Former Trump Campaign Staffers Helped Organize the Rally That Led to the Deadly Capitol Riot, Records Show, Despite the Campaign's Repeated Claims It Wasn't Involved
- Some former staffers on President Donald Trump's reelection campaign helped secure the permit for the January 6 rally that preceded the deadly Capitol riot, according to public records.
- The Trump campaign has repeatedly denied being directly involved in the organization of the rally.
- According to the Associated Press, among those listed as organizers on official paperwork for the rally are former campaign staffers Megan Powers, Caroline Wren, Maggie Mulvaney, Justin Caporale, and Tim Unes.
- Some of those former staffers scrambled to hide their connections to the rally after it took place, the AP added.
President Donald Trump's reelection campaign has repeatedly said it wasn't involved in organizing the January 6 rally that led to the deadly storming of the Capitol.
But a review of the official paperwork by the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and ABC News, shows that former Trump campaign staffers helped secure the permit for the "Save America" rally and were listed as official event organizers.
At this event Trump had addressed his supporters, telling them to "fight like hell."
The "Women for Trump" group, which is not officially connected to the campaign, technically hosted the event.
But paperwork reviewed by the AP shows that several former Trump campaign staffers helped the group get the permit to hold the rally at the Ellipse, a park near the White House.
Several of these former campaign and White House staffers were also listed on this paperwork as being on-site staff during the event, including:
- Megan Powers, who according to the AP was listed as one of two operations managers for the rally. Her LinkedIn profile says she worked as the Trump campaign's director of operations as recently as this month.
- Caroline Wren, who was listed as a VIP advisor on the rally's permit paperwork, according to the AP. Federal Election Commission records show she was paid $20,000 by Trump's reelection campaign between mid-March and mid-November. The AP also found that Wren deleted several tweets about the rally after the riot.
- Maggie Mulvaney was listed as a VIP lead for the rally, according to the AP. Mulvaney, the niece of former White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — who quit his role as a US envoy to Northern Ireland, citing the Capitol riot — worked as the director of finance operations for the Trump campaign, according to her LinkedIn profile.
- Justin Caporale, a former top aide to first lady Melania Trump, was listed as the event's project manager, the AP reports. FEC filings show he was on the Trump campaign payroll for most of 2020.
- Tim Unes, Caporale's business partner at Event Strategies, was listed as the rally's stage manager, according to the AP. According to an Insider review of FEC filings, Unes has regularly been paid by the Trump campaign, his most recent payment being for more than $6,000 in November.
- Hannah Salem, who spent three years as a senior White House press aide, according to her LinkedIn profile, was the rally's "operations manager for logistics and communications," according to the AP.
None of the above responded to the AP's request for comment, and many blocked an AP reporter who reached out to them on Twitter. Insider contacted the listed former Trump associates for comment on Monday morning, but did not immediately receive a response.
In a statement to the AP and ABC News, the Trump campaign said it "did not organize, operate or finance the event" and that no campaign staff members were involved in the organization or operation of the rally.
It said that if any former employees or independent contractors helped organize the event," they did not do so at the direction of the Trump campaign."
The Washington Post also reported that several established Republican groups were involved in the rallies that led to the riot, and have since tried to distance themselves from the violence. The groups include the Republican Attorneys General Association, and the activist groups Turning Point Action and Tea Party Patriots.
Trump was impeached for a historic second time last week for his role in inciting the rally to march to the Capitol, where the pro-Trump supporters turned violent, stormed the building, and sent lawmakers rushing to safety. A total of five people died as a result of the riot.
[Ashley Collman is a senior news reporter at Business Insider. Before joining BI, she worked as a general assignment reporter at DailyMail.com, where she focused on breaking news across the US. Ashley is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she earned a degree in magazine journalism. She can be contacted at email@example.com.]