After a pro-Trump mob broke into the Capitol Wedmesday, many on both sides of the aisle have expressed their anger at the perpetrators, though some on the right have sugested that members of antifa—not pro-trump supporters—had secretly infiltrated the group, inciting the chaos.
Citing a widely contested article published by the Washington Times, Congressman Matt Gaetz admitted that he does not know “if the reports are true.” But, he said, “some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters. They were masquerading as Trump supporters and in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa.” Across social media and conservative-leaning TV stations, some right-wing figures have shared the similar claim that the far-left activists were responsible for the riots, as The Washington Post’s Jeremy Barr reported.
Earlier in the day Trump urged protesters to “remain peaceful” during his rally speech. After the violence began, Trump called for his supporters to remain peaceful. “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” he said. “They are truly on the side of our Country, Stay peaceful!” The president tweeted again half an hour later as things intensified at the Capitol. “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” Trump said. “No violence!” “Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order. Respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue,” he said. “Thank you!”
Rep. Paul A. Gosar, R-Ariz., tweeted: “This has all the hallmarks of antifa provocation,” he wrote, about three hours after the incident went down. Plenty of other GOP lawmakers followed. Speaking to Fox Business’s Lou Dobbs on Wednesday night, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., said “there is some indication that fascist antifa elements were involved, that they embedded themselves in the Trump protests.” Brooks said the rioters “could be any other number of groups, anarchists or what have you, that could have taken advantage of this opportunity to vandalize the United States Capitol.”
The Washington Times report cited by Gaetz and others claimed that a “retired military officer” had sent the newspaper a facial recognition analysis of rioters by a technology firm called XRVision. Those claims were supported by the Gateway Pundit, who claimed that “at least 1 bus load of antifa thugs infiltrated peaceful Trump demonstrators as part of a false Trump flag ops.” The validity of this claim is still uncertain. Fox News host Laura Ingraham said Wednesday that the rioters “were likely not all Trump supporters.” She also noted that the insurrectionists’ wardrobe choices were suspicious. On Newsmax, Trump supporter and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell claimed “there were probably some undercover antifa people that dressed as Trump people” (Nation Thailand).
The Republican leader of the California state Senate posted, then quickly deleted, a tweet Wednesday accusing the mob that overran the U.S. Capitol in Washington of being led by antifa and not supporters of President Trump. State Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) added a comment to a tweet first posted by Lin Wood, a Georgia attorney who has filed unsuccessful lawsuits in support of Trump’s effort to overturn election results in several key states. “Patriots don’t act like this!!!” Grove wrote in the retweet of Lin’s post. “This was Antifa.”
A representative for the Senate Republican Caucus said Grove deleted the original tweet after realizing it was “incomplete.” A revised tweet, posted later in the afternoon, said that the violence in Washington was the “way Antifa behaves” and called the mob’s actions “unacceptable and unAmerican.” Grove, 55, served three two-year terms in the Assembly before being elected to the Senate in 2018. In 2019, Republican senators chose her as their leader, and she told The Times she would work constructively with the Legislature’s Democratic majority.
Most Republican state legislators who spoke out Wednesday condemned the violence in Washington without making mention of the mob’s alliances. One who did, Assemblyman Steven Choi (R-Irvine), condemned the action in a news release that described the attack as being carried out by “pro-Trump supporters.” The chairwoman of the California Republican Party, Jessica Millan Patterson, had no comment on Grove’s tweet but issued her own statement Wednesday condemning the actions in Washington (LA Times). As of now, there is no verifiable evidence that these activists, who broadly identify as “anti-fascist”, formed part of the insurrectionist mob who stormed the Capitol.
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
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