CNN learned of the raids through an eyewitness account, public records, a lawyer representing one of the rally organizers and an FBI spokeswoman who confirmed details of the searches.
Neither man has been charged with any crimes.
Taylor and Hostetter are well-documented promoters of conspiracy theories ranging from QAnon and the “deep state” to those related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the 2020 presidential election.
An FBI spokesperson told CNN the search was conducted at the property Taylor owns at 6 a.m. Wednesday. CNN obtained photos and videos of FBI agents at his house hours later.
Spokespeople for the FBI and the Justice Department declined to comment further about the raids or what investigators were searching for, noting that the case files are still sealed.
A lawyer for Taylor, Dyke Huish, told CNN that the agents were “just gathering information on people that were at or near the Capitol building on the day in question,” referring to January 6. Huish said Taylor “cooperated with investigators” and the search was finished “without incident.” Eimiller, the FBI spokeswoman, said “no arrests were made” during the searches.
Taylor acknowledged the raid on his Orange County home in a Telegram post on Friday. Using a pseudonym, Taylor urged his followers to “hold the line,” adding, “I am working with a lawyer and per his recommendation he said to keep on the down low for a bit to stay off any radars.”
Hostetter didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment about the raid or his DC rally.
The founder of the group that co-sponsored the rally, Virginia Women for Trump, told CNN that she hasn’t been interviewed by the FBI. An employee at Women for America First, a separate organization that held the rally near the White House with Trump one day later, told CNN that nobody at the organization had been interviewed by the FBI either.
Alice Butler-Short, founder of Virginia Women for Trump, said she primarily organized the rally and invited the speakers, but Taylor and Hostetter helped pay for the logistics and security.
“They kind of found me on Facebook,” Butler-Short said in an interview with CNN.
“We are at war in this country,” Hostetter said. “We are at war tomorrow.”
He continued, “Our voices tomorrow are going to put the fear of God in the cowards and the traitors, the (Republicans in name only), the communists of the Democrat Party, they need to know we as a people, a hundred million strong, are coming for them If they do the wrong thing.”
“I will see you all tomorrow at the frontlines,” Hostetter said as he ended the speech. “We are taking our country back.”
Taylor expressed support for QAnon in his speech and issued a call-to-arms, saying, “In these streets we will fight, and we will bleed before we allow our freedom to be taken from us.” (Huish, his attorney, later claimed he was speaking metaphorically and “has never called for violence.”)
Taylor’s lawyer tried to distance his client from the mob that invaded the Capitol, saying Taylor was “outside” but “never entered the building nor did he cause any damage to the building.”
“His sole purpose in going to Washington DC was to participate in a peaceful and patriotic protest in those things that he believes to be true and correct,” Huish told CNN in a statement.
In a since-deleted Instagram video from January 6, Hostetter said he was avoiding the Ellipse because he had “gear” that wouldn’t be allowed in. In another video obtained by CNN, Taylor said he was walking towards the Capitol and said he was just informed that rioters had breached barricades near the building. He is wearing a flak jacket with what looks like a knife sticking out.
“We’ll see if the Capitol Police are oath keepers of the Constitution,” Taylor is heard saying.
He later wrote on Facebook that he never made it inside.
CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan contributed to this story.