“Johnson’s Release of Jan. 6 Video Feeds Right-Wing Conspiracy Theories”


Speaker Mike Johnson’s decision to publicly release thousands of hours of Capitol security footage from Jan. 6, 2021, has fueled a renewed effort by Republican lawmakers and far-right activists to rewrite the history of the attack that day and exonerate the pro-Trump rioters who took part.

Mr. Johnson’s move last week to make the footage available — something the far right has long demanded — came as he tried to allay the anger of hard-line Republican lawmakers for working with Democrats to keep the government funded. Now, some of the same people who were irate about that decision are using the Jan. 6 video to circulate an array of false claims and conspiracy theories about the largest attack on the Capitol in centuries.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the hard-right Georgia Republican, was among the first lawmakers to post false information about the newly released videos. She claimed on the social media site X that surveillance video showed a rioter holding a law enforcement badge in his hand, suggesting that he was an undercover police officer “disguised as a Trump supporter” and the attack was an inside job.

But the item in the man’s hand in the screen grab she circulated appears, upon closer inspection, to have been a vape pen. And the man who is seen in that image, Kevin Lyons, was in fact a heating-and-cooling technician — not a police officer — who was later convicted at a public trial of multiple federal charges and sentenced to more than four years in prison.

Ms. Greene later edited her post to remove the false claim, but not before it had spread widely among Trump supporters.

Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, recirculated the same clip and false allegation that the man pictured had flashed a badge, adding that he looked forward to questioning Christopher S. Wray, the F.B.I. director, about the matter.

“How many of these guys are feds?” he asked in a separate post that included video of a violent clash between rioters and the police.

“Heads up,” former Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who was the top Republican on the special House committee that investigated the Jan. 6 attack, responded to Mr. Lee. “A nutball conspiracy theorist appears to be posting from your account.”

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