Alex Jones' texts could shed light on Arizona activities and GOP protests tied to 'Stop the Steal'

Robert Anglen
Arizona Republic

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones bellowed into a bullhorn outside the Maricopa County elections center in 2020, telling crowds of right-wing followers not to accept presidential election results and leading them in chants of "1776."

Jones' Nov. 5 and 6 appearances coincided with a string of protests by Arizona Republican lawmakers at the state Capitol and at the election center, who raised baseless claims of voter fraud even as ballots were tallied.

While Jones didn't share the stage with Reps. Paul Gosar and Debbie Lesko, state Rep. Kelly Townsend or Republican Party Chair Kelli Ward, he shared their "Stop the Steal" rhetoric.

Newly revealed text messages sent and received by Jones in 2019 and 2020 could shed light on his activities in Arizona and his ties to lawmakers linked to efforts to overturn the election on behalf of former President Donald Trump.

CNN reported Monday that Jones' texts were turned over to the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The texts were obtained by a Texas lawyer during a defamation lawsuit against Jones brought by the parents of a child killed during the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.

A jury last week hit Jones with judgments totaling more than $49 million for the emotional harm he inflicted by claiming on his "Infowars" radio show the shooting was a hoax and that the children weren't dead.

The lawyer, Mark Bankston, revealed in court that Jones' lawyers erroneously sent him two years of phone records during discovery. He used the texts during cross-examination to show that Jones had lied during his testimony. Jones told Bankston it was his "Perry Mason moment."

Bankston did not respond to calls or an email seeking information about the texts. He told CNN he was cooperating with the Jan. 6 committee.

Jones' lawyers sought to claw black the phone records and asked the judge in the case to destroy them. Jones' lawyer also asked for a mistrial. The judge rejected the requests and did not bar Bankston from giving the records to the Jan. 6 committee.

Jones was a prominent figure in the "Stop the Steal" movement and was at the Capitol on Jan. 6, although he did not go inside. Jones was subpoenaed by the committee in November. He later bragged on his podcast that he pleaded "the Fifth" more than 100 times, referring to his Fifth Amendment right under the Constitution protecting him from self-incrimination.  

Jones told followers outside the elections center in Phoenix in 2020 they needed to prepare to go to Washington.

"Everyone who can needs to go and surround the White House and support the president," he shouted through the bullhorn, which he carried at both rallies. "I'm going to Washington, D.C., next to defend the president and surround the White House myself."

Right wing radio show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones arrives at a protest being held by supporters of President Trump at the Maricopa County Elections Department in Phoenix, Ariz. on Nov. 5, 2020. Protesters were asking for ballot counters to count all of the votes in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Jones' calls were ominously taken up by Arizona lawmakers in the days and weeks leading up to Jan. 6.

Gosar and Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs discussed the approaching date as "The Alamo" or "D-Day" in a December 2020 broadcast of Sean Hannity's radio show.

Ali Alexander, the architect of "Stop the Steal," said he testified about having "a few phone conversations" with Gosar and spoke to Biggs "in person" ahead of Jan. 6.

Alexander famously called Gosar the "spirit animal" of "Stop the Steal" efforts in a video posted before the attack that has since been deleted. He described Biggs as a hero of the movement during a 2020 rally in Phoenix and led a chant in his name. 

As rioters fought past police and breached the interior of the Capitol, Biggs and Gosar were in the House calling to set aside electors chosen by voters in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

The plan to nullify electors in seven swing states was cooked up by members of Trump's legal team, including Rudy Giuliani, who proposed replacing the electors with bogus slates supporting Trump. 

Confusion over the competing slates would allow Vice President Mike Pence to toss out the votes from all seven states and declare Trump the winner. Pence refused to go along with the plot.

On Dec. 14, 2020, a group of 11 Republicans met at the Arizona Republican Party headquarters and signed a document declaring they were "duly elected and qualified" electors for Arizona. 

They were actually the second group of fake electors in Arizona that asserted in documents sent to the National Archives they were the rightful representatives of the state.

Ward, the Republican Party chair, sat at the head of the table and said a prayer for the group, which included former state Rep Anthony Kern, R-Glendale.

Kern, who won the Aug. 2 primary for a state Senate seat, spoke at "Stop the Steal" rallies in 2020 and one near the White House on Jan. 5, 2021.

Kern was outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 and predicted that it would be a big day.

The fake electors knew they were likely breaking the law, according to emails obtained by The New York Times in July. 

Phoenix lawyer Jack Wilenchik, who helped convene the fake Trump electors, urged submitting the electors "even though the votes aren't legal under federal law — because they're not signed by the governor," according to one of the emails.

Wilenchik has ties to key figures involved in the Arizona Republican Party's efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 presidential election results.

He previously represented Cyber Ninjas, the firm hired to lead the Senate’s partisan review of ballots in Maricopa County, in a monthslong battle to prevent thousands of documents from public disclosure.  

Wilenchik also has represented state Rep. Mark Finchem, R-Oro Valley, an election conspiracy theorist who led "Stop the Steal" rallies and who was outside the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot.

Finchem helped organize an unofficial hearing at a Phoenix hotel between Giuliani and legislators. Legislative leaders later were pitched on the idea of tossing out Arizona's election results. They declined.

Finchem is running for secretary of state in November's election.

He and Ward were subpoenaed by the House committee in February.

Ward and other fake electors were subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Justice in June.

Robert Anglen is an investigative reporter for The Republic. Reach him at robert.anglen@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-8694. Follow him on Twitter @robertanglen.

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