Michigan GOP leader calls Capitol riot a 'hoax from day one'

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) – A Republican legislative leader in Michigan falsely claimed supporters of President Donald Trump were not involved in the deadly attack at the U.S. Capitol, calling it a “hoax.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey made the remarks last Wednesday while meeting with leaders of the Hillsdale County GOP, according to a video posted on YouTube by a group called Reclaim Our American Republican. The Republicans spoke with Shirkey at a restaurant a day before censuring him for a number of reasons, including backing a ban on the open carry of guns into the Statehouse and allegedly not doing enough to fight Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions.

At one point, a participant who said he was at the Jan. 6 protest in Washington, D.C., asked Shirkey about it.

He responded: “That wasn’t Trump people. That’s been a hoax from day one. That was all prearranged.”

Another participant, who also said he had been in D.C., suggested that police tear-gassed “their own guards.”

Shirkey said: “Why wasn’t there more security there? It was ridiculous. It was all staged,” claiming that then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “was part of it. …They wanted to have a mess.” He added that some Trump backers “probably got caught up in the emotion” of the mob.

The siege of the Capitol stunned the world as hundreds of Trump supporters ransacked the building to try to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. Five people died, including a police officer.

A message seeking comment about the recording was left for Shirkey on Tuesday.

Jon Smith, the Hilldale County Republican Party’s secretary, told The Detroit News that he recorded the hour-long conversation but wasn’t certain whether Shirkey knew he was being recorded. Hillsdale County is one of three counties Shirkey represents in the Michigan Senate.

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