WASHINGTON — A Donald Trump supporter who posted the former president’s tweet encouraging supporters to go to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, before he stormed the U.S. Capitol is expected to testify Tuesday before the committee investigating the insurrection, a source familiar with the matter said.
Stephen Ayres of Ohio pleaded guilty last month to disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 13.
Ayres’ expected testimony was first reported by ABC News.
A lawyer for Ayres did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ayres admitted that on Jan. 2, 2021, he posted an image of a poster stating that Trump was "calling on us to come back to Washington on January 6th for a big protest - 'Be there, will be wild.'"
He wrote in his Facebook post that the media, Democrats, Chief Justice John Roberts, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi had "committed TREASON against a sitting U.S. president!!!"
After he attended Trump's rally, he admitted, Ayres entered the Capitol through the Senate wing doors and spent about 10 minutes inside. Photos of Ayres that day show he was wearing a "CNN FAKE NEWS" mask.
Co-defendant Matthew Perna died by suicide after he pleaded guilty to a felony count of obstruction of Congress. In a video cited by prosecutors, Perna claims that "antifa" was dressed up as Trump supporters during the Capitol attack. The video shows Ayres shaking his head in agreement that "antifa" was "disguised as Trump people."
Ayres also claimed that police officers in the Capitol were allowing Trump supporters into the building and that Trump supporters were set up.
"It was definitely planned out," Ayres said. “It was planned, just so you know."
A former spokesman for the Oath Keepers, Jason Van Tatenhove, is among the other witnesses who are expected to testify live on Tuesday. The Jan. 6 committee has declined to name the witnesses for security reasons.
More than 840 defendants have been charged in connection with the Jan. 6 attack. Hundreds of additional suspects, including dozens whose photos are featured on the FBI's website, have been identified by online sleuths.