Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer lambasted Sen. Ron Johnson Wednesday after the Wisconsin Republican read a statement at a hearing on Capitol security that suggested ‘agents provocateur’ kick-started the MAGA riot.
Schumer’s statement – which accused the Trump loyalist with spreading ‘mindless garbage’ without naming him – came as an eyewitness to the events at the Capitol told DailyMail.com he did not mean to suggest the riot was a ‘false flag’ operation carried out by left-wing agitators, as some Trump loyalists have suggested.
The witness, J. Michael Waller, stood by his statement that Johnson, who has previously denied that the Capitol riot was an armed insurrection, read into the record at the hearing, which also uncovered intelligence failures leading up to the riot.
‘Blaming the January 6th attack on ‘provocateurs’ and ‘fake Trump protestors’ is mindless garbage,’ said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer Wednesday, after he called out Sen. Ron Johnson for his comments at a Tuesday hearing
Waller wrote about several groups of people approaching the Capitol on Jan. 6th – among them people he identified as ‘Antifa-types’ without confirming it or speaking to them.
‘They were wearing MAGA and Trump hats and clothing and they were wearing their hats backwards. They acted in sort of a paranoid way. They didn’t fit in,’ he told DailyMail.com Wednesday. ‘They struck me as Antifa types or left-wing,’ he said.
But critically, he said he did not witness those small groups of people he suspected commit any violence.
‘I expected to see trouble from them but I didn’t see them cause any trouble at all,’ he explained.
He blasted media reports after Johnson’s statement for ‘making it look like he and I were both alleging this was a false fledge operation when neither one of us alleged that.’
Another group he saw included ‘uniformed, organized physically fit males who appeared to have had military training or were combat vets who were very well organized and had a strong sense of purpose.’
As he wrote about in an article that Johnson read from, he saw these people, later revealed to be ‘Oath Keepers,’ spurring on the crowd with slogans that he took to be a coordinated action.
Waller is an analyst for the Center for Security Policy who published his own eyewitness account of event, which was then carried in the Federalist.
Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday that ‘Regrettably, the hearing also revealed that there are still members of the Senate Republican minority who are willing to continue the campaign of misinformation, deception, and conspiracy that helped fuel the attack on January 6th in the first place.’
‘So let me be very clear: blaming the January 6th attack on ‘provocateurs’ and ‘fake Trump protestors’ is mindless garbage. It has no basis in fact. Perpetuating and giving a platform to those lies is a preposterous contribution to a Senate hearing devoted to Capitol security,’ he fumed.
‘Everyone—everyone—needs to move forward by sticking to the facts and engaging in a very serious discussion about the security of the Capitol complex.’
At the hearing, Johnson read sections of Waller’s account that referenced ‘agents provocateur’ who turned ‘unsuspecting marchers into an invading mob’ during on January 6th.
He spoke after former Capitol Police chief Steven Sund described his officers being overrun by a MAGA mob armed with flags, poles, and bear spray, and himself testified that some rioters were outfitted for war.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) floated a conspiracy theory by reading from a witness to the Jan. 6th riot who wrote there were agents-provocateur within the crowd that triggered the riot
Johnson read directly from the Federalist article. The account concluded that a small group of armed attackers who ‘probably’ planned the event and led other rioters to take part.
‘He said the mood of the crowd was positive and festive,’ said Johnson, reading from Waller’s account as he joined a crowd marching to the Capitol.
‘Of the thousands of people I passed or who passed me along Constitution Avenue, some were indignant or contemptuous of Congress, but not one appeared angry or incited to riot,’ Waller wrote in the Federalist.
He said many were ‘families with small children, many were elderly, overweight, or just plain tired or frail, traits not typically attributed to riot prone.’
‘Many wore pro police shirts or carried pro police black and blue flags,’ according to passages Johnson read.
‘A very few didn’t share the jovial, friendly, earnest demeanor of the great majority. Some obviously didn’t fit in,’ he continued.
Sen. Johnson read from an account by J. Michael Waller about what he saw at the Capitol Jan. 6th
Johnson read from a piece by J. Michael Waller, an analyst for the Center for Security Policy who produced his own eyewitness account of the event claiming there were ‘agents provocateur’ behind the Jan. 6 riot
Johnson read the statement after other Trump loyaists promoted narratives that left-wing forces infiltrated or caused the MAGA mob riots
The account read by Johnson describes different groups within the protests outside the Capitol
A protester holds a Trump flag inside the US Capitol Building near the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC
‘He describes four different types of people,’ said Johnson: plainclothes militants, agents provocateurs, Trump supporters, and then a disciplined uniform column of attackers. ‘I think these are the people that probably planned this,’ he said.
The statement Johnson read described D.C. police as their ‘usually detached selves,’ and said he noticed ‘no police at all’ on Capitol grounds.
‘The openness seemed like a courtesy gesture from Congress,’ Waller wrote. ‘Everyone squeezed closer and closer together with mostly high spirits.’
Several times Waller identified himself as within earshot of flare-ups.
‘Some trouble began up in the front’ near the inaugural platform, he said, ‘but we cannot see what was happening.’
Then there was a ‘scuffle’ and people started chanting ‘USA, USA.’
He described a group of ‘plainclothes militants,’ adding they ‘fit right in with MAGA people.’
Then he said police fired tear gas into the middle of the crowd, which ‘changed the crowd’s demeanor.’
‘The pro police crowd when from disbelief to confusion to anger,’ according to the account Johnson read.
‘I’ll stop right there. The last five pages is titled provocatuers turning unsuspecting marchers into an invading mob,’ Johnson added, before asking a few questions of witnesses.
The article Johnson read from described the supposed agents-provocatuer as ‘scattered groups of men exhorting the marchers to gather closely and tightly toward the center of the outside of the Capitol building and prevent them from leaving.’
It claimed there were ‘fake Trump protesters,’ described as ‘a few young men wearing Trump or MAGA hats backwards and who did not fit in with the rest of the crowd in terms of their actions and demeanor, whom I presumed to be Antifa or other leftist agitators.’
The passages read by Johnson came as yet another person picked up by the FBI claimed to have Trump sympathies.
Thomas Webster, a former NYPD officer, surrender to agents in New York Monday. Prosecutors say Webster, a former Marine, attacked a Capitol Police officer with a pole.
His defense lawyer said he wasn’t part of any group and that he went at the behest of the former president of the United States.
The Souther Policy Law Center describes the center as having ‘gone from a respected hawkish think tank focused on foreign affairs to a conspiracy-oriented mouthpiece for the growing anti-Muslim movement in the United States.’
Johnson also said he found videos of incident ‘sickening’ and blasted the ‘reprehensible racial slurs’ rioters can be heard hurling at police.
Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who co-chaired the hearing, blasted the claim afterwards as ‘disinformation.’
‘As our hearing concludes, I want to make one thing clear: ‘provocateurs’ did not storm the Capitol. They were not ‘fake Trump protestors.’ The mood on January 6th was not ‘festive.’ That is disinformation.’