National Security

Who is Jan. 6 witness Stephen Ayres?

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection will hold their latest hearing on Tuesday, and Capitol riot defendant Stephen Ayres is expected to be one of the witnesses giving public testimony, according to multiple news reports.

The hearing is expected to focus on a tweet that former President Trump made on Dec. 19, 2020. In the tweet, he noted a report made by former aide Peter Navarro that alleged election fraud and mentioned that a protest would be held in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021.

The panel is seeking to demonstrate how that tweet was interpreted by extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers as a call to action to go to the Capitol that day to keep the former president in power.

Here’s what we know about Stephen Ayres:

Stephen Ayres had entered the Capitol on the day of the riot and had indicated his intentions to go there before Jan. 6, according to an affidavit, which cited surveillance footage and Facebook screenshots provided by a witness, who was a family member of his, among others.

The family member provided screenshots taken from Ayres’s Facebook page, including a tweet from Trump that the Capitol defendant shared. The Trump tweet was issued on Dec. 27, 2020, and encouraged his supporters to come to Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6., according to the court filing. 

“Where will you be on January 6th? Chilling at home? HOPING this country isn’t going to hell in a hand basket? Or are you willing to start fighting for the American Dream! Again!?!?” Ayres said regarding Trump’s tweet, the affidavit noted.

Ayres “and a handful of other people are headed to D.C. for the Trump rally on the 6th!! . . . . So hopefully we are going to hear about [how] all the DS are being tried for treason!!” he wrote in a separate post on Facebook in late December 2020.

Officials also accessed Ayres’s Facebook account and noted several posts he made, including one that referenced Trump’s Dec. 19 tweet.

“History is being made right in front of your eyes! When your grandchildren ask ‘Where were you when………..happened?’ What’s your answer going to be?” Ayres said in a Jan. 2, 2021, Facebook post, according to the affidavit, which included a poster in the post saying, “January 6th Washington, DC, the president is calling on us to come back to Washington on January 6th for a big protest — ‘Be there, will be wild.’”

The affidavit also noted that surveillance footage reviewed of the Capitol indicated that Ayres and another man were in the Senate lobby on the day of the riot. The family member was also able to confirm after reviewing screenshots of the footage taken of him at different points that the person in those photos was Ayres. 

Officials also learned that Ayres had been broadcasting live on Facebook at several points on Jan. 6 after a search warrant of his account on the social media platform was authorized.

Ayres was arrested on Jan. 25, 2021, and entered into a plea agreement earlier this year in which he pleaded guilty to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. 

The Capitol riot defendant’s testimony could prove important because his social media posts cite Trump’s tweets encouraging his supporters to go to the Capitol on the day of the riot.

That would support the committee’s claims that, in an effort to reject the 2020 election results, the former president helped organize the Capitol riot. 

The Hill has reached out to a committee spokesperson and Ayres’s lawyer for comment. 

Tags Capitol riot Jan. 6 hearings Peter Navarro Stephen Ayres Trump tweets

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