- Republican lawmakers and conservative news figures, including on Fox News, are stoking the flames of an unproven theory that “the antifa” helped storm the Capitol on Wednesday.
- A crowd of Trump supporters entered the building, destroyed property, and entered people’s offices.
- This led to the evacuation of lawmakers from a joint session of Congress and the deaths of four people.
- But GOP figures like Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Paul Gosar, and Rep. Mo Brooks say the antifa was involved, spreading a theory shared hundreds of thousands of times online.
- The FBI described the antifa as an ideology, not a specific organization.
- Visit the Business Insider homepage for more stories.
Republican lawmakers, Fox News figures and supporters of President Donald Trump are helping to cast blame for Wednesday’s “antifa” storming of the US Capitol.
Trump supporters entered the building on Wednesday after being waved by the president. They broke windows, entered officers of Congress, and destroyed government property. This led to the evacuation of lawmakers, a deadlock in the Senate, and the deaths of four people.
The attack came after Trump addressed his supporters, repeating his baseless claims that he won the 2020 presidential election and telling them to go to Capitol Hill. Rioters broadcast their actions live, carried Trump flags, and carried Trump merchandise.
But right-wing figures and Trump supporters are claiming a different scenario, without any evidence.
They blamed “antifa,” which the FBI viewed last year as an ideology rather than a specific organization.
Trump used the antifa as a boogeyman, and he and his supporters also blamed the antifa – which stands for anti-fascist – for the widespread Black Lives Matter protests that started last summer and continued throughout the year. .
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Republican and staunch Trump ally, said in a speech in Congress after the assault that “some of the people who raped the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were posing as Trump supporters and were in fact members of the violent anti-fa terrorist group.”
He then spread the theory on Twitter and retweeted a post which described his speech as “speech of the day”.
Gaetz quoted a Washington Times article, which claimed that a retired military officer said facial recognition software from a company called XRVision was used to connect two men who were with the protesters with antifa – the first because he had a “Stalinist”. “tattoo, and the second because it had been seen at Black Lives Matter protests in the past.
But there are a number of issues with his theory:
- XRVision told BuzzFeed News that the Washington Times story about it was false.
- As Insider’s Charles Davis noted, Jake Angeli, the man who was pictured at the Black Lives Matter protest, was there because he was actually protesting the protests and is not part of Antifa.
- Mashable noted that the other man’s tattoo was actually from a video game logo and was shown to be linked to far-right ideas.
- There’s also the fact that Trump and his supporters have been preparing to challenge the Jan.6 election results for months, and that attack plans have been circulating on social media in days prior.
But Gaetz is not alone in the theory.
Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Atlanta, told Fox News Wednesday night: “There are indications that fascist anti-fa elements were involved, that they integrated into the Trump protests.”
Rep. Paul Gosar, a Republican in Arizona, also tweeted: “It has all the characteristics of the antifa provocation.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Republican Shannon Grove, California State Senate Minority Leader, tweeted, “Patriots don’t act like that! It was Antifa,” before deleting her tweet.
Messages alleging antifa involvement in the assault on Capitol Hill have been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter, the New York Times reported.
Fox News and the right-wing media also got involved to help peddle the false statement.
As the Washington Post noted, Fox News host Laura Ingraham also hinted at the idea that protesters had been infiltrated, saying on Wednesday that the rioters “were probably not all Trump supporters. “.
She said that “members of Trump’s support organizations and the antifa were threatening to run at the same time” in Washington, DC.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume also tweeted Wednesday that people should “not be surprised if we learn in the coming days that Trump’s rioters have been infiltrated by left-wing extremists.”
Other Fox News figures have also baselessly assumed that not all of those present at the attack on Capitol Hill were Trump supporters.
According to The Post, “Fox & Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade said, “I don’t know any Trump supporters who have ever been violent that I know in a big situation,” while the Host Sean Hannity said he wanted to know who the “agitators” were and that “those who truly support President Trump… do not support those who commit acts of violence”.
Right-wing outlet Gateway Pundit claimed that a former FBI agent said at least one Antifa rogue ‘bus’ infiltrated peaceful Trump protesters as part of a fake Trump flag operation. There is no evidence to suggest this.
And MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, a prominent Trump supporter, baselessly asserted in Trump-friendly Newsmax that “there were probably undercover anti-fas disguising themselves as Trump” on Capitol Hill.
Tom Basile, a Newsmax presenter, also peddled this baseless claim, saying: “We’ve seen the antifa, we’ve seen Black Lives Matter, we’ve seen other leftist groups that have tried to stir up the violence.”
Many Trump administration officials resigned from their posts following Wednesday’s riot.
Facebook has also suspended Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts until the end of his presidency, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying the company believes “the risks of allowing the president to continue using our service during this time are just too much. large “.