After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejected two of Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s picks to serve on the committee, leading McCarthy to pull his five GOP members from the committee, several Republicans have characterized the investigation as a partisan attack, attempting to cast the narrative in their favor much like many of their colleagues have tried to do about January 6 itself.
The false narratives about the events of January 6 have evolved over the past few months, with different politicians adding new, more wild conspiracy theories to the mix and trying to use congressional hearings meant to investigate the riot instead to promote their rewriting of history.
Immediately after the riot, some Republicans started falsely blaming supposed left-wing agitators for causing the riot and in the following months a small number of lawmakers began claiming the riot was actually a peaceful protest, promoting a conspiracy theory that the FBI was involved and saying the Capitol Police had “executed” one of the rioters.
For his part, former President Donald Trump has kept many of these false narratives alive, saying on Fox News in July that the riot was “peaceful” and there was “love in the air.”
As the Select Committee gets underway on Tuesday, here’s a rundown of some of the false narratives about January 6 and the Republican lawmakers who have been spreading them.
In the days following the riot, several Republican allies of Trump, including Reps. Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz and Mo Brooks, attempted to shift blame for the violence to supposed left-wing activists, namely Antifa.
The idea that left-wing agents caused the violent attack on the Capitol took root with their constituents. A Reuters/Ipsos poll from March found that 55% of Republicans agreed that the January 6 riots were led by left-wing protesters trying to make Trump look bad, despite any evidence supporting such a ridiculous claim.
‘Peaceful protest’ and a ‘normal tourist visit’
Some Republicans have tried to paint the events of January 6 as mostly peaceful except for a few bad apples.
One of the biggest promoters of the idea that the riot was actually a largely peaceful event is Ron Johnson, the only Republican senator who has been an outspoken denier of the January 6 events.
Echoing Johnson, Rep. Andrew Clyde made one of the most egregious comparisons to downplay the riot, suggesting many members of the mob looked like regular tourists.
When no evidence supported claims of Antifa insurgents and investigations disproved assertions that the rioters were not armed, several members of the GOP, including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Gaetz and Louie Gohmert, latched on to a new conspiracy theory which placed blame for the riot on the federal government.
The article originally promoting this conspiracy theory based its conclusions on a deeply flawed misunderstanding of how legal writing works and the definition of an unindicted co-conspirator, legal experts told CNN.
Trump has also supported this narrative around Babbitt, falsely saying she was shot in the head and that the police officer was security for a top Democrat, which is also not true.