Some Trump allies are claiming, without evidence, that the true culprits of Wednesday’s chaos at the U.S. Capitol were not supporters of the president who were fuming about his election loss, but rather far-left anti-fascist activists.
What You Need To Know
- Some Trump allies are baselessly claiming antifa members, not Trump supporters, are to blame for Wednesday's rioting at the Capitol
- Republican House members Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar are among those suggesting far-left activists infiltrated the pro-Trump protest
- There’s no verifiable evidence to support antifa was behind Wednesday’s unrest
- A company that reportedly used facial-recognition software to identify two antifa members is disputing that report
Soon after the rioting that left four people dead and members of Congress running for cover, misinformation that antifa, a favorite target of right-wing conspiracy theories, orchestrated the attack on the Capitol was spreading on social media, in conservative media and even on the House floor.
When the House reconvened Wednesday night to debate an objection to President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), one of President Donald Trump’s fiercest defenders, baselessly suggested members of antifa had infiltrated the protest.
Gaetz cited a Washington Times report saying that a firm called XRVision used facial-recognition software to link two of the protesters to antifa. The congressman admitted he didn’t know if the report was true, but, if so, it indicated, he said, that “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.”
In a statement given to Spectrum News on Thursday, XRVision disputed the Washington Times’ reporting and said it has demanded a retraction and an apology. The company said its analysis identified two members of neo-Nazi groups and another known promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, but no one who is affiliated with the antifa movement.
The Washington Times report claimed the XRVision analysis was given to the conservative newspaper by a “retired military officer.” The firm said it did not provide information directly to the newspaper or any retired military officer.
There’s no verifiable evidence to support antifa – which the FBI describes as an ideology, not an organization – was behind Wednesday’s unrest. The rioting began just after Trump held a rally near the White House in which he told his supporters, “You will never take back our country with weakness,” and called on the protesters to march to the Capitol, where lawmakers were voting on certifying Joe Biden’s win in the Electoral College. The president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told the crowd, “Let's have trial by combat.”
On social media Wednesday, many Trump supporters chronicled and boasted about the siege of the Capitol and referred to those who stormed the Capitol as “patriots.”
Trump did not question the allegiance of the mob. In video remarks that have since been deleted by Twitter, Trump said, “We love you.” In a post, also now deleted, the president, who falsely claims widespread fraud cost him the election, seemed to excuse the protesters’ actions, writing: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”
Yet, some prominent Republicans sought to deflect the blame from Trump’s supporters.
“Please, don’t be like #FakeNewsMedia, don’t rush to judgment on assault on Capitol,” Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) wrote on Twitter on Thursday morning. “Wait for investigation. All may not be (and likely is not) what appears. Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics.”
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) claimed on Twitter: “This has all the hallmarks of Antifa provocation.”
The claims were also being aired on Fox News. Discussing Wednesday’s events, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told the network that she thinks “a lot of it is the antifa folks.” Host Laura Ingraham also suggested on her show, without evidence, that antifa had infiltrated the Trump protests.