Fact checking Republicans' unsubstantiated claims that Antifa infiltrated Capitol riot
Posted January 7, 2021 5:14 p.m. EST
Updated January 9, 2021 3:02 a.m. EST
CNN — In the wake of pro-Trump supporters storming the Capitol Wednesday, several Republican allies of the President are attempting to shift blame to supposed left-wing activists, namely Antifa.
Reps. Mo Brooks, Paul Gosar and Matt Gaetz have all promoted the idea that left-wing extremist group Antifa snuck in with Trump supporters during Wednesday's rally to provoke the mob.
"Evidence growing that fascist ANTIFA orchestrated Capitol attack with clever mob control tactics," Brooks, an Alabama Republican, tweeted Thursday morning.
"This has all the hallmarks of Antifa provocation," Gosar, an Arizona Republican, wrote Wednesday.
Gaetz was more specific Wednesday night when he cited, on the House floor -- and to loud boos from his Democratic colleagues -- an article from the Washington Times, which has since been removed from their website. The article said that a facial recognition firm, XRVision, "claims Antifa infiltrated Trump protesters who stormed Capitol."
The Florida congressman began by saying he didn't "know if the reports are true" but went on to cite the Washington Times article, saying it contained "compelling evidence" that Antifa had infiltrated the Trump-supporting rioters' ranks.
"(S)ome of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters," Gaetz said. "They were masquerading as Trump supporters and, in fact, were members of the violent terrorist group antifa."
Facts First: None of this is true. The firm cited by the Washington Times has told two news outlets the story is false. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said there is no indication, as of Friday, that Antifa infiltrated the mob. Furthermore, right-wing extremists have been identified in the crowd that stormed the Capitol and CNN has, as of the publishing of this article, seen no evidence whatsoever of a left-wing infiltration of the mob.
The FBI told reporters Friday there's "no indication" that Antifa disguised themselves as Trump supporters to join the ranks of the mob.
When asked about the conspiracy theory, FBI Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington field office Steven D'antuono said "We have no indication of that at this time."
An attorney representing XRVision told both the Daily Beast and Buzzfeed News that the reporting from the Washington Times was wrong and that the company had instead identified two Neo-Nazis and a supporter of the radical right-wing conspiracy QAnon, not members of Antifa.
XRVision and the Washington Times did not respond to CNN's requests for comment prior to publication.
"XRVision takes pride in its technology's precision and deems the Washington Times publication as outright false, misleading, and defamatory," XRVision said in a statement to The Daily Beast. "Our attorney is in contact with the Washington Times and has instructed them to 'Cease and Desist' from any claims regarding sourcing of XRVision analytics, to retract the current claims, and publish and (sic) apology."
CNN has also identified several notable figures in the crowd of rioters as conspiracy theorists linked to two right-wing extremist movements, QAnon and the Proud Boys. You can read more here.
Right-wing figures like Sarah Palin, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and commentator Brit Hume have peddled similar theories of left-wing infiltration.
This story has been updated to include comment from the FBI.