Claims of FBI role in Jan. 6 Capitol attack are false says USA Today

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USA Today

In the months following the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol by rioters seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, conservative media personalities have attempted to downplay the insurrection and shift blame.

Some baselessly claimed the mob of Donald Trump supporters who breached Capitol barricades — fueled by unproven allegations of voter fraud — was actually a crowd of antifa members in disguise. Those allegations were wrong.

Now, claims that undercover FBI agents were behind the Capitol insurrection are circulating on social media.

“Evidence surfaces that the FBI planned and executed January 6 Capitol riot,” the Tatum Report wrote in a June 17 Instagram post.

The narrative started with a June 14 report by conservative website Revolver News. The story says there’s a “strong possibility” the federal government had “undercover agents or confidential informants embedded within the so-called militia groups” that were seeking to obstruct the Senate certification of the 2020 election results. The Instagram post linked to a Tatum report post that recapped the Revolver News story. USA TODAY reached out to Tatum Report for comment

After the article was published, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, Republican lawmakers and social media users amplified it across platforms.

Facebook users have shared an open letter from Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., in which he demands FBI Director Christopher Wray “fully disclose the role and involvement of FBI operatives during the January 6th Capitol riot.” Other users shared a clip of Carlson’s June 15 show, during which he said “FBI operatives were organizing the attack on the Capitol on January 6.”

But that theory relies on a false assumption: that anyone identified as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in charging documents is a government agent. 

In fact, legal experts say that term cannot be used to describe FBI agents or undercover government operatives. Charging documents and other evidence indicate that the Jan. 6 rioters included Trump supporters, conspiracy theorists and members of far-right groups.

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Fox News and social media users who amplified Revolver News’ claims did not return requests for comment.

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