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GOP Senator Goes All In On ‘Nutball’ Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theories

WASHINGTON ― Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) over the weekend promoted false conspiracy theories in regards to the riot on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, after Home Republicans launched hours of uncooked footage from that day.

Lee stated he couldn’t wait to ask FBI Director Chris Wray about a picture of a person who was convicted of storming the Capitol and coming into the workplace of former Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calf.). The picture was shared by one other Jan. 6 skeptic who instructed the person was an undercover federal agent posing as a supporter of Donald Trump.

“I predict that, as at all times, his solutions might be 97% information-free,” Lee stated of Wray in a publish on X, previously Twitter, on Saturday.

However the picture of the person was truly of Kevin Lyons, a Chicago man who was convicted of six federal expenses referring to the revolt, per NBC Information’ Ryan Reilly. And Lyons wasn’t flashing a police badge, because the publish had instructed, however moderately a vaping system.

In one other publish, commenting on a video of Trump supporters attacking police, Lee requested: “What number of of those guys are feds?”

There have at all times been Republicans who lied about what occurred on Jan. 6, falsely claiming that the rioters had been peaceable, that they had been secretly leftists, or that they had been undercover FBI brokers. However Lee’s statements on social media had been outstanding, given his efforts to depict himself as an mental defender of the U.S. Structure and his obvious unwillingness to make any effort to test his info.

Former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who helped lead the Home committee that investigated the assault on the Capitol, stated {that a} “nutball conspiracy theorist seems to be posting” from Lee’s account. In a follow-up, she reminded Lee that he voted in favor of certifying the election on Jan. 6.

“You’re a lawyer, Mike. You’re able to understanding the scores of J6 verdicts & rulings in our federal courts,” Cheney wrote on social media. “You didn’t object to electors on J6 since you knew what Trump was doing was unconstitutional & what you’re doing now could be improper.”

Lee’s workplace didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Though he didn’t vote to throw out Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, Lee was initially supportive of the Trump White Home’s efforts to contest the 2020 presidential outcomes, serving to push legally doubtful schemes from John Eastman, a right-wing legal professional who authored “coup memos” for Trump. Just some days earlier than the Jan. 6 riot, Lee shifted course and backed off.

Home Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) on Friday ordered the Home administration committee to start publicly releasing hundreds of hours of footage from safety cameras contained in the Capitol advanced. The footage had beforehand been accessible for viewing solely to reporters and prison defendants, although its broader public dissemination had been requested by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and others.

In a assertion on Friday, Johnson instructed that individuals who appropriately perceive the occasions of Jan. 6 ― that it was a riot by Trump supporters indignant that he misplaced the 2020 election ― have been duped by a government-imposed “interpretation” of the day’s occasions. Releasing the footage, Johnson claimed, would reveal what truly occurred.

Gaetz, who falsely claimed on Jan. 6, 2021, that a number of the rioters “had been members of the violent terrorist group ‘antifa,’” amplified social media posts over the weekend claiming that the whole riot had been a setup.

Court docket circumstances have revealed that paid FBI informants did tag together with sure teams of rioters on the Capitol, although protection attorneys haven’t alleged their shoppers attacked the Capitol as a result of they’d been manipulated.

A former particular agent accountable for the FBI’s Washington subject workplace advised lawmakers earlier this 12 months that the FBI didn’t deploy undercover brokers or confidential informants into the group on the Capitol, however that some informants got here to Washington on their very own.

Earlier than Lee and others homed in on Lyons, Republicans’ high suspected “fed” was an Arizona man named Ray Epps, arbitrarily singled out from video footage for supposedly appearing suspicious. Lawmakers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) refused to withdraw their accusation even after Epps stated underneath penalty of perjury that he had no affiliation with any federal company, and even after he was charged with a criminal offense this 12 months for being on restricted Capitol grounds.

Final week, earlier than Johnson launched the video footage, Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) invented a brand new conspiracy idea that the FBI had introduced busloads of brokers dressed as Trump supporters to Washington.

“I’ve turned a number of this proof over to the suitable authorities, and we’ll see what occurs,” Higgins advised HuffPost. “Once we get Trump again within the White Home, these guys are in a bind.”

Wray, for his half, has repeatedly advised Republicans that FBI brokers and informants didn’t orchestrate the ransacking of the Capitol.

“If anyone is asking or suggesting whether or not the violence on the Capitol on January sixth was a part of some operation orchestrated by FBI sources or FBI brokers or each, the reply is emphatically not,” Wray stated final week.

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