In a high-profile hearing on the insurgency on the United States Capitol earlier this year, Senator Ron Johnson claimed on Tuesday that the mood of pro-Trump protesters who ultimately stormed the Capitol had been ” festive ”before the police fired a tear gas canister at them.
The Wisconsin Republican has been one of the main promoters in Congress of discredited conspiracy theories that it was not the former president’s supporters who carried out the attack on the legislature, but rather a small group of impostors .
Mr Johnson’s theories have been widely denied and disproved by federal records about who was arrested for their role in the riots.
Mr Johnson on Tuesday, citing the first-hand account of right-wing researcher J Michael Waller published in the far-right publication The Federalist, blamed a cadre of “false Trump supporters” for provoking police on Capitol Hill, who then provoked rioting behavior from the larger crowd when they responded in kind.
“He said the mood in the crowd was ‘positive’ and ‘festive’,” Mr Johnson said, reading Mr Waller’s account of the riot in the official congressional record.
“Of the thousands of people I passed or who passed me along Constitution Avenue, some were outraged and contemptuous of Congress, but none appeared angry or incited to riot. Many of the protesters were families with young children. Many were elderly, overweight, or just plain tired or frail, traits that are not usually attributed to riot prone people, ”Mr Johnson said, citing Mr Waller’s story.
Mr Johnson’s theories about the nature of the bloody riot, which resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer, have not been confirmed by the arrests and subsequent investigations.
The federal government has indicted over 250 people for their role in the riot, many of whom said they believed they were following Donald Trump’s orders when they stormed the legislature – a fact that contradicts Mr. Johnson that the “jovial, friendly and serious demeanor of the vast majority” has been sabotaged by left anarchists disguised as the right.
At least 14 of those arrested said they were supporters of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon who believed the former president was elected to wage a shadow war against a cannibalistic cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, consisting of Democratic politicians, Hollywood elites and others. leading liberals.
16 others have ties to the so-called Proud Boys, a right-wing fringe militia that firmly supports Mr. Trump.
Numerous news outlets published investigative reports with details of the open planning that was unfolding on right-wing bulletin boards in the days and weeks leading up to the capture of Capitol Hill.
Several men who wore combat gear and radio equipment as they walked through Capitol Hill – including one wearing ties in the Senate chamber – were arrested and later recognized as staunch supporters of the former president who was indicted a second time for inciting the attack.
Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund confirmed to senators on Tuesday that the most violent elements of the attack on the legislature were premeditated and carefully planned.
“The fact that the group that attacked our western front, attacked our western front … about 20 minutes before the event ended at the Ellipse, meaning they expected our agency not to be at what they call full power, ”Mr. Sund said, referring to Mr. Trump’s speech at the National Mall urging his supporters on Capitol Hill.
“And then also the fact that we’re dealing with two homemade bombs that, you know, specifically set off the edge of our perimeter to, what I suspect, attract resources.” I think there was significant coordination with this attack, ”said the former police chief.
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