On Thursday, Elon Musk vowed to reinstate the “X” account of Nick Fuentes, a notorious white nationalist, and has now made good on his promise. 

Fuentes gained infamy when he attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and has compiled an extensive dossier of extremist activity since then. Fuentes’s “America First” movement, dubbed the “Groypers,” is built on racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and misogyny. Fuentes regularly makes news for his calls to upend American democracy with Christian Nationalist-fueled violence. But there is one aspect of Fuentes’s career that deserves ongoing scrutiny, especially as Donald Trump vies for the presidency once again: Fuentes incited people prior to and during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. And he used Twitter, now known as “X,” as well as other social media platforms, to do it. Now that Fuentes’s X account has been restored, will Musk allow him to do so once again?

We scrutinized Fuentes’s social media presence while working for the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol. The committee’s findings can be found in Chapters 6 and 8 of its final report. Below is a summary, drawn in part from those chapters, as well as additional video footage, of the role Fuentes played as an instigator.

Trump supporters should “storm every state capitol.”  

Fuentes was a key ideologue in the “Stop the Steal” movement, a coalition of rightwing extremists and conspiracy theorists who traveled the country in late 2020 in response to Trump’s lies about the election. Roger Stone, Trump’s longest-serving political advisor, first coined the phrase “Stop the Steal” in 2016. At the time, Stone used it to describe the effort to prevent Trump from securing the Republican nomination. In 2020, the “Stop the Steal” campaign was chiefly led by Alex Jones, the notorious InfoWars conspiracy theorist, and Ali Alexander, “a rightwing provocateur.” Stone has been a frequent guest and co-host on Jones’ InfoWars. Alexander has also worked closely with Stone.

Rightwing militias, white and Christian nationalists, QAnon adherents and other anti-government extremists turned out in force for “Stop the Steal” events. Members and leaders of groups that later attacked the U.S. Capitol – such as the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters – were all well-represented at “Stop the Steal” rallies across the country, as well as at associated events. We found that several of these protests, especially those in Washington, D.C. and Georgia, were crucial precursors to the events of January 6th.

Fuentes and his white nationalist “Groypers” helped lead this charge. 

“Stop the Steal” events were often held in conjunction with other pro-Trump rallies, including the “Million MAGA March” and the Christian Nationalist “Jericho March” in Washington, D.C. Fuentes spoke at these events in November and December 2020, fusing election conspiracy theories with apocalyptic Christian nationalist beliefs. During the Million MAGA March on Nov. 14, 2020, for instance, Fuentes encouraged his followers to “storm every State capitol until January 20, 2021, until President Trump is inaugurated for four more years.”  He framed their conflict as one in which the “satanic globalist elites” were pitted “versus us, the people of Christ.” 

Days later, between Nov. 18 and 21, the “Stop the Steal” coalition held rallies in Atlanta, Georgia. Fuentes announced on Twitter that he would be speaking daily outside the Georgia State Capitol Building.

On Nov. 18, Fuentes stood alongside Alex Jones and Ali Alexander as Alexander told the crowd they should “storm the capitol” in Atlanta. Indeed, the trio then led a small band of people into the state capitol. The event was not violent, but the symbolism was clear: the “Stop the Steal” movement’s leaders wanted to use the presence of their assembled mob to prevent Georgia’s elected officials from certifying the vote.

Fuentes and his comrades continued to throw rhetorical bombs in Atlanta in the days that followed. On Nov. 20, Fuentes vowed that he and his followers would not leave the state capitol’s grounds unless Georgia Governor Brian Kemp refused to certify the election’s results. (Trump was pressuring state officials across the swing states not to certify the election’s results at the time.)  Fuentes unfurled a string of false accusations, claiming that “thousands” of ballots cast for Trump were mysteriously turning up across the state. The “politicians are lying,” he claimed. Fuentes then added an ominous remark: “We’ve been in front of the state capitol, maybe we’re trying the wrong approach. Clearly it seems the politicians don’t fear us. The [Georgia] secretary of state does not fear these demonstrations. Maybe we should start showing up to their houses now!” Fuentes went on to argue that the crowd should amass at Governor Kemp’s home, even though his children lived there, to demand that the governor deal with (non-existent) election fraud.

Fuentes continued to rile up crowds in the weeks that followed. During the Dec. 12 rally in Washington, Fuentes declared: “In the first Million MAGA March we promised that if the GOP would not do everything in their power to keep Trump in office, then we would destroy the GOP!” He then led the crowd in chants of “Destroy the GOP!” That night, the streets of the capital were roiled by violence. According to the New Yorker, Fuentes told his followers, who had gathered in Washington’s Freedom Plaza, that they should be “prepared” for revolution. “Our Founding Fathers would get in the streets, and they would take this country back by force if necessary,” Fuentes said. “And that is what we must be prepared to do.”

Trump was undeterred by the unrest unfolding blocks from the White House. On the contrary, a week later, on Dec. 19, 2020, he announced on Twitter that there would be a big “protest” on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump wrote: “Be there, will be wild!” Fuentes followed up on his own Twitter account, announcing: “I will return to Washington DC to rally for President Trump on January 6th!” 

On Jan. 4, 2020, Fuentes argued during a live stream that Trump’s supporters had “no leverage” over state legislators. He then intimated that the legislators should be killed if they did not assist Trump in overturning the election’s results. Fuentes asked: “What can you and I do to a state legislator, besides kill them?” He quickly tried to walk back his comment – at least in part. “Although we should not do that,” Fuentes added. “I am not advising that, but I mean, what else can you do, right?”

 “Break down the barriers and disregard the police.”

Fuentes continued to incite his followers and others during the attack. One online video shows him speaking through a bullhorn from the Peace Monument, which is just outside the Capitol. Earlier in the afternoon, Proud Boys and others initiated the attack on the Capitol’s security perimeter from that very location. Fuentes spoke as rioters were already swarming the building, amplifying Trump’s lies about Vice President Pence. Fuentes shouted:

We just heard that Mike Pence is not going to reject any fraudulent elector votes! That’s right, you heard it here first: Mike Pence has betrayed the United States of America. Mike Pence has betrayed the President and he has betrayed the people of the United States of America — and we will never ever forget!

Of course, the only  “fraudulent elector votes” were the ones knowingly sent by the Trump Campaign and its allies to give Pence an excuse to throw the election to Trump. But Trump repeatedly told his followers, including during his own speech on Jan. 6, that Pence had the authority to either reject Biden’s certified electoral votes from seven states (a move that was intended to hand Trump the presidency), or send the electoral votes “back” to state legislators for further investigation. Fuentes repeated these false claims as the rioters battled law enforcement officers, some of them chanting “hang Mike Pence.”

Another online clip shows Fuentes encouraging rioters to storm the U.S. Capitol. Fuentes shouted through his bullhorn: “Keep moving toward the Capitol! It appears we are taking the Capitol … Keep marching! And don’t relent, never relent!”  Fuentes yelled: “Break down the barriers and disregard the police… These politicians don’t represent us. They betray us, and now we are forcibly evicting them from the People’s House. They should live in fear of the American people, who they have betrayed over and over again.” 

Fuentes compared the assault on the Capitol to the first American revolution. “We are witnessing, potentially, the beginning of a second American revolution,” Fuentes said. He added that this second revolution should take place even if it became violent. “And this revolution can take place, and I hope, bloodlessly, or it can take place another way. But either way this American revolution must take place because our sovereignty, our constitution, and our country [have] been stolen from us!”  

“Trump supporters are the only people in this country who back the blue, but the blue does not back us!” Fuentes raged from the Peace Monument, noting that the police had fired tear gas at the pro-Trump rioters. “So we’re done backing them!” At another point, Fuentes celebrated as the rioters overran police lines and broke into the building: “And look at that, we have taken over the Capitol building!…Say goodbye, say goodbye to the Capitol Police!”

In another clip, Fuentes told the mob not to leave until Trump was “inaugurated”  president. Fuentes crowed: “We have just got word that they have stopped the vote of the electoral college in Congress!” He then added, “I say that we should not leave this Capitol until Donald Trump is inaugurated president!”

“Don’t let them dissuade you. I see no reason why anybody should be leaving these Capitol grounds anytime soon,” Fuentes said in still another clip. “I don’t care if the police come in. They’ll have to come in with tanks and fighter jets … Because this is the United States of America. I would rather have my sovereignty and my freedom. Give me liberty or give me death,” Fuentes said, to a crowd that shouted back, “liberty or death!”

“We are going to storm the Capitol right now! Come with me!” Fuentes said on his bullhorn while pointing at the building.

“The Capitol Siege was fucking awesome…”

Fuentes used Twitter to celebrate the attack on the U.S. Capitol. The day after, he tweeted: “The Capitol Siege was fucking awesome and I’m not going to pretend it wasn’t.”  In a second tweet, Fuentes wrote: “For a brief time yesterday the US Capital [sic] was once again occupied by The American People, before the regime wrested back control.” 

Fuentes has not been charged with committing any crimes on Jan. 6, 2021. But some of his followers have been charged and convicted. According to the Department of Justice, five people associated with Fuentes’s “America First” movement were among the first rioters to storm into the Capitol. As described in the January 6th Select Committee’s final report, online researchers found that one of them, Joseph Brody, had been previously pictured standing in front of a Nazi flag while wearing a MAGA hat and holding a rifle. Brody has pleaded guilty to committing two felonies on Jan. 6, including assaulting law enforcement.

Another of Fuentes’s “America First” followers, Riley Williams, was convicted of interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder, and resisting or impeding law enforcement officers on Jan. 6 – both of which are felonies. Still another, Christian Secor, carried an America First flag onto the Senate floor and briefly occupied the Vice President’s seat on the Senate dais. Secor pleaded guilty to obstruction of an official proceeding and has been sentenced to 42 months in prison.

A dinner at Mar-a-Lago

Fuentes’s full throated endorsement of the violent coup attempt on Jan. 6 has, of course, not done any damage to his relationship with former President Donald Trump or the MAGA movement. In Mar. 2022, for instance, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene spoke at a conference organized by Fuentes. In Nov. 2022, Fuentes even dined with the former president at Mar-a-Lago. Trump claimed afterward that he did not know Fuentes. It is left to the reader to determine if Trump’s disavowal is credible.

Prior to the Jan. 6 insurrection, Trump refused to concede his loss in the presidential election and respect the peaceful transfer of power. He and his most avid suppΩorters, including Fuentes, abused social media platforms to spread lies about the election and stoke anger. With Fuentes’ return to X, the 2024 presidential campaign is beginning to feel like déjà vu. Trump has already refused to rule out the possibility of political violence in the event that he loses once again.   


IMAGE: Far-right commentator and supporter of former President Donald Trump, Nick Fuentes, answers question during an interview with Agence France-Presse in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 9, 2016. (Photo by WILLIAM EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)