“Like I told you, most of this stuff I can’t even remember,” Jones says about the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting at one point in a video deposition released to HuffPost.
The deposition, which was released publicly on Friday, shows Jones in the hot seat as he attempts to explain his reasoning for spending years falsely claiming that the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut ― which left 20 children and six adults dead ― was a hoax. He is being sued by nine family members of loved ones who died in the shooting, including Scarlett Lewis, who is suing Jones for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Lewis is represented by Mark Bankston of the Texas law firm Farrar & Ball. HuffPost has also included the full transcript.
Since lawsuits began pouring in against him, Jones has repeatedly claimed he now believes the shooting to have happened. But in his deposition, Jones can’t seem to help but continue to cast doubt on official reports of the shooting. He denies claims he made in the past just seconds before he is presented those exact claims in video evidence. He admits he didn’t prepare for the deposition. He can’t recall basic details of the shooting, including the date it happened. And he defends making the address of Sandy Hook father Leonard Pozner public.
His Lawyers Were Not Happy
From the start of the surreal deposition, Jones’ lawyers whined and sparred often with Lewis’ attorney. At one point, Bankston told one of two of Jones’ lawyers, Mark Enoch, that he would “appreciate it if you kept your mouth shut for this deposition.”
The argument begins roughly 20 minutes into the deposition when Jones is questioned about an Infowars video where the host claimed an evacuation at a building occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary. He used the video to make the point that proper procedures weren’t in place. But it was a different building. Enoch didn’t seem to appreciate Bankston’s questioning:
Enoch: Are you saying that’s part of his broadcast?
Bankston: Yes. It says InfoWars right there on the bottom.
Enoch: Is that part of the same broadcast?
Bankston: Yes. Do you see where it says InfoWars?
Enoch: As long as you’re representing that the video that you’re showing him now with the people walking across was part of the same broadcast ―
Bankston: Okay. First of all ―
Enoch: ― statements.
Bankston: First of all, there’s only going to be one lawyer defending this deposition, Mr. Enoch; and one was already chosen. And, no, Mr. Enoch, there will be one lawyer speaking on the record. There is one lawyer defending the deposition. I am not being tag-teamed by the two of you. And so I would appreciate it if you kept your mouth shut for this deposition and let Mr. Barnes defend the deposition.
Jones’ other lawyer, Robert Barnes, was hired just weeks ago after Jones dropped two other lawyers who had been representing him. At one point, a frustrated Barnes tells Bankston: “This is one of the worst depositions I’ve ever witnessed.”
He was right, though likely not in the way he meant.
Jones often used ignorance and a lack of preparation as a defense for not answering simple questions. As Bankston continued questioning Jones about the false building he had purported to be the school, the conspiracy theorist played dumb:
Jones: I talk four hours a day, and I can’t remember what I talked about sometimes a week ago. Sandy Hook has been, in the aggregate, less than one-tenth of 1 percent of what I cover. And I understand that you’ve been living this and poring over it constantly. I have done almost no preparation for this. It’s very ― it gives me a headache, and I just ― you’re just showing me a bunch of edited tapes.
Bankston: What question are you answering?
Jones: You’re asking me about a bunch of edited ― how does someone answer …
Bankston: Mr. Jones, what question were you answering?
Jones: If you put a bunch of pages in a blender with writing on it and blended it all up and you asked me what’s in the blender, I can’t answer you a question with a bunch of blended words.
Later in the deposition, when Bankston shows Jones a photo of a police dashboard camera the day of the shooting, he asks the Infowars host if he recognizes the significance of the time stamp:
Bankston: Mr. Jones, I’m going to hand you a copy of what I have marked as Exhibit 4. Have you ever seen that before?
Jones: I don’t remember.
Bankston: You’re not sure if you’ve seen this before?
Bankston: Okay. You’ll see at the top it has a time stamp 12-14-12?
Bankston: You know that’s the date of Sandy Hook, right?
Jones: I don’t know.
Bankston: You don’t know that?
Jones: Was that the day?
Bankston: It is.
Doubling Down On Falsehoods
The most devastating part of the deposition comes when Bankston reads the State of Connecticut Department of Public Safety investigation report on the shooting. Authorities who responded to the shooting recall small bodies in a class bathroom “packed like sardines.” It is a horrifying account of the terror, and Jones appears visibly upset. But it’s not enough to stop him from continuing his falsehoods.
Jones is asked about the supposed “deep research” he did on the shooting shortly after being read the official report:
Bankston: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Jones. Mr. Jones, I’ve noticed on a lot of these answers you’ve said, “Well, I’m just going off what Mr. [Wolfgang] Halbig said.” So what I want to know is: When you talked earlier about how you did deep research, what was that? What deep research did you do?
Jones: Well, I mean, I did look at the news articles saying they were being very secretive about the case, that a lot of things were sealed, which is unusual. There were lawsuits involved with that, and I did do research on [Michael] Bloomberg putting out an e-mail the day before saying, “Get ready. There’s going to be a big event,” you know, just straight up, people waiting around for mass shootings or whatever. And just the way the media made a spectacle out of it right away is what really made me question. That scene like with the WMDs or babies in the incubators, I just saw the media so on it, so ready; and I thought that added credibility to it.
Bankston: Okay. I mean, I’m glad you brought up the Bloomberg thing. I remember there was a couple of episodes where you talked about this Bloomberg e-mail and you said to your audience that there was an e-mail that came out in the lawsuit where Bloomberg told his people: Get ready in the next 24 hours to capitalize on a mass shooting. That didn’t happen; that’s not a real e-mail, is it?
Barnes: Objection as to form.
Jones: I mean, I don’t think it’s exactly that; but there’s one similar to that.
Bankston: Yeah. I mean, what you said is not real.
The full transcript also reveals that Jones had correspondence with Wolfgang Halbig, a notorious Sandy Hook conspiracist who exchanged more than 4,000 emails with Infowars. Halbig was recently found to have also been in contact with an NRA official discussing unfounded conspiracies about mass shootings, HuffPost reported Wednesday. In the deposition, Bankston refers to Halbig as a “raving lunatic.”
A Lack Of Remorse
Through it all, Jones is defiant. He hems and haws about how he feels “very sad for folks, you know, who have had to go through it, and I’m sorry” and says he “could have done a better job, in hindsight.” But he never apologizes for his specific actions, never takes real responsibility, and continues to insult those who have suffered cataclysmic trauma.
Jones once made the address of Sandy Hook father Leonard Pozner public. Here was his response to being questioned about it:
Bankston: If a person were to stake out those addresses, they could wait for Mr. Pozner to come pick up his mail, couldn’t they?
Barnes: Objection as to form.
Jones: I mean, the guy’s running an anti-free speech foundation.
Pozner is not running an “anti-free speech foundation.” The grieving father has also received death threats. Lucy Richards of Florida was sentenced to five months in prison in 2017 after she sent Pozner a voicemail that warned, “You gonna die. Death is coming to you.”
When Jones was called out by Bankston for openly mocking the Sandy Hook parents by imitating them crying and suggesting they are actors during an Infowars video, the host defended himself by saying he was “showing what people were questioning.”
By the end of the deposition, Jones presents himself as a martyr who has been victimized, and admits he will not take responsibility for the unfathomable pain he has caused his victims:
Jones: Well, I’m just saying that the trauma of the media and the corporations lying so much, then everything begins ― you don’t trust anything anymore, kind of like a child whose parents lie to them over and over again, well, pretty soon they don’t know what reality is. So long before these lawsuits I said that in the past I thought everything was a conspiracy and I would kind of get into that mass group think of the communities that were out there saying that. And so now I see that it’s more in the middle. All right? So that’s where I stand.
Bankston: And I’m little concerned about something I heard in your answer, that it seemed to be you suggesting that you weren’t sure if these parents have suffered pain from what you did.
Jones: Well, I was stating that I was reporting on the general questioning when others were questioning. And, you know, it’s painful that we have to question big public events. I think that’s an essential part of the First Amendment in America. And I do not take responsibility for the entire train of things that lawyers and the media have said I’ve done. So I do not take the responsibility. I do not take your indictment or your presumed conviction of me as the villain or the star of Homeland because that’s not who I am. And so I reject it.
The deposition shows Jones thinks little of the real-world consequences of his actions. But he may soon find that ignoring those consequences won’t stop them from happening.