It’s hard to forget the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection, as the date is in the name. One might think activists looking to pay tribute to that fateful day might plan accordingly and schedule their big event for January. But this is America, where we can hold rallies on any date we want with the proper permitting — and so there is a “Jan. 6 Solidarity Truth Press Conference” scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022 in Washington D.C.
The rally is supposed to happen at the “corner of Constitution Ave NW and First St. NW (North of Reflecting Pool).” But it’s unclear what, precisely, will happen there. Neither the flier nor the conference website discloses its organizers, or declares a particular purpose. There is a brief description calling the rally the “biggest J6 event to date” and promising “over 20 powerful speakers confirmed!!”
One might argue that Jan. 6, 2021 was the “biggest J6 event to date,” but that’s semantics. Who are these 20-plus powerful speakers? There’s Dinesh D’Souza, the right-wing commentator who got fired as president of Christian college for allegedly having an affair in a South Carolina Comfort Suites in 2012 and then got indicted for campaign finance fraud in 2014 (Trump later pardoned him) before moving on to call the Parkland massacre survivors “phony & inauthentic,” back alleged teen-dater Roy Moore, and regularly tweet the N-word. Jim Hoft, founder of The Gateway Pundit, will also be there. But some of the other “heroes” — like “Richard Citizen Journalist” and “Johnny Tabacco” — are notably less well-known. Here is everything you need to know about these heavy-hitters.
Johnny Tabacco, who goes by “John Tabacco” almost everywhere else on the internet, is by far the best person on this list, a giant among men doing their best Paul Sorvino impersonations. He calls himself a “Wall Street Veteran” and “Fintech Investor,” and he’s spent much of the past two decades larping as one on cable news — mostly on Fox, but more recently on NewsMax, where he hosts a show called Wise Guys. As you might imagine, Tabacco is Italian, and really leans into the made man bit; here is a video of him, surrounded by massive guards, interviewing Rudy Giuliani over clams in an Italian restaurant.
Here’s another video of him explaining crypto. As you might also imagine, Tabacco is from Staten Island, where he lobbied locals to declare the borough an “autonomous zone” during the pandemic. He ran for comptroller last year only to get arrested for refusing to wear a mask in the Board of Elections’ Staten Island headquarters. He’s gotten mixed up in politics before that; back in 2010, when Tabacco was running for city council, he threw a birthday party attended by some classic New York figures: Curtis Sliwa, Rev. Al Sharpton (who at the time called Johnny T his “friend and brother”), and Biz Markie. What a town.
Professor David Clements
Until the Capitol siege, Clements — a failed Senate candidate in the 2014 GOP primaries with an assault conviction for fighting a bar doorman in his teens — was an assistant professor at New Mexico State University, teaching law in the business college. On Jan. 6, according to the Washington Post, Clements was in “his cabin in the mountains of New Mexico with his wife and three young children,” when he learned Congress still planned to validate the election — at which point Clements “ran outside and fell on his knees, next to the fire pit,” started “weeping,” and prayed “God save us, please, please save our country.”
Clements then got into YouTube, posting videos about election fraud, and spent months on a solo tour lobbying “local leaders not to certify election results.” That got him speaking appearances on Fox and Steve Bannon’s podcast, as well as dinners with Trump himself and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. His activism did also get him fired from his tenure-track position for violating the school’s mask and vaccination policy, at one point “leading an anti-mask march through a craft market.” Clements might have waited a little longer to go rogue, as it is borderline impossible to find a tenure-track job in American academia right now. But fortunately one of the other “powerful speakers,” Coloradan podcaster Joe Oltmann, started a fundraiser for Clements claiming he had been “cancelled [sic] by evil people who would like to forever silence you.” It raised over $305,000.
Fans of the aforementioned podcaster may recognize him from his far-right podcast, Conservative Daily Podcast, or maybe from his appearances on TV programs like Frontline: Plot to Overturn the Election, The Deep Rig, and Mike Lindell’s Lindell-TV, in a segment called “Joe Oltmann Exposes Eric Coomer of Dominion Voting Systems.” As you might gather from those titles, Oltmann is a big booster of the election fraud conspiracy — so big, in fact, that Axios ran a piece about him last year called “Colorado activist played big role in Donald Trump’s ‘big lie.’”
Oltmann made a name for himself organizing anti-lockdown protests in Colorado, and calling for politicians he despised to be executed. But he got his big break before the election, when he claimed he’d listened in on an “antifa” phone call where he heard Dominion security director Eric Coomer state that he could rig the vote in Biden’s favor. This was, obviously, unsupported by any evidence, but it became, per Axios, “the basis” of the Trump campaign’s election fraud claims. Shortly after the 2020 election, Coomer sued Oltmann, the Trump campaign, and several other conservative media figures for defamation. In May, a district court judge denied the defendants’ attempt to have the case dismissed. Maybe he should start his own online fundraiser.
Griffin is the founder of “Cowboys for Trump,” a group of Trump supporters who took Bette Midler’s advice to heart and channeled their political activism by riding around at rallies on horseback. It’s unclear how they vetted members’ cowboy credentials, but Griffin’s entail being a former rodeo cowboy at Disneyland Paris. Logistics may not be precisely Griffin’s style, given that the New Mexico Attorney General filed a criminal complaint against him this spring alleging he’d “willfully and knowingly” ignored regulations in the state’s Campaign Reporting Act, by failing to register “Cowboys for Trump” as a PAC. Griffin pleaded not guilty, then filed a lawsuit to have the law deemed unconstitutional (the latter case was dismissed in both District Court and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals). The A.G.’s case will proceed in December.
More importantly, Griffin was arrested on Jan. 6 for trespassing. According to CNN, Griffin spent months delivering speeches that compared “Stop the Steal” to a “war” to keep Trump in office, then showed up on the day of — all while serving as a county commissioner in Otero, New Mexico, since Jan. 2019. He was convicted for misdemeanor trespassing in March.
Griffin’s sentence, per a federal judge, was 14 days with time served — meaning the two weeks he’d already spent in jail — and a year of supervised release. Unfortunately, Griffin will have a hard time getting back to work. Earlier this month, a New Mexico judge had him removed from office as county commissioner, on the grounds that participating in the riots violated the “Disqualification Clause” of the 14th Amendment, which bars officials from insurrecting. The order was the first use of the clause to bar a public official from office since 1869. Kind of a maverick move from Cuoy.
Richard Citizen Journalist
“Richard Citizen Journalist,” whose real name is Richard Potcner, doesn’t have much of an online footprint in traditional media, but he does have a lengthy court record — including an arrest in D.C. last April, where he was charged as a fugitive of justice, for weapons possession in Pennsylvania, and for violating probation in Maryland, where he also had a domestic violence order in 2019. The good news is that he had to give up his firearms as part of the order, so he likely won’t be bringing any to the rally.
Potcner gained a following among conspiracy theorists during lockdown, according to the Daily Beast, for “investigating” hospitals to prove the pandemic was fake, mostly by filming empty parking lots. He has a sizable following of 243,000 on Telegram, where his bio reads, “Eyes On Covering DC and Beyond.” That seems to mostly entail posting photo carousels of newspaper headlines and selling melatonin supplements under the name “Citizen Armor” for the “exclusive price” of $77.77. As of late, Potcner is somewhat more mum about his old obsession, QAnon, but the citizen reporter was boosting “The Great QAwakening” as recently as November of 2021.
Like the other speakers, Potcner is a devoted Trump supporter; he told one conservative podcast that in 2020, whenTrump came down with coronavirus, Potcner “camped outside” Walter Reed Medical Center “for days.” After the Jan. 6 riots, Potcner posted a video claiming he’d started an “open tab” at a local D.C. restaurant called Pete’s Diner for National Guard members guarding the capitol. For months after the fact, he solicited donations on Telegram to cover the costs — until the arrangement went sour and Pete’s Diner’s owner claimed Potcner had stiffed her $10,000. According to Sommer, some ex-fans think he conned them. But perhaps he’s turned a new leaf for the Jan. 6 Solidarity Truth Press Conference.
Contra most people on this list, Cara Castronuova was once good at something; she was a nationally ranked boxer who won two Golden Gloves at Madison Square Garden. She also trained contestants on The Biggest Loser, which is why she has a page on biggestloser.fandom.com — and not, as I initially thought, because of everything else about her. The flier calls Castronuova an “investigative journalist,” but it’s unclear what kind of journalism she’s getting up to. Per her website, she is more of a “media personality,” who has appeared in both Women’s Health and The National Enquirer. As the latter might suggest, she is also a Trump fan and lockdown protester, who did a short-lived press tour for her pandemic movement “Liberate New York,” and is now running for New York State Assembly. The nine-year incumbent is a Democrat, so unclear how good her chances are, but Castronuova has Rudy Giuliani on her side. She’s not a newcomer to the Jan. 6 speaking circuit: she helped organize last year’s “Justice for J6” rally, which also took place in September.