A federal grand jury investigating the former president’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election has subpoenaed a small group that played a huge role in the events of Jan. 6, 2021.
The little-known group Women for America First and its activist founders were key facilitators of Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 Ellipse rally who appear to have had inside information on Trump’s secret plans for the day. They had previously organized bus tours and other protests that spread baseless stolen election propaganda.
To date, transparency has largely eluded the group. Organized as a “dark money” entity, Women for America First is not required to disclose detailed donor information. The IRS does not show any tax returns for the group, which could disclose details of its finances and inner workings. The agency has struggled with processing backlogs, and did not respond to inquiries from Grid.
Women for America First did not respond to inquiries for this story, including a request to produce copies of its tax returns as required by law.
The activists, Amy and Kylie Jane Kremer, founded Women for America First in 2019. The mother-daughter duo has remarkable ties to key Trumpworld figures, including former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, who has reportedly helped fund the group’s activities. The Kremers, Meadows and Lindell did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
After Trump’s election loss, the Kremers swiftly emerged as the most effective propagators of the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from Trump. Amy Kremer, a self-described “extremist MAGA Republican,” confirmed her group received a grand jury subpoena in a tweet Saturday.
In addition to the Jan. 6 Trump rally, the Kremers and their group produced smaller rallies in the nation’s capital in November and December 2020, also focused on baseless claims of a stolen election. The group also organized “March for Trump” bus tours to boost the president’s stolen election claims.
Harmeet Dhillon, the group’s lawyer, confirmed that the grand jury subpoena seeks information on communications the group had from October 2020 through January 2021, as well as information about the Jan. 6 rally.
Failure to report
A political action committee established by Amy has neglected to file required reporting to the Federal Election Commission, resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in fines and an enforcement referral.
The PAC, Women Vote Smart, has not filed required disclosures since January 2020, according to FEC records. The group faces over $65,000 in fines, and the FEC has referred the cases to the Treasury Department for enforcement and collection.
Women Vote Smart is a “repeat offender,” said Stuart McPhail, senior litigation counsel at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, an ethics watchdog. “Unfortunately, these automatic fines are one of the few forms of enforcement remaining at the FEC, which regularly deadlocks on proceeding with any more serious violations.”
Such oversights may be common for groups run by political newcomers, but that wouldn’t describe the Kremers. Amy in particular has an extensive background in far-right Republican organizing and a Rolodex to match. She’s no stranger to election finance headaches, either: An abortive run for Congress in 2016 collapsed when her staff reportedly resigned en masse because she couldn’t pay her bills.
Amy’s daughter, Kylie, brought an apparent knack for social media to their efforts. A “Stop the Steal” Facebook group Kylie created became one of the fastest-growing in Facebook’s history, according to the New York Times. It added 320,000 users in less than 22 hours before Facebook shut it down for inciting violence.
No strangers to scrutiny
The Justice Department is only the most recent entity to train its focus on the Kremers’ activities surrounding the 2020 election. The duo and their operations have previously received subpoenas from the House Jan. 6 committee and inquiries from the Federal Elections Commission.
Women for America First has denied any involvement in the U.S. Capitol siege that immediately followed its rally, spurred on by rally speakers including Trump himself. But public reporting and information released by the Jan. 6 committee appears to call those denials into question.
According to material released by the Jan. 6 committee, two days before the rally and Capitol siege, Kylie Jane Kremer texted Lindell that Trump was secretly planning to move the rally crowd from the Ellipse to the Capitol. “This stays only between us, we are having a second stage at the Supreme Court again after the Ellipse. POTUS is going to have us march there/the Capitol,” Kremer texted. “It can not get out about the second stage.” She indicated she was concerned about getting in trouble with the National Park Service. The National Park permit explicitly disallowed an “organized march.”
Kylie and Amy’s rhetoric promoting their Jan. 6 rally appeared to mimic Trump’s inflammatory style. In a quote tweet of Trump’s now infamous “Be there, will be wild!” tweet, Kylie wrote, “The calvary [sic] is coming, Mr. President! JANUARY 6th | Washington DC.” The tweet is still pinned to the top of her Twitter profile.
“Stop the Steal” bus tour
The Kremers’ “stolen election” activism began almost immediately after state election officials reported vote totals and news organizations announced Trump had lost the 2020 election.
The Kremers organized a 20-city bus tour, which featured a rotating mix of speakers spreading stolen election claims, often with incendiary and even outright violent rhetoric. One speaker, Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin, later participated in the Jan. 6 riot, was convicted on trespassing charges stemming from his involvement, and recently removed as a New Mexico county commissioner because of his role in the insurrection.
BuzzFeed News found that at each stop, speakers would use increasingly threatening language, invoking revolution and armed rebellion. “When they come for my kids with this nontested covid vaccine, I’m gonna give them an insurance policy courtesy of a Glock on their forehead. And I don’t wanna do that, guys. I’m not inciting violence,” Cordie Williams, wearing a “1776 Forever Free” shirt, told a crowd in Wisconsin just a month before the Capitol siege at a Women for America First event.
The Kremers have long ties to key Jan. 6 figures, including Meadows, whom Amy reportedly helped win election to Congress in 2012.
After the Ellipse rally, many attendees followed suggestions by Trump and other speakers to descend on the Capitol. Once there, violence broke out almost immediately, engulfing the historic campus in bloodshed, chemical spray and panic.
The Kremers appear not to have followed the crowd but instead retreated to their suite at the Willard hotel, where they and their guests reportedly noshed on room service and sipped Champagne while watching TV coverage of law enforcement struggling to regain control of the Capitol complex.
“Cheese & Charcuterie should be here at 6PM and dinner around 7PM,” Amy reportedly texted fellow rally organizers around 5:30 that evening.
Thanks to Lillian Barkley for copy editing this article.