The Republican leader in Michigan’s state Senate said last week that the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol was a prearranged hoax and not the work of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
“That wasn’t Trump’s people. That’s been a hoax from day one. That was all prearranged,” state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said of the riot.
“It was arranged by somebody who was funding it,” the Clarklake Republican continued. “It was all staged.”
Mr. Shirkey made the remarks last week in a meeting with leaders of the Hillsdale County Republican Party at a diner.
Footage was recorded and posted on YouTube by the account R.O.A.R. (Reclaim Our American Republic) and reported on Tuesday by the Detroit Metro Times and other Michigan news outlets.
A plate of french fries sits on the table between Mr. Shirkey and the person videotaping.
In the recorded conversation, Mr. Shirkey acknowledges Trump supporters being part of the mob, but says they weren’t personally responsible, or the leaders.
“When you’re in mobs, you can get caught up in the emotion … Some of those Trump folk just got caught up in the emotion of it,” he says.
More than 200 people have been charged with storming the Capitol, and many, including the leaders, are known to have been Trump supporters, according to the FBI and Justice Department.
Pro-Trump online platforms had numerous discussions of storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 to “stop the steal,” the name of the rally at which Mr. Trump spoke.
In the video, Mr. Shirkey also says D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky bore at least some of the blame.
“Hell, Mitch McConnell was part of it,” Mr. Shirkey says. “I think they wanted to have a mess.”
When another person suggests to Mr. Shirkey that Ms. Bowser was behind the attack, Mr. Shirkey replies, “she’s just a puppet.”
The Shirkey meeting grew out of discussions by the Hillsdale County party to censure him as soft on state Democrats such as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The censure resolution passed the day after the meeting.
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