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Republican Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks has denied reports that he participated in the planning of the 6 January rally-turned-riot at the US Capitol – but also said he would be “proud” if his staffers had helped.
Mr Brooks’ comments come after a devastating report by Rolling Stone alleged that right-wing lawmakers and White House staff helped to organise the events of 6 January in advance, meeting with grassroots planners who helped bring rioters to the building to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
Citing two sources who are apparently communicating with the select committee investigating the insurrection, the magazine claims that Mr Brooks was one of several House members to meet with the organisers. Also mentioned are some of the most ardent right-wingers in the GOP caucus: Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar, Lauren Boebert, Madison Cawthorn, Andy Biggs and Louie Gohmert. Several have already denied the reports.
Mr Brooks, who infamously spoke at Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally at the White House just before the Capitol attack began, told home-state news outlet AL.com that he did not in fact plan to take any role in the events of that day, including his participation in the Trump rally.
“I had no intentions of going to that rally until 5 January, when the White House asked me to speak,” he told the outlet. He did not deny that his staff had any part in helping to plan the rally and subsequent events, but said he could not say one way or the other – and that “Quite frankly, I’d be proud of them if they did help organise a First Amendment rally to protest voter fraud and election theft.”
Mr Brooks, who wore body armour during his speech at the White House rally, has repeatedly insisted that “massive fraud” was used to throw the presidency to Joe Biden. He has been sued by Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell for his alleged part in inciting the riot.
Among the other representatives named by Rolling Stone, Lauren Boebert has come in for particular criticism in the last months, not least thanks to a tweet she sent on 6 January reading “This is 1776”. Paul Gosar too is under intense scrutiny over his association with far-right racist groups and individuals; earlier this year, he described the rioters who attacked the Capitol as “peaceful patriots” and claimed that Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter shot by a Capitol Police officer, was “executed”.