FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday dismissed conspiracy theories about antifa being behind the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that was perpetrated by a variety of actors united in their support of former President Donald Trump’s baseless efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss.
Fringe websites, conservative social media influencers, and even sitting members of Congress have floated conspiracy theories, wholly detached from reality, suggesting that the hoards of Trump fans who mobbed the Capitol in hopes of installing Trump for a second term were actually anti-Trump protesters in disguise ― frequently blaming leftist anti-fascists labeled as antifa. To make their case, some conspiracy theorists have pointed to an activist livestreamer who claims to be a reporter, while giving short shrift or simply ignoring the hundreds of clear Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol and uttered threats against lawmakers who were forced to hide for their safety.
Wray, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the FBI had found no evidence supporting the notion that anti-Trump anarchists fueled the attack in a bid to discredit the former president and his allies.
“While we’re equal opportunity in looking for violent extremism of any ideology, we have not, to date, seen any evidence of anarchist violent extremists or people subscribing to antifa in connection with the 6th,” Wray said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not looking, and will continue to look. But at the moment, we have not seen that.”
Ever since the day of the attack, some Republican members of Congress have supported the off-kilter conspiracy theories about who was behind the attack. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) ― who served as the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee when Republicans held the chamber’s majority ― spread misinformation about the Capitol attack during a hearing last month.
Wray in his testimony specifically said that anti-government militia members and white supremacist extremists participated in the attack. He said federal authorities have charged more than 270 people in connection with the insurrection.
Several defendants have taken to social media to complain about antifa getting credit for the siege. One defendant, who admitted on a text chain to assaulting and stealing equipment from police during the attack, wrote that he dressed up in antifa garb because he believed the conspiracy theory that officers would actually allow themselves to be assaulted by people wearing black. “It worked... I got away with things that others were shot or arrested for,” he wrote in a text. “I fought 4 cops, they did nothing.”
Of the 57 state and local GOP officials HuffPost has identified as being at the rally, at least 20 afterward pushed the conspiracy theory that antifa or other militant leftists started the violence — a claim that’s been rendered increasingly absurd with each new arrest, nearly every one of which illustrates the defendants’ enthusiastic support for Trump.
Speaking more broadly about threats facing various U.S. institutions, Wray told senators that the FBI had over 2,000 domestic terrorism investigations underway, more than double the amount it had in 2019.