Matt Gaetz doubles down on false claim that FBI was behind Capitol riot

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There is no proof to support the Florida congressman's claim that FBI agents planned the attack themselves.

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) on Thursday promoted the conspiracy theory that the FBI was behind the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a claim that has already been thoroughly debunked.

Gaetz's comments come one day after the House select committee investigating the insurrection subpoenaed several individuals connected to the organization of pro-Trump rallies in Washington ahead of the attack. These include former Trump campaign spokesperson Katrina Pierson as well as organizers for the group Women for America First, which put together the "Stop the Steal" rally where former President Donald Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol in order to block Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election.

On his official YouTube channel and Facebook page, Gaetz posted video of the remarks, which he made during an interview with conservative activist Darren Beattie.

The bulk of Beattie's appearance on Gaetz's podcast, which he calls "Firebrand," was focused on amplifying conspiratorial allegations he has made previously on his website Revolver News that the FBI was involved in organizing the Jan. 6 attack.

Beattie has attempted to connect cases of unindicted co-conspirators in the attack to possible individuals who he claims are "protected from indictment because they were involved in 1/6 as undercover operatives or confidential informants for a federal agency."

He has offered no proof of FBI involvement in the attacks and did not offer any additional information to substantiate the claim in his interview with Gaetz.

A fact check of Beattie's claims published in June by USA Today described such allegations as false, and noted that the core of Beattie's claim regarding unindicted co-conspirators does not stand up to scrutiny.

"Prosecutors would not name FBI agents as unindicted co-conspirators," American University law professor Ira Robbins told the outlet.

USA Today could find no other evidence to support the theory.

Gaetz and Beattie also claimed baselessly on Thursday that mainstream journalism outlets like the New York Times were involved in covering up the story.

Gaetz theorized that if FBI "assets" were "doing more than more than merely infiltrating these organizations" and instead were actually "animating a higher acuity of criminal conduct," they would face "intense exposure and embarrassment."

Gaetz cited recent reports from the FBI showing there did not appear to have been an organized plot ahead of the attack, and suggested this proved FBI culpability.

"When they come out and say there's no organizing feature to this, there's no grand plan to storm the Capitol, well, they may be saying that because the grand plan was theirs," said Gaetz.

Gaetz also asked Beattie on Thursday if he believed that investigating the theory should be a priority for Republicans in Congress if they regain the majority in the 2022 midterm elections, to which Beattie replied, "Yes, absolutely."

Gaetz, along with Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, has promoted the baseless conspiracy theory about the FBI in the past, pushing the claims on social media after Beattie first published them in June.

The story was later widely amplified by Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who interviewed Beattie on his show and promoted the conspiracy theory in other segments.

Gaetz's affiliation with Beattie is long-standing. In 2019 he hired Beattie to be part of his congressional staff as what he called a "Special Advisor for Speechwriting," despite the fact that Beattie had been removed from his previous position with the Trump administration in 2018 for attending a conference frequented by white nationalists, according to CNN.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.