Jeff Brain, Whose Site Organized ‘Patriot Caravans’ On January 6, Is Threatening To Sue The Uprising
This is a special issue of The Uprising, a daily politics newsletter. If you appreciated this story and want to help support this work, please sign up!
This month, The Uprising published a series of stories on a meeting Jeff Brain, the founder and CEO of the social media site Clouthub, had with former President Trump. The stories noted that, before Brain’s meeting with the ex-president, Clouthub was used to organize “Patriot Caravans” for the pro-Trump protests in Washington on January 6. The stories pointed out Brain himself personally participated in one of those groups.
Following those stories, Brain spoke to the website Just The News, which is headed by controversial opinion columnist John Solomon. In the interview, which was first published late Wednesday night under a headline that said Brain was considering “suing,” Brain claimed The Uprising’s reporting on him was “dishonest” and said he is “consulting attorneys.”
“I think we have very good case [sic], and he should be held accountable for what he puts out there. At least be honest. He should at the very least retract it, it's a completely fabricated story,” Brain said.
I stand by my reporting on Jeff Brain one hundred percent and will not be intimidated by legal threats. His comments were an attack on my integrity and the trust my readers place in this website.
Because I take this extremely seriously, I wanted to address his allegations in detail. I also reached out to Brain for comment on Friday afternoon. He responded to me with a text message criticizing The Uprising stories and comments I made in a subsequent interview on MSNBC as “false claims.” Both Brain’s comments to Just The News and his response to me contained false and misleading statements.
“You will be hearing from our attornies [sic]. You are the one making the false claims. They have your posts and your MSNBC comments,” Brain wrote in the text message.
Brain also said he had nothing to do with supporters of former President Trump storming the Capitol on January 6. That violent attack occurred during the large protests against Trump’s election loss. Clouthub was used to organize travel to those demonstrations. In his text message, Brain stressed that his company “opposes all violence by any person.”
“We had nothing to do with the activities at the Capitol Building,” Brain wrote in his text to The Uprising.
In the interest of fairness, I am posting Brain’s text message response in full.
In the text and his interview with Solomon’s site, Brain noted I referenced the fact that he personally participated in the main “Patriot Caravans For 45” group that was on Clouthub. Brain suggested I ignored the fact his comment specified he did not want discussion of violence. However, even though the original Clouthub “Caravans” page has been deleted, in the initial story on The Uprising, I provided readers with a link to an archived version of Brain’s complete comment. I also pointed out that “Brain specified that ‘discussion of violence’ would be deleted from the group” and stressed it was “about organizing transportation” to the January 6 demonstrations. Furthermore, in a follow up to that initial post, I published a complete, separate story noting that Brain had responded to the first article by invoking Martin Luther King Jr. to stress he wanted to be “peaceful only.”
Brain did not respond to requests for comment on those stories. Nevertheless, I repeatedly took pains to acknowledge that Brain discouraged discussion of violence in the main “patriot caravans” group.
In his comments to Just The News, Brain suggested the specific posts from the “Patriot Caravans” groups on Clouthub were “mischaracterized completely." His statements backing up this assertion are clearly misleading.
Specifically, in the initial post, I cited content posted on the group from “someone who used the handle ‘Jaybirdy’ and indicated they were leading a planning meeting in the D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia.” In his interview with Just The News, Brain was quoted claiming the "planning meeting" was "completely made up, never mentioned." However, “Jaybirdy” clearly described the meeting in a post on the since-deleted “Patriot Caravans For 45” Clouthub page.
“ARLINGTON: Quick notice to everyone in my group text, you'll receive your first text today (Jan 3) by around midday Pacific time. Our group will be having a face-to-face meet-up on Tuesday Jan 5 some time after 8pm to plan,” Jaybirdy wrote.
I also wrote that “posts in Clouthub groups discussing January 6 had violent overtones.” As evidence for this, I noted that, despite the fact only a few posts from the now-deleted main “patriot caravans” page are visible on the internet archive, some of those are from “Jaybirdy” who “ described themself by boasting about their skill with guns.”
According to Just The News, Brain disputed this and “said that 'Jaybirdy' never discussed marksmanship.” However, as noted by both The Uprising and Just The News, “Jaybirdy’s” profile, which is archived in the photo above, described them by saying, “Good patriot. Good manners. Good shot.” The Uprising story also noted another user with the handle “MrM1A2,” an apparent reference to a battle tank, noted their military experience and equipment as they sought a ride to the protests from Florida.
“COMBAT VETERAN JUST LOST MY RIDE FROM NAPLES FL to DC HAVE EXTRA WALKIE TALKIES AND SUPPLIES,” MrM1A2 wrote.
In his interview, Brain suggested this reference to combat experience was not an allusion to violence since the user “just said they were a combat veteran.”
According to Just The News, Brain further suggested The Uprising “conflated the organization of transportation to D.C. by the ‘Patriot Caravans for 45’ group with people who were at the Capitol building, even though the Capitol, an uprising, or unrest were never mentioned on the CloutHub group.” However, the main “Patriot Caravans For 45” page clearly noted the protesters were headed toward the Capitol. In fact, a visual banner that appeared above Brain’s comments in the group featured an artistic rendering of Trump supporters massed next to the Capitol dome. Clouthub’s login and account creation pages also feature pictures of the Capitol.
In his interview with Just The News, Brain failed to address the fact the Clouthub “Patriot Caravans For 45” page was featured on the website of the “Wild Protest,” one of the main pro-Trump rallies that took place at the Capitol on January 6. Along with a link to the “CLOUTHUB CARAVAN GROUP,” that site, which was administered by the pro-Trump ”Stop The Steal” movement, featured a map of the Capitol grounds with an arrow pointing the northeast edge of the complex and text directing protesters to “COME HERE.”
In his interview with Just The News, Brain also disputed a line in the story about Clouthub that noted “much of the content on the site is focused on the QAnon conspiracy theory.”
“There is just one QAnon group out of hundreds of groups,” Brain said,
A review of Clouthub on Friday evening showed “QAnon The Official Group Page On Clouthub” is identified on the site as its second largest group with 113,850 members posting content. Separately, Clouthub has featured a “QAnon video page.” A note posted on that page references the fact multiple companies have banned QAnon content and indicated that, in spite of this, Clouthub is making efforts to keep posting it.
“QAnon was removed by IBM our Video Hosting company. Not CloutHub. We are working to get QAnon back up soon,” the note said.
A review of hashtags for individual topics on Clouthub Friday evening also hints at the volume of QAnon content on the site. That review showed there were thousands of individual posts hashtagged with variations of “QAnon” and “WWG1WGA,” a popular acronym among adherents of the conspiracy theory that stands for, “Where We Go One, We Go All.” As of Friday evening, there were 4,274 separate posts on the site’s “main “WWG1WGA” hashtag.
Lastly, in his Just The News interview, Brain took issue with a comment I made in the second story on his meeting with Trump where I noted he had a "role in the violent attack on the Capitol."
"I had no role — I was in California. That was dishonest, he'll be held liable for that statement,” Brain said, according to the site.
The Uprising never claimed that Brain was personally present at the Capitol on January 6. As you can see, Brain and the site he runs did indeed have a role in the planning and organization of the large scale protests that subsequently turned violent. The “Patriot Caravans” pages on his sites featured users who said they were from multiple states and some who planned to rent charter buses to attend the rallies.
I stand by this reporting. It is backed up by extensive evidence. I think it is extremely important to continue doing this kind of impeccably sourced work on the January 6 protests and subsequent attack on the Capitol. I will not stop due to legal threats based on false and misleading claims.
If you believe in this work and want to support it, please consider sharing The Uprising or signing up!