On September 16, an ex-Trump campaign staffer turned hard-right conspiracy peddler will be leading a new pro-Trump rally on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The goal of the rally? To demand "justice" for the violent January 6 insurrectionists who are now facing prison time for the riot that left multiple people dead while insurrectionist leaders combed through the building looking for then-vice president Mike Pence and other political figures Trump had singled out for personal condemnation.
2016 Trump campaign data guy Matt Braynard, head of "Look Ahead America," took to unrepentant fascist huckster Steve Bannon's show earlier this month to promote the event. The intent is to portray the insurrectionists (who, again, are currently under arrest) as American heroes facing terribly unfair treatment in the same American jail cells that Trump's base demanded the nation throw Hillary Clinton—or Joe Biden or Hunter Biden or other spur-of-the-moment Trump enemies—into during Trump's weird-smelling campaign rallies.
What will actually happen once that September 16 date rolls around isn't clear. "Look Ahead America" is a minor group in fascist—sorry, I mean Republican—circles, and even with Bannon's help, it's not clear how many (non-indicted, not-in-jail) bodies they can summon for a repeat performance of the January 6 Capitol protests. But Braynard's group has made the deification of the violent seditionists a major focus of their actions, of late. They collected about 100 people outside the Washington, D.C., jail last month to protest the continued incarceration of a few dozen insurrectionists, demanding the jail "let them go!"
Braynard, along with Donald Trump himself, has also been a part of conservatism's attempts to glorify an insurrectionist shot dead by law enforcement as the crowd assaulted police officers and broke through a door that separated them from sheltering lawmakers.
Between that insurrection and now, however, things have changed. That "Look Ahead America" could only muster a hundred or so demonstrators—including relatives of the jailed—for their July protest does not suggest they will be able to muster large crowds on Capitol grounds. Certainly, nothing of the scale the seditious Trump himself orchestrated in January. Comments from Capitol Police officers and others preparing for the demonstration also suggest that nobody in the Capitol is in any mood to take any shit from the sedition backers, so if Braynard's allies think they can count on a police under-reaction to belligerence by the explicitly pro-insurrection crowd, then they can kiss those theories goodbye. Even if a crowd of thousands was assembled, the Capitol Police will have backup and then some this time around.
More dangerous is the continued trend of Republican groups being very willing, just a half-year after stoking violent insurrection, to both pretend that the violent attempt to overturn the results of a U.S. election was not violent, nothing to be prosecuted for, and that those who participated are "patriots" rather than willing seditionists.
As for Braynard? He's a bit of an odd duck. David Corn has been following his antics, and let's just say the man seems to be trying to make a career of Trumpian conspiracy theories. Braynard raised over $700,000 to look for “voter fraud." He assisted Rudy Giuliani in spreading false claims about the election (and was paid for that part, too.) His ridiculous and conspiratorial election fraud claims have been blasted to oblivion by lawmakers and actual election experts.
The kind-of, sort-of nonprofit Look Ahead America also got funded to the tune of $2 million by Arizona Senate candidate Jim Lamon, an apparent effort to use the far-right conspiracy peddling group to register "tens of thousands of new conservative voters."
Behind the scenes, Braynard and his group have a whole lot of sketch going on. Last month, the group made a scene at CPAC by sponsoring an appearance by suspected sex trafficker Rep. Matt Gaetz during a time when even the hard-right, pro-Trump, pro-sedition conspiracy conference really, really did not want Gaetz to be associated with their brand; CPAC confiscated some of the signage for the event for supposed security reasons and was insistent that the sex trafficker's appearance had not been sanctioned.
Braynard also helped promote a political conference organized by white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes.
David Corn also reports that, in 2017, during Braynard's time at Columbia University, Braynard created a "Literary Journal of the New Nationalism" titled Otoya, a nod to a Japanese ultranationalist who stabbed a Japanese legislator to death on live television. It wasn't a coincidence; the assassin, says Corn, was explicitly praised by Braynard for doing away with a leftist leader.
So a Trump campaign aide who praises a political assassination, provides financial support to an infamous white nationalist, and peddles farcical theories that the hard-right Trump administration only lost the presidency due to conspiracies by conservatism's enemies is now focusing his efforts on portraying far-right U.S. insurrectionists as heroes and demanding that they be released? Yeah. Yeah, um, that seems like an interesting ... trend.
I'm not saying the guy is a Nazi, mind you. He just seems to have specific opinions about white nationalism, political assassination, and overturning elections by force. Nothing you wouldn't hear in the Mar-a-Lago buffet line.
As for what will happen on September 16, again, it's not quite clear yet. At this point, it doesn't look like Braynard has the clout to gather much of a crowd, even among the virulently pro-Trump right. However, he does appear to have at least some links (like Fuentes) to the sort of white nationalist or neo-nazi collections that tend to produce the most violent radicals. It's likely to be a complete bust.
There's little to no chance this time around that Trump's violent base will be able to overwhelm police lines through violence, though. And there's a whole lotta chance that federal agents will be using the opportunity to scan the rebellion-minded crowd for any January 6 faces they might not have been able to put names to yet.