Some MAGA fans think a pro-Trump rally outside the Atlanta jail is an FBI setup

WASHINGTON — After having basked in conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, some supporters of former President Donald Trump are worried that a rally Trump is promoting outside the Fulton County Jail in Georgia ahead of his expected surrender in the state election interference case is an FBI setup.

The rally, promoted by the far-right activist Laura Loomer, is expected at 10 a.m. ET Thursday, the day Trump has said he plans to turn himself in. Trump posted a link to a Newsweek article about the rally on his social media platform, Truth Social, as well as a screenshot of a Loomer post calling on Trump supporters to gather at the jail.

On both Truth Social and X, the Elon Musk-owned platform formerly known as Twitter, conservative users worried that undercover law enforcement officials and antifa activists were behind the rally, planning to use it as a “setup” to arrest Trump supporters.

“Watch out for the FBI and antifa/blm to stir up a riot,” a social media user with the display name “Ultra Maga” wrote.

“Be careful, it could be a setup just like the J6,” another user wrote. “Watch out for FBI plants,” echoed another user. “They can play havoc with your peaceful plans.” The social media posts were highlighted by Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan research organization.

Jan. 6 was not, in fact, an FBI setup. More than a thousand Trump supporters have been arrested for their actions during the Capitol riot, including some who conspiracy theorists have suggested were undercover agents bent on entrapping conservatives. In late 2021, on Tucker Carlson’s former Fox News show, a right-wing attorney for Jan. 6 defendants told viewers that a man dressed in red face paint and wearing a “Keep America Great” hat was “clearly a law enforcement officer,” saying he was an “agent provocateur” provoking the crowd. The FBI arrested the man, Rally Runner, this month. Runner, a huge Trump supporter and a former fan of Carlson, was known to St. Louis Cardinals fans as the man who ran around the stadium.

About 1,100 defendants have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack. Among them: a former FBI supervisory special agent who, federal prosecutors allege, yelled “kill ’em” as other rioters attacked police officers at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. That former FBI official, Jared Wise, stopped working at the FBI in 2017.

Another FBI employee, Brett Gloss, lost his security clearance because he was, in his personal capacity, present on the restricted grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The FBI, a conservative-leaning law enforcement organization, missed glaring open-source intelligence that suggested there would be violence on Jan. 6. “What was shocking is that this attack was essentially planned in plain sight in social media,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said in an interview this year. “And yet it seemed as if our intelligence agencies completely dropped the ball.”

Shortly after the attack, a top FBI official was warned that many bureau employees were “sympathetic” to the Capitol mob.

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