The former co-chair of the January 6 investigation in the House brawled with Senator Mike Lee, a fellow Republican, on X, formerly Twitter, over the weekend after he resurfaced a conspiracy regarding the attack on the Capitol.
Mr Lee, a conservative on the right wing of the US Senate, pointed to recently-released footage of Capitol Police officers having relatively peaceful interactions with riot participants as evidence that Donald Trump’s supporters were actually welcomed into the Capitol during the attack.
His tweets came more than two years after the attack, as Congress continues to be host to dueling narratives regarding the events of that day. Democrats, moderate Republicans and law enforcement agencies involved in the response have embraced the reality of the situation — that a handful of moments where officers sought to concede ground to the rioters peacefully were not indicative of the majority of interactions between the rioters and police. Dozens of injuries and at least one death suffered by members of US Capitol Police reinforce the absurdity of the alternate view shared by some Republicans that the rioters had peaceful intentions and were merely “tourists”.
In his latest go at embracing alternate realities aimed at shifting blame for the attack, Mr Lee retweeted a Republican lawmaker from West Virginia who wrongly asserted that one rioter seen on video passing several Capitol Police officers was displaying a government ID of some sort to those officers.
“I can’t wait to ask FBI Director Christopher Wray about this at our next oversight hearing,” wrote the senator.
Liz Cheney, who served as the Republican co-chair of the House committee which investigated the attack, responded with an admonishment.
“You’re a lawyer, Mike. You’re capable of understanding the scores of J6 verdicts & rulings in our federal courts,” she tweeted. “You didn’t object to electors on J6 because you knew what Trump was doing was unconstitutional & you know what you’re doing now is wrong.”
A Twitter community note attached to the screenshot retweeted by Mr Lee correctly noted that the man pointed out as a supposed federal agent had gone on to be convicted of felony obstruction of official proceedings and disorderly conduct; he has been sentenced to four years in prison. The supposed badge in the image retweeted by the senator is actually an item stolen from the office of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which was ransacked by the supposedly peaceful crowd.
Mr Lee is far from alone among his congressional GOP colleagues in his attempts to minimise the severity of the attack itself or shift blame to the FBI and other federal agencies with baseless claims of “false flags” and federal agents supposedly driving the crowd to violence.
Those claims have been soundly rejected by every law enforcement agency involved in the response that day, as well as America’s intelligence agencies — not to mention the statements of rioters themselves.
Trump White House officials such as chief of staff Mark Meadows have also been revealed to have known that the protest would likely devolve into violence days before it occurred, even as the president continued to urge his supporters to converge on Washington.