Archive for Joshua Zitser

National Guard on standby in DC for March 4 – the day QAnon followers believe that Trump will become president

national guard dc
Members of the National Guard walk through U.S. Capitol grounds following the conclusion of the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump on February 13, 2021 in Washington, DC.
  • Around 4,900 National Guard troops will stay in Washington, DC, until March 12, CNN reported.
  • This is partly due to the fear of potential violence from QAnon followers on March 4.
  • Some QAnon adherents believe that former President Donald Trump will be sworn in on that date.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Almost 5,000 National Guard troops are expected to remain in Washington, DC, until mid-March, according to CNN.

This is partly due to fears of potential violence from followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory on March 4, the media outlet reported.

The request for 4,900 troops to stay until March 12 was made by US Capitol Police, defense officials told CNN.

It was later confirmed by House Armed Services Committee's top Democrat, according to Right Wing Watch.

Some QAnon adherents believe that former President Donald Trump will be sworn in on March 4.

This date's significance is rooted in a bizarre conspiracy theory that a law enacted in 1871 secretly turned the US into a corporation.

Members of the "sovereign citizen" movement, a loose grouping of anti-tax Americans, believe that all presidents in the last 150 years have been illegitimate. In the eyes of this movement and the QAnon followers who now subscribe to it, the last legitimate president was Ulysses S. Grant.

Grant was sworn in on March 4, as were all other commanders-in-chief up until the 1933 introduction of the 20th Amendment. 

Therefore, the conspiracy theorists are clinging to the hope that Trump will be sworn in on March 4, 2021. This, they falsely believe, would make him the US's 19th president.

Rep. Adam Smith, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, expressed his concerns about the security threat presented by this conspiracy theory.

"Some of these people have figured out that apparently 75 years ago, the president used to be inaugurated on March 4," he said. "OK, now why that's relevant? God knows. At any rate, now they are thinking maybe we should gather again and storm the Capitol on March 4 … that is circulating online."

There has been a constant security presence near the US Capitol building since the deadly insurrection on January 6.

During President Joe Biden's inauguration, there were up to 25,000 National Guard troops stationed in DC. 

As many as 5,000 members of the US National Guard were also stationed near the Capitol during Trump's impeachment trial to address security concerns.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How a South Carolina mom went from believing in QAnon to becoming an anti-Trumper in under a month

ashley vanderbilt qanon supporter
Ashley Vanderbilt was a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy theory until Inauguration Day.
  • Ashley Vanderbilt, 27, started believing in the QAnon conspiracy theory last fall.
  • After Inauguration Day, the South Carolina mom started to question the fringe group's beliefs.
  • In an interview with Insider, she described her transformation from a QAnon fanatic to a potential Democrat voter.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

On the day of President Joe Biden's inauguration, 27-year-old Ashley Vanderbilt was glued to her television screen.

The stay-at-home mom from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina - a devoted follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory - was awaiting an explosive event.

"I was convinced that we were going to have a blackout and the emergency broadcasting system would go off," she told Insider. "Joe Biden, the politicians there, the Hollywood elites, they would all be arrested."

Vanderbilt stocked up on groceries, filled her car up with gas, and prepared herself for the advent of 'The Storm.'

The Storm is the day on which many QAnon followers expected former President Donald Trump to miraculously hold onto power, arrest liberal elites, and execute those considered to be traitors.

QAnon forums had predicted that following the deadly US Capitol insurrection, the prophesized reckoning would occur on Inauguration Day.

qanon capitol
Trump supporter and QAnon follower Jake "The Q Shaman" Angeli, real name Jacob Anthony Chansley, attends a "Stop the Steal" rally .

"When Kamala Harris was sworn in, I started to get a little nervous," Vanderbilt told Insider. 

Then, her television glitched. "It froze and my heart dropped," Vanderbilt recalled. "I thought: 'Oh my god, it's going to happen.'"

She then watched horrified as Biden, to her disbelief, was sworn into office.

"I started crying, the tears were flowing, I couldn't stop," Vanderbilt said.

'I was wrong'

For many adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory, as Vanderbilt once was, Inauguration Day was the realization of their worst fears.

Like other QAnon believers, Vanderbilt believed Biden's victory would have terrifying consequences.

"I thought that anybody who was registered as a Republican would get sent off to reeducation camps," she told Insider. "The Democrats were going to start shutting churches and it would escalate to the point of them beginning to execute Christian people."

joe biden inauguration
President Joe Biden delivers his inaugural address.

Vanderbilt was inconsolable. She called her mother in tears.

"I was crying, saying that China is going to take over, that we were all going to die, that we were not going to be able to go to church anymore," she recalled.

She went on Facebook and decided to check-in with her fellow QAnon believers to make sense of Biden's swearing-in. "I wanted to see what they had to say," she said.

Many in the Facebook group were still holding out hope for The Storm. Many clung to March 4 - the day that Trump's most fanatical followers think that the former president will be sworn in.

The belief that Trump will return to power on March 4 is rooted in the "sovereign citizen" movement's outlandish beliefs.

The conspiracy theory is that a law enacted in 1871 secretly turned the US into a corporation. All presidents before 1871 were inaugurated on March 4. According to the sovereign citizen movement, the next valid inauguration will occur on March 4, 2021, and Trump will become the US's 19th president.

Vanderbilt, however, is done with these tangled fantasies.

"I just didn't believe it anymore. It just didn't make sense to me," Vanderbilt told Insider. "I didn't know how a president could be sworn in, it could look so official, and then things could still change."

Part of her newfound skepticism came from disappointment. "The heartbreak and letdown that I felt from us being wrong, it was like somebody had died or I'd gone through a horrible breakup," she said.

Having accepted that Trump was out of office, she decided to post a video on TikTok.

"I was wrong," she told her followers.

@xashxnicole

When does re education camp start? How much do I need to pack? ##inauguration2021 ##conspiracytok ##trumptok

♬ original sound - Ashley

 

"That was the moment I truly got out," Vanderbilt told Insider. "There was something within me, not wanting to feel that devastation of being wrong again, that led to me wanting to find out the truth."

'Life on this side is just more hopeful'

After posting the TikTok video, Vanderbilt received over 1,000 comments - the majority of these questions about her previous support of QAnon.

"The questions I was getting made me self-reflect and made me really tear everything apart and realize how insane it all was," she said. "They really ended up pulling me out of it all."

qanon tiktok videos
Ashley Vanderbilt has received thousands of comments about her QAnon support on TikTok.

Vanderbilt had subscribed to some of QAnon's most fantastical of claims. "I believed that there were these satanic cannibalistic pedophiles who ran the world," she explained to Insider.

An NPR/Ipsos study from December found that in a survey of 1,115 American adults, 17% believed this claim - the central tenet of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Vanderbilt had also believed that several high-profile celebrities were torturing children and drinking their blood. "I even believed that the group had killed some of them [celebrities] off and it was actually their clones walking around," she said.

The South Carolina mom said that she worshipped Trump. "I think I had put him on this really unhealthy pedestal," she told Insider. "I even started to think to myself… had I put God in the backseat?"

Her quest to find the truth after Inauguration Day meant that she was now open to hearing alternate views. 

"Being open-minded and learning how to find unbiased information, that has been really helpful," the former QAnon disciple told Insider.

Now, Vanderbilt has replaced the lurid fantasies of QAnon with a more liberal set of beliefs in just over a month.

ashley vanderbilt qanon
Ashley Vanderbilt told Insider that she wouldn't write off voting for a Democrat in the future.

"I think it's unfortunate that Trump was acquitted," she told Insider. "I don't know why they wouldn't see that he was guilty."

She also told Insider that she wouldn't write off campaigning or voting for a Democrat in a future election. "If I knew what the candidate was about and I felt like we were on the same page, then I would campaign for a Democrat," she told Insider.

Vanderbilt says her political transformation has improved the quality of life. "Life on this side is just more hopeful and it's not full of disappointment and anger and hatred and fear," she said. 

'It's easy to get wrapped up in it all'

Vanderbilt now intends to use her platform to educate others about how easy it is to get caught up in a conspiracy theory.

"It's easy for anybody to believe it and fall into it and smart people fall for it too," she told Insider.

The mother-of-one first got caught up in QAnon through TikTok.

She liked a few Trump videos and the algorithm started to recommend similar videos. Interested in what she was seeing, she reached out to Trump followers she knew with questions.

These people began to send YouTube links, added her to Facebook pages, and invited her to Telegram group chats. She now recognizes that these pages were QAnon propaganda.

"I ended up getting really involved in Telegram and Facebook," Vanderbilt told Insider. She spent hours, every night, watching Facebook live videos of QAnon influencers.

"If you surround yourself with like-mind minded people, all thinking the same thing, it's easy to get wrapped up in it all," she told Insider. " It's difficult to explain to somebody that doesn't understand that."

Videos to do with the trafficking of children are what got her invested. "Trafficking is real and that does happen in the real world," Vanderbilt explained. "Why wouldn't I believe something like that?"

"It piqued my interest," she added. "I wanted to know what was going on and wanted to be able to stay 10 steps ahead of everybody to make sure that my daughter was safe."

qanon ashley vanderbilt
Ashley Vanderbilt told Insider that she's calmer and happier since leaving QAnon.

'It's actually safe out here'

Vanderbilt is now hoping to "create a bridge of understanding" with current QAnon followers. The former QAnon believer wants people to know that there are other options.

"I'd tell current QAnon followers that whenever they're ready to explore other options and seek out alternative answers that there's a huge support system and a lot of encouragement to be given," she added.

"They need to know that it's OK and it's actually safe out here," Vanderbilt said.

She hopes that people who have fallen down the rabbit hole will be treated with "empathy." "I've been where they are and as much as everything seems true," she told Insider. "It's not."

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Wuhan’s COVID-19 outbreak probably 500% bigger than first thought, WHO team tells CNN

who officials wuhan china hospital covid-19
A car that's part of a convoy carrying the World Health Organization team of researchers arrives at the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine also known as the Hubei Province Xinhua Hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.
  • WHO Investigators have discovered that COVID-19 was widely circulating in Wuhan in December 2019.
  • In a CNN interview, the team's lead investigator said there were possibly 1,000+ infections that month.
  • The WHO team's findings also suggest that the virus may have emerged earlier than initially thought.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) have found signs that the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019 might have been more widespread than initially thought, according to CNN.

"The virus was circulating widely in Wuhan in December, which is a new finding," lead investigator Peter Ben Embarek told the media outlet.

Chinese scientists told the WHO team that around 174 cases of COVID-19 in and around Wuhan in December, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reported.

WHO's investigation suggests that there might actually have been over 1,000 infections during that month, CNN said.

Read more: What's coming next for COVID-19 vaccines? Here's the latest on 11 leading programs.

Embarek told CNN that because the number presented by Chinese scientists were likely severe cases, it is unlikely that 174 cases reflect the true number of December infections.

"We have done any modeling of that since, but we know... in ballpark figures... out of the infected population, about 15% end up in severe cases, and the vast majority are mild cases," Embarek said.

This estimate suggests that there would have been at least 1,100 cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan in the final month of 2019.

The WHO team also discovered that there were numerous strains of COVID-19 already spreading across the city in December, according to CNN.

WHO scientists identified 13 different genetic sequences of the virus from that month during their investigation, the media outlet reported.

Changes in genetic sequencing are usual and take place over time as viruses spread and reproduce.

The discovery of over a dozen genetic sequences of the SARS-COV-2 virus from December, however, might suggest that the coronavirus was circulating earlier than initially thought.

Prof. Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney, told CNN: "As there was already genetic diversity in SARS-CoV-2 sequences sampled from Wuhan in December 2019, it is likely that the virus was circulating for a while longer than that month alone."

Embarek declined to reach that conclusion this early on.

This discovery is the latest addition to the growing body of evidence that suggests COVID-19 may have been spreading globally before December.

One analysis by Harvard University, based on Wuhan hospitals' satellite images and search engine traffic for coronavirus symptoms, suggests that the virus may have started circulating there as early as late summer.

Another study from Milan's National Cancer Institute suggests that COVID-19 cases may have been found in Italy in October 2019.

Wuhan's public health officials told the WHO about the illness on December 31, 2019. 

But government records show China's first coronavirus case happened on November 17, 2019, according to an investigation by the South China Morning Post.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Wuhan’s COVID-19 outbreak probably 500% bigger than first thought, WHO team tells CNN

who officials wuhan china hospital covid-19
A car that's part of a convoy carrying the World Health Organization team of researchers arrives at the Hubei Provincial Hospital of Integrated Chinese and Western Medicine also known as the Hubei Province Xinhua Hospital in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Friday, Jan. 29, 2021.
  • WHO Investigators have discovered that COVID-19 was widely circulating in Wuhan in December 2019.
  • In a CNN interview, the team's lead investigator said there were possibly 1,000+ infections that month.
  • The WHO team's findings also suggest that the virus may have emerged earlier than initially thought.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) have found signs that the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan in December 2019 might have been more widespread than initially thought, according to CNN.

"The virus was circulating widely in Wuhan in December, which is a new finding," lead investigator Peter Ben Embarek told the media outlet.

Chinese scientists told the WHO team that around 174 cases of COVID-19 in and around Wuhan in December, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reported.

WHO's investigation suggests that there might actually have been over 1,000 infections during that month, CNN said.

Read more: What's coming next for COVID-19 vaccines? Here's the latest on 11 leading programs.

Embarek told CNN that because the number presented by Chinese scientists were likely severe cases, it is unlikely that 174 cases reflect the true number of December infections.

"We have done any modeling of that since, but we know... in ballpark figures... out of the infected population, about 15% end up in severe cases, and the vast majority are mild cases," Embarek said.

This estimate suggests that there would have been at least 1,100 cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan in the final month of 2019.

The WHO team also discovered that there were numerous strains of COVID-19 already spreading across the city in December, according to CNN.

WHO scientists identified 13 different genetic sequences of the virus from that month during their investigation, the media outlet reported.

Changes in genetic sequencing are usual and take place over time as viruses spread and reproduce.

The discovery of over a dozen genetic sequences of the SARS-COV-2 virus from December, however, might suggest that the coronavirus was circulating earlier than initially thought.

Prof. Edward Holmes, a virologist at the University of Sydney, told CNN: "As there was already genetic diversity in SARS-CoV-2 sequences sampled from Wuhan in December 2019, it is likely that the virus was circulating for a while longer than that month alone."

Embarek declined to reach that conclusion this early on.

This discovery is the latest addition to the growing body of evidence that suggests COVID-19 may have been spreading globally before December.

One analysis by Harvard University, based on Wuhan hospitals' satellite images and search engine traffic for coronavirus symptoms, suggests that the virus may have started circulating there as early as late summer.

Another study from Milan's National Cancer Institute suggests that COVID-19 cases may have been found in Italy in October 2019.

Wuhan's public health officials told the WHO about the illness on December 31, 2019. 

But government records show China's first coronavirus case happened on November 17, 2019, according to an investigation by the South China Morning Post.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Ex-QAnon believer apologizes on-air to CNN’s Anderson Cooper for believing he ‘ate babies’ and drank children’s blood

Anderson Cooper
CNN's Anderson Cooper asked an ex-QAnon believer about his previously-held views.

On Friday night, CNN's Anderson Cooper sat down with a former follower of the disproven QAnon conspiracy theory.

During the two-hour CNN special, Cooper asked the ex-QAnon believer about some of his previously-held views.

In an astonishing moment, Jitarth Jadeja apologized to Cooper for having thought that the CNN host had drunk the blood of children and eaten babies.

"I apologize for thinking that you ate babies," Jadeja said.

Read more: The right-wing conspiracy theories that fueled the Capitol siege are going to instigate more violence.

At the start of the interview, Cooper asked Jadeja: "Did you, at the time, believe that high-level Democrats and celebrities were worshipping Satan and drinking the blood of children?"

"I thought you did that, and I would like to apologize for that right now," he replied.

 

The discredited far-right conspiracy theory alleges that an elusive cabal of Satanic pedophiles, who are thought to be part of the "deep state," work together to undermine former President Donald Trump.

Many of the followers believed that Trump would eventually arrest liberal celebrities and influential Democrats and send them to Guantanamo Bay prison.

After Biden's inauguration, a significant number of QAnon followers began to realize that the conspiracy theory was a "big lie."

Jadeja, who was one of the people who became disillusioned with QAnon, was previously so deep into the conspiracy theory that, he said, he believed that Cooper was "drinking the blood of children."

He was even familiar with suggestions that the CNN host was a "robot."

Explaining why he came to believe these falsehoods, Jadeja said: "It's because Q specifically mentioned you and mentioned you early on. He mentioned you by name."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Melania Trump has hired staff and is looking for an office in Palm Beach to continue her ‘Be Best’ initiative

melania trump florida
Former first lady Melania Trump at the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Former first lady Melania Trump is looking for office space in Palm Beach, Florida, according to CNN.
  • Currently, Trump is working out of Mar-a-Lago and remotely.
  • Her post-White House office will focus on continuing the work of her 'Be Best' iniaitive.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former first lady Melania Trump is setting up a post-White House office in Palm Beach, Florida, according to CNN.

Her focus will be to continue working on the 'Be Best' initiative, a source told the media outlet.

The 'Be Best' campaign, launched in 2018, was Trump's signature initiative during her husband's presidency. It had a broad scope, focusing on cyberbullying, opioid addiction, and children's wellbeing.

Trump faced criticism for promoting the anti-bullying campaign, while her husband used Twitter to unleash no-holds-barred attacks on his critics.

She was also challenged by her own staff about the choice of name. Her senior advisor, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, said that 'Be Best' sounded "illiterate," according to Vanity Fair.

Read more: Mike and Karen Pence are homeless and appear to be couch surfing their way through Indiana

Trump will be joined in the post-White House office by three former advisers, CNN reported.

Hayley D'Antuno, Mary Finzer, and Marcia Kelly will help "maintain" the 'Be Best' initiative, the media outlet said.

Trump is currently working out of the Mar-a-Lago resort and remotely. She is, however, on the lookout for a separate office space nearby, CNN reported.

Former President Donald Trump has also opened an office in Florida to announce his post-presidency plans.

The office has said it will "carry on the agenda of the Trump administration."

Read the original article on Business Insider

Angry response to Hawaii Republican Party’s defence of QAnon supporters from ridicule and its claims they are motivated by a ‘deep love for America’

qanon capitol
Trump supporter and QAnon follower Jake "The Q Shaman" Angeli attends a "Stop the Steal" rally .
  • Hawaii's Republican Party drew criticism for posting a series of tweets about the QAnon Conspiracy.
  • The tweets suggested that QAnon followers should not be mocked because their beliefs were driven by patriotism.
  • Followers of QAnon were involved with the insurrection at the US Capitol building.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Hawaii's Republican Party posted a series of tweets that appeared to defend followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

The eight-part Twitter thread on Friday night, concluded with a call not to ridicule QAnon supporters.

The tweet read: "We should make it abundantly clear - the people who subscribed to the Q fiction, were largely motivated by a sincere and deep love for America. Patriotism and love of County should never be ridiculed."

 

In earlier tweets, Hawaii's GOP described the origins of the conspiracy theory that is thought to have fueled the deadly siege of the US Capitol building.

Read more: The right-wing conspiracy theories that fueled the Capitol siege are going to instigate more violence.

One tweet focused on the conspiracy theory's central belief that a 'deep state' engage in coordinated plots to undermine former President Donald Trump.

It read: "What is the truth? There are highly networked groups of people with specific agendas. Factions and individuals within Government do abuse power - Peter Strozk, Steele Dossier, James Comey, FISA courts, and on."

It continued: "Powerful people do engage in abusive or predatory behavior."

Another tweet said: "People who followed Q don't deserve mockery, the world is a complex place, there are bad actors, injustice, corruption."

The tweets drew criticism from people who felt the Hawaii Republican Party's were attempting to rationalize the disproven QAnon conspiracy theory.

Adherents of the conspiracy were on the front line of the insurrection on January 6.

A QAnon influencer - the 'Q Shaman' - played a highly visible role in the Capitol siege. He has since been arrested and charged with federal crimes.

Ashli Babbitt, who was fatally shot during the attempted coup, also appeared to be a supporter of QAnon.

Some of the conspiracy theory's adherents believed that storming the Capitol could trigger an event that would result in Trump overthrowing and executing anti-Trump elites.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Florida lawmakers say ‘no’ to renaming Palm Beach International after Trump

trump palm beach airport
Former president Donald Trump and Melania Trump at the Palm Beach International Airport on January 20, 2021.
  • Trump has asked advisers about how to get an airport named after him, according to the Daily Beast.
  • A leading Florida Republican then suggested rebranding Florida's Palm Beach International as 'Trump International.'
  • The majority of commissioners in Palm Beach County have rejected the idea, the Sun Sentinel reported.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Local commissioners in Florida have preemptively turned down the opportunity to rename Palm Beach International airport after former president Donald Trump.

A majority of the seven Palm Beach County commissioners have said that they are against the idea, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Five said they would vote against it and the remaining two commissioners did not respond to requests for comment, the paper reported.

This means that the idea is most likely dead in the water before it has even had the opportunity to go to a vote.

Read more: Trump will get the 15th presidential library. He might try to use it to glorify his presidency and air his grievances.

Trump had previously asked advisors about how to get an airport named after him, according to the Daily Beast.

A senior member of Florida's GOP then floated the idea of rebranding Palm Beach International as Trump International Airport.

The commissioners, however, do not believe South Florida is the right place for it.

County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay told the Sun Sentinel: "When people hear [Palm Beach], they envision our beaches, our equestrian sports, and in some cases our agricultural contributions. It is a lifestyle."

She then suggested that 'Trump International' would be "better-suited for his golf courses, not our airport." 

The naming of airports after former presidents aren't unusual.

In Arkansas, there's Clinton National Airport. In Virginia, you can board a plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. 

There's also the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. However, naming a major transportation hub after Trump might not be an easy task.

Robert Watson, a presidential historian at Lynn University, told the Sun Sentinel: "I imagine in a couple of years when there's talk about renaming [things] for him - Trump could be the outlier. He was so controversial and he generates such controversy that it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to touch it."

Read the original article on Business Insider

From Peace Corp volunteer to Capitol insurrectionist: How Thomas Baranyi went from being a quiet, troubled kid to a man who felt betrayed by politics

thomas baranyi
US Capitol protester Thomas Baranyi, 28, speaks to a WUSA reporter on January 6, 2020.
  • Thomas Baranyi was identified by the FBI after appearing in a TV interview where he talks about storming the Capitol.
  • Insider spoke to his former friends and coworker who described him as "quiet" and "disillusioned."
  • Baranyi had a tumultuous New Jersey childhood and was estranged from his friends before joining the Peace Corps.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Thomas Baranyi was part of the mob breaking down the doors into the Senate chamber when Capitol police shot the woman next to him.

She was later identified as Air Force veteran and fervent Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt. She became one of five people who died due to the US Capitol insurrection on January 6.

"It could have been me but she went in first. It was one of us," Baranyi later told a local television reporter, in what has now become a viral interview.

Wearing a New York Giants sweatshirt and a pro-Trump baseball cap, the 28-year-old New Jersey native flashed his hand, bloody from the neck wound that killed Babbitt, in front of the camera as he explained what had happened.

Read more: 'It was degrading': Black Capitol custodial staff talk about what it felt like to clean up the mess left by violent pro-Trump white supremacists

"We tore through the scaffolding, through flash bangs and tear gas, and blitzed our way in through all the chambers just trying to get into Congress or whoever we could get in to and tell them that we need some kind of investigation into this [election]," he told the reporter. "And what ends up happening is that someone might have ended up dead, and that's not the kind of government we can have."

thomas baranyi
Video footage captured the moment Thomas Baranyi stood in front of the Speaker's Lobby of the Capitol as Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt (R) got shot by police.

Baranyi looks pale and in shock. "They don't care," he said, pointing to the Capitol building.

"I mean, they think we're a joke. $2,000 checks was a joke to them. There were people filming us, laughing at us as we walked down the street...It was a joke to them until we got inside and then all of a sudden, guns came out," he added.

Weeks after the deadly incident that shocked the nation, a more thorough portrait of Baranyi, a former Peace Corps veteran, is starting to take shape.

 

A troubled childhood

Baranyi's teenage years were marked by his mother and father's messy divorce, the consequent custody battle, and financial insecurity.

Baranyi's parents - Nancy and Drake - separated in 2005 when he was 13-years-old. Following the separation, Baranyi and his two younger brothers moved into a house in Hamilton, New Jersey, with their mother and grandmother, Elizabeth.

However, according to a witness statement made by Elizabeth in a New Jersey appellate court, Baranyi's mother was kicked out of the home after she was found "running around" with local contractor Jim Hranek.

Thomas's grandmother - then in her mid-70s - temporarily became the three boys' primary caregiver. She described how she was compelled to do so because neither parent was fit to look after children.

thomas baranyi yearbook
A photo of Thomas Baranyi in Hamilton High School West's yearbook.

In her witness statement, Elizabeth cited Nancy and Drake's histories of alcohol addictions and claimed that there were repeated domestic violence incidents between the parents.

Months later, Nancy decided to move with her sons into her lover's home. This was a cause for concern for their father who had discovered that Hranek had been convicted of child endangerment, the Superior Court for New Jersey, Appellate Division, heard.

Hranek had kissed an ex-girlfriend's eight-year-old daughter while undressed and under the influence of drugs. He pled guilty to third-degree endangering the welfare of a child. The incident took place in 2000.

Drake then reignited the custody battle in a bid to prevent Hranek from having unsupervised contact with his children. Hranek was deemed to be at "low risk" of a repeat offense after a psychological assessment.

While the two younger brothers remained at Hranek's home, Thomas decided to live with his father in a "crowded" apartment - according to a legal document. A judge noted that while Thomas's mother had achieved sobriety, his father was likely still abusing drugs and alcohol.

Capitol riot protestors
US Capitol police officers try to stop supporters of President Trump to enter the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Baranyi is not pictured.

Drake, a repairman for New Jersey's Department of Corrections, also struggled with his finances, bankruptcy, and faced his property being repossessed on several occasions.

'From a very young age, he was disillusioned with the government'

Baranyi attended Hamilton High School West, a public school in Mercer County, New Jersey. Two classmates told Insider that he was nerdy and exceptionally quiet.

While there, he was an active member of the Anime and Gaming Club. Amanda Rubi, who was also involved, told Insider that he was part of the "quintessential nerd group." The social circle was also frequently referred to by others as "the island of misfit toys," according to another classmate.

Rubi was shocked to discover that Baranyi had been involved in the Capitol building's siege because he had been so reserved during high school. "He wasn't weird or anything but he just didn't really talk much," she said.

She knew that his parents were getting divorced but she thought, from the outside looking in, that "they seemed like a relatively normal family."

Baranyi's childhood best friend, Patrick Marrazzo, saw a more combative side to Baranyi. "He was a confrontational kid," he told Insider. "He even bit a couple of guys." He added that the older kids bullied him. 

"He liked aggression," Marrazzo continued.

This, he said, prompted Baranyi to join the school's varsity football team. "It was an outlet for him. He was disgruntled," he added.

Baranyi had always been interested in politics

Baranyi also seethed with political resentment from a young age. "He was disillusioned with the government," his best friend said.

Marrazzo and Baranyi frequently chatted politics around the lunch table, in the school cafeteria. The discussions - taking place during the final years of President George W. Bush's second term - focused on economic issues and the Iraq War, Marrazzo said.

While these political conversations were animated, they were never radical. "It wasn't anything nuts at the time," he recalled.

Read more: Trump allies are slamming the president and likening the mob he unleashed on the US Capitol to authoritarian countries

It was only after Baranyi left high school that his political views grew more extreme. Marrazzo said that, in 2011, Baranyi told him that he thought 9/11 was staged and part of a false flag operation in a Facebook message.

Shortly after, Baranyi told friends about his plans to go off the radar. "He seemed like he was in the early stages of almost being a doomsday prepper," Marrazzo explained.

A few months after this conversation, Baranyi deleted his Facebook and stopped speaking to his high school friends. He has not been in touch since 2011, said Marrazzo.

After high school, Baranyi attended Mercer Community College. He was academically successful and in his second year, he made it on the Dean's List for academic excellence.

After completing community college, Baranyi was then accepted onto a highly-regarded teacher training course at The College of New Jersey in Trenton. While there, he had a keen interest in world history.

In 2016, as part of the college's celebration of student achievements, he was asked to present a talk on nationalism.

"He was quick to anger"

It was in college where Thomas Baranyi met physics major Rachel Fury. According to a Facebook post by his father, the couple got engaged in September 2017.

However, there is no evidence that a wedding ended up taking place and a former colleague of Baranyi told Insider that the relationship didn't survive. Fury did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Fresh out of college, Baranyi decided to join the Peace Corps in Albania. The 28-year-old worked with a team of international volunteers in a government-led youth project from 2018 to 2019.

thomas baranyi marines parris island
A United States Marine Corps drill instructor watches recruits on the parade deck during boot camp March 8, 2007 at Parris Island, South Carolina.

A former colleague of his, who did not want to be named for this article, told Insider that the job required them to teach English to young Albanians - a task Baranyi seemed to be engaged in and enjoyed.

But signs of hostility towards other members of the team quickly emerged as the former colleague, who described their relationship with Baranyi as "sibling-like," said that his "standoffish" and "very opinionated" behavior made it increasingly difficult to work with him.

"He reacted very strongly - negatively - to many things, some innocuous, some rightfully upsetting, but it was almost always an overreaction. He was quick to anger," the coworker told Insider.

Read more: Ahead of deadly Capitol riot, Trump administration failed to follow the normal security playbook used for events like the Super Bowl and the State of the Union

The former colleague also said that while other volunteers were eager to learn about Albania's culture and values, Baranyi had no interest in mingling with locals.

Although previous reports state the Baranyi was discharged from the Peace Corps, this coworker claims that he finished his two years of service.

After the Peace Corps, Baranyi enlisted in the Marine Corps in July 2020, but left active duty before completing entry-level training on Parris Island in South Carolina, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps Training and Education Command confirmed to Insider.

According to his former Peace Corps coworker, who remained in touch with him on Instagram, Baranyi was looking into getting back into teaching.

Months later, he resurfaced on television standing in front of the US Capitol.

Baranyi's arrest

In the viral interview, Baranyi stated his full name, which made it an easy task for the FBI to identify him.

Last Tuesday, Baranyi was arrested by the FBI and charged with trespassing into the Capitol building and interrupting Congress's work.

Read more: Secret Service protection would follow Trump if he goes to prison, former agents say

His bail was set at $100,000 but he was later released on an unsecured bond.

In an appearance in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, the judge ordered Baranyi's release pending trial on the condition that he turn over his passport. A lawyer for the US government said that he is considered a potential flight risk due to his extensive travel abroad.

Baranyi has also been told to remain in New Jersey and stay away from DC, except for court hearings.

His next hearing is on February 3. If convicted, he could face fines or several years in prison.

Last month, Baranyi's estranged father, Drake, posted photos on Facebook of Baranyi's 2017 college graduation and wrote: "Be on the lookout for this kid, my oldest son..."

Drake Baranyi did not respond to a request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden apologizes to National Guard chief after 5,000 soldiers had to reportedly sleep in a DC parking garage with only one bathroom

troops biden national guard
Troops sleeping in the Capitol complex on January 17, 2021.
  • President Joe Biden called the National Guard's chief on Friday to issue an apology.
  • Earlier this week, photos circulated on social media of troops sleeping on the floor of parking lots.
  • National Guard members were forced to vacate the Capitol on Thursday, according to Politico.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Joe Biden has called the chief of the National Guard Bureau to apologize after images circulated online of troops sleeping in a parking garage.

Biden also asked what could be done to help these National Guard members, the BBC reported.

Following the Capitol insurrection on January 6, roughly 25,000 troops were deployed to Washington DC to bolster Biden's inauguration security.

During breaks between shifts, these troops were previously finding locations inside the Capitol complex to sleep.

Read more: Biden's inauguration was held in a sad, military-occupied DC. Never forget how Trump got us here.

However, National Guard members were ordered to vacate congressional grounds and take their breaks elsewhere on Thursday, according to Politico.

This resulted in thousands of troops choosing to nap outdoors or in public garages, reported Intelligencer.

 

The decision has since been reversed. A joint statement from the US National Guard and US Capitol Police on Friday said that off-duty troops would now be housed in "appropriate spaces," according to the BBC.

Nonetheless, the viral images of National Guard members lying on the concrete floor of a parking garage drew widespread condemnation.

Both Democrats and Republicans have demanded a swift investigation.

 

The incident is now being investigated by the Senate Rules Committee, Sen. Roy Blunt told Politico.

The ad-hoc sleeping arrangements put troops in close contact with moving cars and exhaust fumes, soldiers told The Washington Post.

It also increased the risk of catching COVID-19. Hundreds of troops have already tested positive since the siege of the US Capitol building, according to Politico.

One garage - used by up to 5,000 troops- had only one bathroom, the media outlet reported.

It also lacked internet reception and had just one electrical outlet, Politico said.

On Friday, new First Lady Jill Biden took a detour to deliver chocolate chip cookies to National Guard members. 

She said this was to thank them for keeping the Biden family safe.

Of the 25,000 National Guard troops remaining near the Capitol, almost 15,000 troops are expected to return to their respective states this week.

Up to 7,000 may be asked to remain in Washington, DC until mid-March, according to Military.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider