Over the weekend, hundreds gathered in Dallas for a four-day conference with ties to prominent QAnon figures to listen to keynote speakers who repeated false claims that former president Donald Trump won the 2020 election, appeared to welcome a Myanmar-style military coup in the United States and dismissed the significance of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Among those speakers was one sitting congressman.
With the slogan for QAnon — an extremist ideology that the FBI has deemed a domestic terrorism threat — shining onstage behind him, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) spoke to a crowd gathered for the “For God & Country Patriot Roundup” on Saturday, where he downplayed the seriousness of the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and criticized Democrats pushing an independent review of the deadly event.
He suggested that “it wasn’t just right-wing extremists” rioting in the Capitol, even though federal officials have consistently debunked claims that leftist activists played a role in the attack. He also suggested that the insurrection shouldn’t be a serious concern because the United States has weathered worse, including foreign attacks.
“Some of us think Pearl Harbor was the worst attack on democracy, some of us think 9/11 was the worst attack,” he said. “Some of us think that those things were worse attacks on democracy.”
Gohmert later posed for a photo with a QAnon-promoting podcaster who has claimed that he participated in the Jan. 6 riot, reported Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog group.
Gohmert’s office did not immediately return a request for comment about his participation in the conference.
Gohmert has previously dismissed concerns over the deadly violence at the Capitol, including last month when he inaccurately claimed that most of the people who involved in the Capitol riot had been “nonviolent, peaceful Americans” whose “only crime was supporting Donald Trump.”
Gohmert, who represents a slice of eastern Texas, has been a loyal Trump ally. He promoted the former president’s baseless claims of election fraud and even filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results. That suit was promptly dismissed by a federal judge just 12 hours later.
Although Gohmert was the only sitting member of Congress to speak at the event, several other prominent Trump backers also made waves at the conference, which has tried to distance itself from QAnon. Some attendees told the Dallas Morning News that they did not come to discuss the extremist ideology — but the event’s logo included the phrase “WWG1WGA,” a common QAnon slogan.
Michael Flynn, a former national security adviser to Trump who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was later pardoned by the former president, faced quick backlash after appearing to suggest at the event that a military coup akin to the one unfolding in Myanmar “should” happen in the United States.
The moment occurred when an audience member asked Flynn why “what happened in [Myanmar] can’t happen here?” The crowd broke out in cheers as Flynn readied his response.
“No reason,” Flynn said. “I mean, it should happen here.”
His response, which went viral on Twitter on Sunday, inspired ire among some centrist Republicans.
“No American should advocate or support the violent overthrow of the United States,” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in a tweet Sunday.
Anti-Trump Republican and Air Force veteran Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) also denounced Flynn’s comments on Sunday: “Wow. NO,” he said in a tweet. “We will defend our constitution.”
Lt. Col. Yevgeny “Eugene” Vindman, who was fired by the Trump White House after his twin brother testified in the former president’s first impeachment trial, suggested that Flynn’s words could be considered a violation of military law, which would apply to Flynn as a retired Army lieutenant general.
“With these seditious remarks Comrade Flynn may have crossed the line for recall to active duty and court-martial,” Vindman said in a tweet. “As a JAG I’m qualified and also happy to prosecute this case.”
Flynn later said on Telegram that he had been misinterpreted, despite video of his remarks.
“Let me be VERY CLEAR,” he wrote. “There is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort.”
In another viral moment from the conference, lawyer Sidney Powell again repeated false claims that Trump had won the 2020 election and could still be “reinstated” as president.
Powell was one of the loudest voices pushing for the election results to be overturned last year, and has been sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems because of unfounded claims she made about the company’s voting machines. Her legal strategy in that case has been to claim that “no reasonable person” would believe the false statements she made about the election.
The Jan. 6 insurrection
The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection has held a series of high-profile hearings throughout the summer: Find Day 8′s highlights and analysis.
Congressional hearings: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol has conducted a series of hearings to share its findings with the U.S. public. The eighth hearing focused on Trump’s inaction on Jan. 6. Here’s a guide to the biggest moments so far.
Will there be charges? The committee could make criminal referrals of former president Donald Trump over his role in the attack, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said in an interview.
The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.
Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6.