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House investigators target the money trail behind January 6 rally

By Jamie Gangel, Whitney Wild, Zachary Cohen, Ryan Nobles and Kristen Holmes, CNN

The House select committee is setting its sights on the financing behind events and people associated with January 6, CNN has learned, including money that funded pro-Trump “Stop the Steal” rallies that preceded the attack on the Capitol that day, in an effort to determine whether any election law violations or financial crimes took place.

The Democratic-led panel is focused in part on understanding how event organizers and vendors were paid, and how the two rallies were funded, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation, including some who have been interviewed by the committee. Investigators also want to know if any funding came from domestic extremists or foreign sources, sources say.

As the committee moves forward with its sweeping probe of January 6, among the many new details CNN has learned is that the committee has divided its work into at least five investigative teams, each with their own color designation.

The ‘green’ team, for example, is tasked with tracking money, including the funding behind the rallies, as well as untangling the complex web of financial ties between rally organizers and entities affiliated with former President Donald Trump or his campaign, according to multiple sources.

Some of the other teams such as the “red” “blue” and “gold” teams are examining everything from the motivation of participants, whether there was coordination between groups, and whether Trump used his executive authority to pressure lawmakers, former Vice President Mike Pence and the Justice Department, according to the sources familiar with the committee’s work.

“As Rep. Liz Cheney said the other night, it’s very likely that Trump was personally involved in the planning and execution of January 6 and these money trails can help adduce additional proof of that,” CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen said. Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, is vice chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.

“They are one of the most valuable avenues of investigation,” Eisen added.

The committee also is looking into the readiness of law enforcement and the use of intelligence in preparing for January 6, sources told CNN.

Following the money

The panel has already interviewed several individuals involved with the rallies, according to multiple sources who participated in the discussions.

“There was a lot of money raised and a lot of money given, millions of dollars … to pay for the buses and the hotels and the meals and the accommodation,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat on the select committee, told CNN this week. “A lot of the staffing of it came from people who used to work for Donald Trump on his campaign and then just went over to work on the rally stuff, so we’re gonna get to the bottom of that stuff.”

The undertaking is part of an ambitious investigation by the committee which, Raskin said Thursday, intends to create a “comprehensive inventory of everything that took place” that day. But unraveling finances is a complicated effort, especially with limits to the information the committee can access without subpoena fights and pressure to produce results before the mid-term election next year.

The panel has already hired additional staff, including experienced financial investigators, who are solely focused on this issue.

Among the new staffers brought on by the committee is Amanda Wick, a seasoned attorney and investigator who specializes in financial cases, according to two sources familiar with the move. “By reputation, Wick is an outstanding and very experienced litigator who understands financial evidence and the investigative pathways,” Eisen said, noting she has previously worked on asset forfeiture issues and was a long-time trial attorney at DOJ.

Wick’s hiring is a sign the committee is looking deeply at the financial issues, he told CNN. It also raises the question of whether the panel may ultimately make referrals on financial crimes if warranted, Eisen said.

Subpoenas to rally organizers

Last month, the House committee issued 11 subpoenas to the organizers of the two pro-Trump rallies on January 5 and 6 that preceded the violent events at the Capitol. Investigators appear keenly interested in the official event on the Ellipse when Trump urged the crowd to show strength and march to the Capitol, including information on how involved Trump and the White House were in the planning of the rally.

For example, the committee’s subpoena to Trump ally Steve Bannon requests all records related to the financing of the January 6 rally on the National Mall and Capitol grounds. That includes “documents or other materials related to the financing or fundraising to assist any individual or organization’s travel to or accommodation in Washington, D.C., to attend or participate in the January 6, 2021 rally,” the subpoena says.

Records reviewed by CNN show the committee has asked for specific financial records, including any that identify funding for the rally, travel and accommodations.

The committee is also looking into organizers with “Women for America First,” which helped with the Ellipse event, including Amy Kremer and Caroline Wren.

Wren was a major fundraiser for the Trump campaign and multiple sources interviewed by the committee said investigators are interested in her role fundraising for the rally and the source of those funds. Wren has been subpoenaed by the committee, which notes she was a “VIP advisor” to the rally. CNN has not been able to reach Wren or Kremer for comment.

“Caroline Wren received tens of thousands of dollars as a consultant for the Trump campaign and the RNC joint fundraising committee,” Eisen told CNN, noting she is just one of several individuals whose financials could shed light on the degree of connection between the former President and the January 6 rally.

One source said the committee’s investigation has included questions about security forces at the rallies and those associated with high-profile guests such as Roger Stone.

Court records show prosecutors accused two members of far-right extremist group the Oath Keepers of text messaging about providing security to Stone. An Oath Keeper who appeared to be providing security for Stone on January 6 later joined an angry mob outside the Capitol, according to video and images reviewed by CNN and four sources who confirmed his identity.

The source also said the committee asked about the 1st Amendment Praetorian group, a right-wing organization of military veterans and law enforcement that was listed as an unarmed security provider at the Freedom Plaza pro-Trump rally the night before the attack.

Documents released by the committee also show there are outstanding questions about permits secured for the Capitol Complex grounds. Subpoenas for both Ali Alexander and Nathan Martin suggest the committee believes the two were behind permitted events on the capitol grounds.

The public portion of Alexander’s subpoena reveals the committee is concerned he wasn’t entirely honest when organizing a permitted rally on Capitol grounds.

“According to documents provided to the Select Committee, a purported organization named ‘One Nation Under God’ submitted a permit application on or about December 21, 2020, to the United States Capitol Police (‘USCP’) for a rally to be held on the U.S. Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, about ‘the election fraud in the swing states,'” the subpoena says.

The document goes on to say a vendor listed on the permit application informed the Capitol Police that he was reporting to Alexander and another person, Nathan Martin, and told officials both Alexander and Martin were “with Stop the Steal” or STS. The subpoena claims Stop the Steal “advertised the Capitol rally event on at least two of its websites” and solicited donations “to offset expenses for January 6th,” according to the subpoena.

“However, the permit application did not disclose any connection between STS and the Capitol rally event,” the subpoena says.

Nathan Martin declined a request to comment. CNN could not reach Ali Alexander.

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CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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