“Defending his 2020 fraud claims, Trump turns to fringe Jan. 6 theories”


Ever since he was indicted on charges of interfering in the 2020 election results, Donald Trump has relished the chance to use the case in Washington as a venue to air his baseless claims of fraud. Now he is using it to circulate a new set of falsehoods: that the federal government staged or incited violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to discredit Trump and his supporters.

In court filings last week, the former president revealed that he has been pressing the Justice Department for information on far-right claims often elevated in his speeches, on his social media feeds and by his conservative allies in Congress — further blurring the line between his campaign and his court battles…

Now Trump is also suggesting that the government is withholding information on people known as “Fence Cutter Bulwark” and “Scaffold Commander” — nicknames given by conspiracy theorists to people they claim are government agents who instigated the Jan. 6 riot. Trump asked for “all documents regarding” Ray Epps, a supporter of the former president who has been falsely accused of being an undercover operative, and John Nichols, a liberal journalist in Wisconsin whom right-wing media has suggested encouraged violence at the Capitol on behalf of the “deep state.” He also asked for any intelligence the government had on “Antifa,” on pipe bombs found near the Capitol on Jan. 6, and on “informants, cooperators [and] undercover agents … involved in the assistance, planning, or encouragement” of the events of that day.

These are all references common on right-wing social media, including Trump’s “Truth Social” feed, and among his most conservative supporters in Congress. But they are far outside even many Trump supporters’ view of the Capitol attack and have been repeatedly rejected in federal court by the judges overseeing hundreds of Jan. 6-related cases.

“There’s nothing that suggests any of those debunked theories had anything to do with the causation of Jan. 6,” said Timothy Heaphy, a former prosecutor who led investigative efforts for the House Jan. 6 committee. “What he and his lawyers have put forth is more of a public relations strategy than a legal one.”…

Share this: