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Former McCarthy staffer: Brooks “cheering on” from inside the Capitol on Jan. 6

The former top aide to the House minority leader said he witnessed Brooks cheer from inside a secure location during the deadly attack.

Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama., speaks Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington, at a rally in support of President Donald Trump called the "Save America Rally." (AP PHOTO/JACQUELYN MARTIN)

A former top aide to U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that Congressman Mo Brooks was cheering on the attack from inside a secure location. 

Ryan O’Toole, who served as McCarthy’s cloakroom director at the time of the Jan. 6 attack, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday that there was a range of emotions from those in Congress as the attack was underway. 

“Members were fearful for their lives. Republican members themselves, men crying in the cloakroom for their safety,” O’Toole said. “And so as we escaped the chamber, to what sounded like gunshots, to the secure location, I think people were still scared.” 

“Members and staff were still scared and not sure what was happening, and so you did have some members express a different view. One member, Mo Brooks, for example, was glad. He was cheering on the fact that the 117th Congress had started this way, and that was much to the dismay of others in the room and certainly, I think does not carry the sentiment that the day has today,” O’Toole said. 

Brooks in a statement to APR on Friday morning denied he was cheering during the attack. 

Brooks is facing increasing pressure as more about his role in what transpired on Jan. 6 comes out. Ali Alexander, the key figure behind Stop the Steal, the entity responsible for the Stop the Steal rally outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that turned deadly, has said Brooks was one of three Republican congressmen who helped him plan the rally. 

“So I want to let you guys know how we’re responding, because I was the person who came up with the January 6th idea, with Congressman Gosar, Congressman Mo Brooks and then-Congressman Andy Biggs,” Alexander said in the live stream video, which was archived by Jason Paladino, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight. 

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“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress, while they were voting, so that who we couldn’t lobby, we could change the hearts and the minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside,” he said.

Brooks’s spokesman told APR in January that Brooks did not plan the Jan. 6 rally with Alexander. A Rolling Stone article cited two people who helped organize the rally and other demonstrations who said Brooks or his staff helped organize the Jan. 6 rally and a series of demonstrations in several states that occurred between the election and the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the capitol. 

In response to the Rolling Stone article, Brooks told on Oct. 25 that he could not say whether his staff interacted with two Rolling Stone sources because he had not spoken to them about it.

“Quite frankly, I’d be proud of them if they did help organize a First Amendment rally to protest voter fraud and election theft,” Brooks said of his staff, reported. 

Brooks gave a speech at that Jan. 6 rally near the Capitol in which he told the crowd it was time to start “taking down names and kicking ass.” Brooks was wearing body armor when he gave that speech. 

“If you’re talking about someone participating in meetings, setting the agenda, raising the money, I don’t know of anything that suggests my staff as doing that stuff,” Brooks told The Montgomery Advertiser on Oct. 25. 

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Alexander in December gave testimony, text messages and documents to the Jan. 6 committee investigating the attack, and in a lawsuit Alexander field seeking to block the committee from gaming access to his full phone records Alexander said he “had a few phone conversations” with Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, texted Brooks and spoke to Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Arizona. 

A Brooks’s spokesman 27 days after Brooks got a text message from Alexander told APR the congressman had  “no recollection of ever communicating in any way with whoever Ali Alexander is.” 

Brooks in December, after Alexander released the text message to the committee, admitted he’d communicated with Alexander, and released the text himself. 

Asked by APR to clarify the January statement that Brooks had “no recollection of ever communicating in any way with whoever Ali Alexander is” Clay Mills, Brooks’s spokesman, in a message to APR explained that Brooks simply forgot about the text from Alexander, sent 27 days prior to APR’s inquiry. 

Brooks gave a speech at that Jan. 6 rally near the Capitol in which he told the crowd it was time to start “taking down names and kicking ass.” Brooks was wearing body armor when he gave that speech. 

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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