Ideas. Stories. Community.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Jan. 6 committee has shared some clues about the money behind the rally


The House committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol has been digging into the money that funded events earlier that day before the deadly siege. Several months into the probe, it's one of the most closely held parts of the investigation, but the committee has shared some clues through various subpoenas and court filings. NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales has more.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: In the coming days, the committee investigating January 6 could unearth new details tied to the money behind the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The House Select Committee is seeking information from a new witness that could feed into the larger story.


BENNIE THOMPSON: If funds were raised for the Jan. 6 event by an organized group, then there might be an opportunity for us to know who it was and what it was paid.

GRISALES: That's Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson, who chairs the House Select Committee. He's responding to a question about Kimberly Guilfoyle, who is now facing a subpoena to turn over documents on Friday and testify next week before the panel. The fiancee of Donald Trump Jr. is a key figure in the committee's efforts to follow the money. And she was one of several speakers at the January 6 rally.


KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: We will not allow the liberals and the Democrats to steal our dream or steal our elections.

GRISALES: Last year, ProPublica reported Guilfoyle bragged in text messages about raising $3 million for the event. In their subpoena, the committee noted the reporting of the text to another organizer, where Guilfoyle had said she quote, "raised so much money for this." It's a reminder that more than a year later, it's still not clear how much money was funneled to the January 6 rally or events that preceded it, and who got paid along the way.

ANNA MASSOGLIA: There's still a lot of unknowns there.

GRISALES: That's Anna Massoglia, an editorial and investigations manager with a nonprofit Open Secret, who is also trying to track the money trail. Massoglia says a combination of dark money groups, nonprofits and super PACs funded the rally before the attack but not necessarily the insurrection. She says the committee will be key to filling in the blanks that remain.

MASSOGLIA: There's those unknowns of the groups on social media that didn't have as much of an official rule, but there is a lot of unknown about even these groups that are listed. There's a lot of money that is still unaccounted for.

GRISALES: Open Secrets has compiled a list of more than a half a dozen rally organizers, including one group called Stop the Steal, that may have contributed funds. Massoglia says tax returns due later this year could also shed more light. January 6 committee member Pete Aguilar says it's clear that former President Trump and certain allies benefited from the cash infusions ahead of the attack.

PETE AGUILAR: I think the level of grift that was involved with the Trump campaign and people close to the former president, how the January 6 effort were, for many of them, this is what they were doing to make money.

GRISALES: The California Democrat and other committee members want to know if Trump's team profited by shifting gears from a presidential campaign to a stop the steal effort. In other words, members want to know, did Trump find a new way to keep the money coming in even after the loss of reelection?

AGUILAR: We are looking into that. We're looking at the funders and the funding sources for the rallies, both the rallies on the 5th and the 6th, as well as how the Trump campaign dialed up the stop the steal rhetoric.

GRISALES: In subpoenas, the panel has also mentioned questions of appearance fees, like payments some at the rally may have received. It's also quietly sought banking records, including in the case of Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman who sued to keep his financial institution from complying with the subpoena.

JAMIE RASKIN: There is no doubt that there is a very big moneymaking operation component to this story.

GRISALES: That's Jamie Raskin, the Maryland Democrat and former lead House impeachment manager who now sits on the January 6 committee.

RASKIN: There are powerful indications that have surfaced, and every day that passes, we get more testimony shedding light on what exactly was taking place. We should not discount the financial motive and imperatives in the events leading up to January 6.

GRISALES: Ultimately, the story of the January 6 money trail will mark a key chapter in the panel's hearings and reports planned for later this year. Claudia Grisales, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.