In a court filing last Friday, Congressman Mo Brooks laid blame, at least partly, on former President Donald Trump for Brooks’ fiery speech at a Jan. 6 rally, at which Brooks told the crowd it was time to “take names and kick ass.” The filing claimed Brooks would not have been speaking at the rally if not for Trump’s invitation and said the content of the speech was cleared by the White House.
That filing came in response to a lawsuit filed by Rep. Eric Swalwell against Brooks and three others, including Trump, for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in five deaths — including the death of a Capitol Police officer — and saw lawmakers fleeing for their lives as rioters roamed through the House and Senate chambers and rummaged through lawmakers’ offices.
Thanks to his speech, his involvement in the planning of the Trump rally and his insistence on pushing the “Big Lie” claim of massive voting fraud, Brooks has been a central figure in the national outrage over what was one of the ugliest scenes in the history of the country.
Brooks has run from the heat, offering an ever-changing list of excuses and explanations and blaming an odd assortment of people. Here’s how his story has shifted and changed over the past six months.
- Antifa did it: The day after the Capitol attack, Brooks began pushing the bogus claim that antifa or some other “leftists” were responsible. His claim, which he tweeted, was this: “Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.” Of course, this fiction has been debunked numerous times, including by the FBI and by many of the rioters who were later arrested. Even right-wing media outlets pushed back on the absurd claim and Brooks soon after stopped saying it.
- That’s right, I said it: Two days after the antifa lie, on Jan. 9, Brooks tried a new tactic — defiance: “I make no apology for doing my absolute best to inspire patriotic Americans to not give up on our country and to fight back against anti-Christian socialists in the 2022 and 2024 elections,” Brooks wrote to AL.com in a text message. The defiance would be short-lived.
- I was talking about Democrats: During his defiant period, Brooks also landed on another talking point that he leaned on a few times: Claiming that his reference to an “ass” in his “kick ass” rally comments was referring to Democrats. The Democratic Party’s mascot is a donkey. Brooks claimed in the text to AL.com, and later in a lengthy statement rebutting a Democratic censure resolution, that he meant only that he wanted to beat Democrats — “kick ass” — at the polls. This angle would also be short-lived.
- Proud Boys did it: In an abrupt 180, a month after proclaiming that he was proud to inspire “patriots” to act, Brooks claimed in a C-SPAN interview that the insurrection really wasn’t that bad — “… if you had 20 or 30 al-Qaeda suicidal types in there, it could have been a horrible scene,” he said — and that good MAGAs had been infiltrated by bad MAGAs. Specifically, Brooks said the Proud Boys, Boogaloo Bois and Oath Keepers were involved and that the attack was planned well in advance. He didn’t mention his reported role in planning the rally, but he did admit that antifa played no role.
- Those fools did it: Later in March, Brooks told AL.com that the attack wasn’t his fault, but was instead “fools” who stormed the Capitol. Gone were the references to antifa and leftists. Brooks was no longer proud and defiant about his speech. In late March, Brooks said the rioters “hurt the Republican Party” and said “those fools” disrupted a debate about the election results. In reality, a group of people angered by repeated lies fed to them by Brooks and others temporarily disrupted the certification of the Electoral College results.
- My constituents did it: In a court filing responding to Swalwell’s lawsuit, Brooks said his involvement in the Jan. 6 rally and riot was merely his way of best representing his constituents. Brooks claimed in the filing that he was only doing his job and representing “the will of my constituents” when he spread lies about voter fraud and encouraged the Jan. 6 mob to “kick ass” and be ready to fight and shed blood like our founders.
- Trump did it: In the same court filing, Brooks also blamed the former president for his fiery speech. Brooks said in the court documents that he never would have been at that rally speaking had it not been for an invitation from the Trump White House. He also said that White House officials reviewed the contents of his speech. So, really, it was their fault for asking him to say what they knew he was going to say.
But one thing is for sure: Mo Brooks wants you to know that the Jan. 6 riot, which wasn’t really all that bad, was definitely something he was proud of until those fools messed it up, but if you didn’t like it, then it was definitely your fault or antifa’s fault or Trump’s fault. But in no way was it Mo Brooks’ fault.