The FBI on Friday slapped down claims by right-wing media — and some Republican politicians — that anti-fascist activists were behind the storming of the Capitol.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, evidence that was broadcast live across the nation, Fox News, Fox Business Network, Newsmax and other right-wing media outlets attempted to blame “antifa” for the lethal attack on the Capitol on Wednesday as frightened lawmakers huddled under their seats. The attack left five people dead, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick.
FBI Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono said Friday that there is no evidence antifa activists were involved in the violent riot.
Asked during a call with reporters about claims that antifa dressed like supporters of Donald Trump before storming the Capitol, D’Antuono responded: “We have no indication of that,” CNBC reported.
Several people who were photographed rampaging through the Capitol, including some who have already been arrested, have prominent profiles as outspoken Trump supporters.
The claims about antifa quickly began to emerge Wednesday afternoon and spread on social media, fueled by Trump disciples, including televangelist Mark Burns, who falsely declared the action a “staged antifa attack.”
Later that night, during the conclusion of the riot-interrupted Electoral College vote certification, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) also falsely suggested that members of the antifa movement were “masquerading as Trump supporters” as they attacked the Capitol. A baseless Washington Times article cited by Gaetz was later removed by the newspaper.
The false accusations were parroted on Fox and other right-wing outlets. All three of Fox News’ prime-time hosts ― Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham ― suggested that antifa or other outside forces could have infiltrated and triggered the attack on the Capitol.
The fantasy was also peddled by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.).
In a four-part tweet Thursday, Brooks wrote that “evidence [is] growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack.”
Gosar’s claims appeared particularly insincere. Just days before the Capitol attack, Gosar had urged a group of his far-right followers to battle the results of the 2020 presidential election. “We’re fighting to the bitter end,” Gosar told the crowd. “This is our Alamo.”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) falsely insisted Thursday that the attack was “confirmed to be antifa,” adding ironically: “Violence is not the answer.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.