page on GiveSendGo.com, a Christian crowdfunding platform used by many far-right extremists. At first, Alexander wanted $40,000. The next day, he demanded $100,000, so he could “open Pandora’s box.” If he didn’t get the money, he said, “we’ll all die.” (He raised over $30,000 on GiveSendGo.)

Ali Alexander fled Washington, D.C,. after the deadly attack on the Capitol in January. (Photo: Ali Alexander/Periscope)
Ali Alexander fled Washington, D.C,. after the deadly attack on the Capitol in January. (Photo: Ali Alexander/Periscope)

When HuffPost contacted Alexander on Jan. 19 with an interview request, he refused to talk and accused this reporter of stalking, harassing and bullying him. “Find God,” he said. “God bless.”

A few hours later, he posted a new video on his Stop the Steal site asking for money. “Stop the Steal will not stop!” he vowed on Gab, a social media network favored by neo-Nazis.

Alexander had more rallies planned for March. He was targeting indoor venues in Michigan, Arizona, Georgia and Texas. He talked about creating a new society exclusively for Trump supporters, about building MAGA megacities in the U.S. and South America, places where liberals would not be welcome. He wanted to “make lists” of his enemies. The only outcome left, he said, was “Civil War.”

“I’ve been licking my wounds but I’ve been plotting. I’ve been planning. I’ve been scheming,” Alexander told his followers. “Because we have to do away with this whole system.”

He craved revenge.

“The government outta be deathly afraid of us,” he said. “When I am ready … I will unleash a legion of angels to bring hell to our enemies. So rest assured in this, you know, the Lord says vengeance is his. And I pray that I am the tool to stab these motherfuckers.”

Fifteen years of activism ― of radicalization ― had honed him into a weapon. He was still a party man. It just happened to be Trump’s party now.

This piece has been updated to provide further clarity about O’Keefe’s illegal entry into Sen. Landrieu’s office in 2010.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.