Rolling Stone published a story on Sunday relying on anonymous sources who said they met with GOP House representatives "leading up" to the Capitol riot of January 6.
These sources allegedly said that they were offered a "blanket pardon" by the Oval Office for illegal activity, but the story they then detail is a quote from Rep. Paul Gosar that would have to be deciphered with decoder ring from a Cracker Jack box in order to be understood as the offering of a presidential pardon.
Despite the salacious headline "EXCLUSIVE: Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in 'Dozens' of Planning Meetings With Members of Congress and White House Staff," nothing in the article, other than the author, claims that these sources met with members of Congress to plan a riot at the Capitol.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used the article as a basis to proclaim that "Any member of Congress who helped plot a terrorist attack on our nation's capitol must be expelled."
She went on to say "This was a terror attack. 138 injured, almost 10 dead. Those responsible remain a danger to our democracy, our country, and human life in the vicinity of our Capitol and beyond."
One person was killed during the riot, Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter and Veteran, was shot by Capitol Police Officer Lt. Michael Byrd. Byrd faced no charges, though internal police documents reveal that there was "no good reason for shooting" Babbitt.
Ocasio-Cortez, who was in a congressional office building at the time of the riot, has spoken repeatedly about her fears during that day, and how terrified she was when an officer came to check and make sure she was safe. Though she was not in Congress at the time of the riot, she said she's effectively "served in a war" due to her experiences that day.
Despite her calls for the expelling of duly elected representatives, the article admits that no one was talking about marching on the Capitol. That wasn't at all part of the planning.
After this article was published, Rep. Kenneth Raskin said that he knows that Americans want to know what Pelosi's committee is uncovering with their broad subpoena's and demands for communications records and documents from journalists, former White House officials, and others.
While he said he is "reserving judgement," he followed that up by saying "You don't knock over the US Capitol and wound 140 officers and storm the capitol and lay a state of siege to the Congress without any money being behind it." Pelosi's January 6 committee is looking into who funded Trump's rally at the ellipse on Jan. 6.
The article reads that "both sources" said that they had discussed plans for "a rally that would solely take place at the ellipse" with "other organizers, Trump allies, and members of Congress." They said they expected to hear "evidence" about electoral issues from the 202o US presidential election.
One of the sources said that "the Capitol was never in play," yet the article is framed in such a way as to lead readers to believe that sitting Congressmen planned a riot.
Rolling Stone writes that the anonymous sources "detailed explosive allegations that multiple members of Congress were intimately involved in planning both Trump’s efforts to overturn his election loss and the Jan. 6 events that turned violent."
The article describes these sources as having been involved in planning departing President Trump's rally at the ellipse in Washington, DC on January 6, as well as planning rallies and demonstrations elsewhere in the US. During their planning of rallies, they allegedly spoke to members of Congress.
According to Rolling Stone, these anonymous sources say that Rep. Paul Gosar offered pardons for illegal behavior. The quote from Gosar used to back that up is: "I was just going over the list of pardons and we just wanted to tell you guys how much we appreciate all the hard work you’ve been doing."
Rolling Stone uses the fact that many GOP House reps backed Trump, voted against electoral college certification of Joe Biden, and were in content with Trump rally organizers, as a smoking gun that proves they were involved in planning a riot.
The FBI has investigated allegations of prior planning of the Capitol riot, and found "scant evidence" of any prior organization or conspiracy to riot.
Members of Congressional staff, who were fine to use their names, spoke to Rolling Stone about their member's involvement. Nick Dyer, communications director for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, said that "Congresswoman Greene and her staff were focused on the Congressional election objection on the House floor and had nothing to do with planning of any protest."
Greene has been outspoken in her opposition to President Biden, bringing letters of impeachment to the floor of the House. It's no secret that she backed Trump, and advocated for a fuller understanding of the voting procedures in some states, along with Trump.
Rolling Stone said that these unnamed source "can provide news details about the members' specific roles" in "event and similar rallies" prior to January 6. One of the anonymous sources says they "have no problem openly testifying" in Congress, but declined to allow Rolling Stone to print their name.
More than 600 people have been arrested in connection with the Capitol riot of January 6, and none of those has been charged with insurrection. Most are facing trespassing charges.
Rolling Stone has a history of spreading hoaxes, such as a recent hoax about the drug Ivermectin, which was spread further by MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. Rolling Stone also fabricated a story about a rape on a college campus, for which they eventually were found guilty of defamation.