An alleged Three Percenter, who is accused of breaching the Capitol, will remain in jail awaiting his trial after his own family members gave officials information leading to his arrest, CNN reported Monday.
Guy Reffitt, a Texas husband and father, drove to Washington, DC, to attend the January 6 pro-Trump rally armed with an AR-15 rifle and pistol, threatened his family members, boasted about his participation, and bragged to fellow militia members that the siege was just “the beginning,” according to court documents.
Days after returning from his trip to the nation’s capital, Reffitt told his children he knew the FBI was “watching him.” On January 11 he told his 18-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter he had to “erase everything,” referring to video evidence of his attendance, legal records said.
Reffitt told his son, Jackson, that if he crossed the line and reported his father to the police, Reffitt would have no option but to “do what he had to do,” Jackson told investigators. When Jackson asked his father if he was threatening him, Reffitt reportedly responded by saying, “don’t put words in my mouth,” the affidavit said.
Reffitt also threatened his daughter, according to court documents. The girl was using her cell phone to talk with friends when Reffitt told her if she was recording him or put anything about him on social media she would have “crossed the line, betrayed the family” and he would “put a bullet through” her phone, according to the affidavit.
That same day, the two children – who disapproved of their father’s pro-Trump politics – told their mother, Nicole, that Reffitt had threatened them. When confronted by his wife, Reffitt reportedly doubled down on his warnings, saying if his children turned him in they would be traitors and “traitors get shot,” court documents said.
Reffitt’s wife and son told FBI officials all this and more when agents arrived at their Wylie home on January 16 to execute a search warrant and eventually arrest Reffitt, according to legal records.
Jackson has since left the family’s home and is now living in an undisclosed location, according to court documents. The son previously told CNN that he tipped the FBI off about his father.
But despite detailing Reffitt’s post-siege behavior to investigators, family members have continued to support the patriarch in court and in the media.
Nicole told CNN that Reffitt is a “loving husband and devoted father, loyal friend, and passionate patriot.” She insisted his statements were taken out of context and said nobody ever felt they were in real danger.
The couple’s minor daughter and her boyfriend, meanwhile testified on behalf of Reffitt in court Monday. Though she told the judge she thought Reffitt had tried to intimidate her and her brother, his daughter said she did not believe he would be dangerous if released, CNN reported.
Reffitt’s lawyer also downplayed his client’s threats while arguing for his pretrial release.
US Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui rejected Reffitt’s release request because of prosecutors’ claims that Reffitt had donned body armor, a helmet, a firearm, and plastic flex-cuffs on the Capitol grounds, according to The Washington Post.
Faruqui said Reffitt had used encrypted communications with fellow Three Percenters before and after the attack and had planned for violence.
Insider reached out to Reffitt’s defense attorney for comment.
The Three Percenters, a far-right, anti-government group for which Reffitt said he conducted vetting and intelligence, formed in 2008, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Its name originates from the myth that only 3% of colonists took up arms during the Revolutionary War. Members view themselves as “modern-day versions of those revolutionaries fighting against a tyrannical US government rather than the British.”
When Faruqui read his decision, it elicited a “wail” from Reffitt’s wife, daughter, and daughter’s boyfriend, CNN reported.
Despite their support of Reffitt, it was at least the third time members of his family had given details about his actions to authorities.
“Don’t be disappointed,” wrote one subscriber on a popular QAnon Telegram channel late Thursday night. “The race is not run yet and I have reason to believe March 20 is also possible.”
Another believer posted a similarly optimistic message. “We still have 16 days,” they wrote. “Lots can happen between now and then!”
With the passing of March 4, a highly-anticipated date for the conspiracy group, followers remain characteristically delusional.
With the uneventful passage of yet another supposedly momentous date, QAnon fans spent Friday morning urging followers to look forward and “keep the faith.”
QAnon’s March 4 failure
When “the Storm’ – the promise of mass arrests and executions on Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day -amounted to nothing, followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory scrambled for a new date to imagine Trump’s fictional swearing-in ceremony.
March 4, like several fruitless dates that preceded it, was born out of a convoluted political fantasy.
QAnon adherents borrowed from the obscure US-based sovereign-citizen movement to suggest that Trump would return to power on March 4, 2021. Sovereign citizens “believe that they get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks extremism.
The conspiracy-theory movement will continue to invent new dates to look forward to, or else their years of obsessional beliefs will all have been for naught, say far-right experts.
“Reality doesn’t really matter,” Nick Backovic, a contributing editor at fact-checking website Logically, where he researches misinformation and disinformation, told Insider. “Whether QAnon can survive another great disappointment, there’s no question – it can.”
The March 4 theory is rooted in a bizarre belief that argues all laws after the 14th Amendment, ratified in 1868, are illegitimate.
The 20th Amendment, which moved Inauguration Day from March 4 to January 20, is viewed by sovereign citizens as invalid.
Therefore, proponents of this conspiracy theory insisted that Trump would restore a republic that has been out of action for over 150 years on the day when former presidents were sworn-in.
Travis View, a conspiracy theory expert and host of the QAnon Anonymous podcast, previously told Insider that it’s based on a “blind faith” that Trump can “fix everything.”
A series of no-shows
Before March 4, the QAnon follower’s calendar was marked with a string of dates that were once hailed as moments of reckoning that didn’t happen.
In 2017, the first “Q drop” – the cryptic messages from the anonymous “Q” figure whose guidance runs the movement – claimed that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be arrested because of an unfounded allegation that she was involved in child sex trafficking. This, of course, never happened, but the QAnon conspiracy theory was born.
Then, in a bid to reconcile their belief that Trump would remain president, they believed January 6, which went on to be a deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, was a precursor to “The Storm” – a violent event that would result in the execution of child-abusive elites.
The goalpost was then moved to January 20, based on the claim that Trump would seize power prior to Biden taking his oath.
But Trump was not inaugurated again on January 20 and instead left Washington to move down to his Florida home. In the hours after Biden’s inauguration, some QAnon believers were left confused and crestfallen.
Mental gymnastics ensued, with some QAnon influencers arguing that Biden’s inauguration had happened in a Hollywood studio and was therefore invalid; others claimed that Trump sent signals during his final pre-inauguration address indicating that he’d remain in office. These influencers again promoted to their followers the idea that somehow, their theory was not yet over.
“QAnon is dealing with a very difficult cognitive dissonance situation,” Michael Barkun, professor emeritus of political science at Syracuse University, told Insider.
Naturally, some believers become fed up with failures
A Wednesday post on a QAnon Telegram channel with nearly 200,000 subscribers called the plan “BS,” though the same page told their followers that the “new Republic” would begin on March 4.
Another top conspiracy theorist told their 71,000 subscribers on Wednesday morning that a “Q drop” contained a hint that the March 4 conspiracy theory was a false flag. “March 4 is a Trap,” the post said.
Whenever QAnon’s prophecies are proven wrong, the movement does lose some support, Backovic said.
In the days after President Biden’s inauguration, many QAnon believers did express a desire to leave the movement, fed up with the lies they’d been told. Even Ron Watkins, once QAnon’s top source for voter-fraud misinformation, told his 134,000 Telegram subscribers in the afternoon of January 20, “Now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able.”
QAnon influencers calling the March 4 conspiracy a “false flag” also helps place blame on others in case things go awry like they did on January 6. Finding a scapegoat is a common tactic for extremists, according to Backovic.
After the Capitol insurrection, QAnon supporters and other pro-Trump protesters – and several Republicans in Congress – spread the false claim that antifa, the anti-fascist movement, staged the deadly coup attempt on the Capitol.
In addition to focusing on specific dates, QAnon has evolved and adapted to include other conspiracy theories and enter more conventional spaces.
Last spring, the movement pivoted to focus on ending human trafficking, making “Save the Children” its new battle cry. QAnon leveraged on mainstream social media, including Instagram, where lifestyle influencers spread it.
With nothing happening on March 4, believers look forward (again)
The latest disappointment has already resulted in new dates being introduced with increasingly desperate explanations.
Some QAnon influencers have suggested that March 20 is when Trump will seize control, misinterpreting the Presidential Transition Enhancement Act of 2019, which streamlines the presidential transition by providing certain services to the previous administration 60 days after the inauguration.
The claim, first made on a popular QAnon Telegram channel, appeared to be making ground with supporters offline, too. A QAnon supporter interviewed by The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel said he believes Trump remains in command of the military and will be inaugurated on the 20th.
But core followers of the conspiracy theory are reluctant to throw all their weight behind a particular date.
In another Telegram message board for QAnon believers, one post encouraged people to remain open-minded about Q’s plan. “Dates for late March, April, May, and more dates in the fall have been tossed out there,” the post said. “While we can speculate and hope, no specific dates have been landed on… don’t get caught up in the dates, watch what’s happening.”
For those tempered by repeated disappointment, some are simply set on a resounding victory for Trump in 2024.
“Whether it’s some date in March or whether ultimately it will be a second Trump term after an election in 2024,” Barkun told Insider. “There will be some further set of explanations and a further set of dates.”
On Monday, the company announced that site was up and running with a Tea Party co-founder serving as interim CEO. Mark Meckler, an attorney, political activist, and founder of the Tea Party Patriots, replaced former CEO and co-founder John Matze, who was fired by the company’s board earlier this month.
In a statement Monday, Meckler said, “Parler was built to offer a social media platform that protects free speech and values privacy and civil discourse,” highlighting the platform’s focus on freedom of speech. “Parler is being run by an experienced team and is here to stay. We will thrive as the premier social media platform dedicated to free speech, privacy and civil dialogue,” the statement said.
A spokesperson did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.
Parler is largely funded by Rebekah Mercer, a conservative megadonor whose family was among the most influential backers of then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Dan Bongino, a conservative activist, has also said he’s a co-owner.
The company came under scrutiny after the Capitol insurrection as evidence emerged that the rioters had used Parler and other platforms to coordinate the attack.
The proposed deal, which was reportedly in talks last summer and after Trump lost the election, also would have required Trump to post on Parler four hours before reposting the content on other platforms, while also linking back to Parler, according to BuzzFeed.
Matze did not mention the specifics of the BuzzFeed report in the interview with Axios but said the negotiations over the summer did not get very far.
BuzzFeed reported that the Parler deal could have violated anti-bribery laws because Parler would have given Trump something of value in exchange for control over his official statements, according to ethics experts.
Twitter on Saturday suspended the account for Gateway Pundit, a far-right website that for years has spread false information and conspiracy theories, including disinformation about the 2020 presidential election.
In a statement to Forbes, a Twitter spokesperson said the account was suspended for “repeated violations” of its civic integrity policy, which prohibits users from tweeting “for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes.”
Twitter did not immediately reply to Insider’s request for comment.
Jim Hoft, the founder and editor-in-chief of Gateway Pundit, operated the account.
The website had for years shared baseless conspiracy theories and false information, most recently echoing former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
When Democrat Joe Biden won the election, Trump for weeks refused to explicitly acknowledge his loss. In the hours after the race was called for Biden, Trump said the “election is far from over.”
He then doubled down and sought to overturn the results in state and federal courts across the country. The Trump campaign and the president’s allies had filed, and lost, dozens of lawsuits in multiple battleground states contesting the results.
And allegations of voter fraud have been struck down and disproven numerous times since Trump and his lawyers presented their arguments. The Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr, who’s repeatedly positioned himself as one of the president’s strongest defenders, conceded that neither the Justice Department nor the FBI found widespread evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Still, Trump continued to claim otherwise, posting frequently on his personal Twitter account – which has been permanently suspended – about widespread voter fraud and a “rigged” election.
Gateway Pundit doubled down on those false claims.
Just about a week ago, Hoft, using the Gateway Pundit Twitter account, pushed claims that some ballots cast for Biden were illegal, the Hill reported, referencing an archived version of the now-suspended account.
Bloomberg News reported that Hoft was one of the people pictured at Trump’s “Save America” rally on January 6, hours before violent rioters stormed the Capitol building.
After Trump’s account was disabled, top conservatives began sharing their Parler accounts on the platform, encouraging their followers to follow them there. Parler became a flagship in alt-right communication, advertising itself as a platform for unregulated language and “free speech.”
The far-right movement came out of the shadows in the last year.
The year 2020, defined by a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, brought white supremacists, right-wing extremists, and other groups promoting social unrest into the limelight.
From the Proud Boys to QAnon, the armed militias, and the Boogaloo Bois, scroll down to find out more about how far-right extremism made its way back into the limelight in 2020.
The year 2020 has been defined by white supremacists’ rapid growth, right-wing extremists, and other groups who promote hate, division, and social unrest.
These groups have been fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the 2020 presidential election.
The Proud Boys, a far-right political organization that calls itself a “fraternity” of “Western chauvinists”, gained national media attention during the first presidential debate when President Trump told them to “stand back and stand by.”
The group was founded in 2018 by Gavin McInnes, who is also the co-founder of Vice Media.
While McInnes and other leaders of the group have denied that it is racist, some members “espouse white supremacist and anti-Semitic ideologies” and are involved in white supremacist organizations, according to the ADL.
Classified by the FBI as an”extremist group with ties to white nationalism,” the Proud Boys are known for holding rallies to protest left-wing groups and stoking violence.
The Proud Boys also made appearances at political rallies this year, including a November “Million MAGA March” demonstration against the election results.
The fraternity’s international chairman, Enrique Tarrio, told Insider in September that some of its members were running for the 2020 election, but declined to identify them by name.
“We have our guys who are running for office, and we’ll be busy door-knocking pretty much across the county,” Tarrio told Insider at the time. “We’re focused on the election and getting our favorite candidates elected, including our guys.”
Other organizations that came to the forefront in 2020 include the Boogaloo Bois, a loosely organized far-right, anti-government group known for wearing trademark Hawaiian shirts and wielding rifles at various protests.
The Boogaloo Bois, who are supporters of the Second Amendment, have called for a second US civil war and an uprising against the federal government.
The Boogaloo Bois have been linked to several crimes. Earlier this week, one member pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide weapons and resources to US-designated terrorist group Hamas.
“This case highlights the real threat posed by domestic violent extremists who self-radicalize and threaten to violently attack others opposed to their views, with little or no warning,” said Michael Paul, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis field office, according to Insider.
The same has been witnessed in other European countries, including the United Kingdom, where fascist symbols or QAnon references often make an appearance in anti-lockdown protests.
In the summer, hundreds of demonstrators, some of whom belonged to far-right groups, clashed with police during a protest in London. This picture,- of a BLM supporter carrying an injured counter-protester to safety – made national headlines.
Experts worry right-wing extremism will continue to be a problem in the years to come. Top international security officials last year ranked it as one of the world’s most serious security threats alongside space security, climate change, and emerging technologies.