On the final day of the “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference hosted by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, Representative Adam Kinzinger (R., Illinois) bluntly dismissed any doubts about the FBI’s involvement in the January 6 riot as conspiracy theories.
Kinzinger noted that there are Americans who “truly believe that those of us in government are into adrenochrome” and that “we [politicians] are Satan-worshiping pedophiles.” These theories, he implied, are just as “insane” as the idea that the FBI played a role in the violence at the Capitol:
[…] I think [the January 6 Committee’s] real audience is history. Because in five or ten years, when my kid is in school and he is learning about January 6th, I want him to know the truth. I don’t want there to be any shred of doubt that the FBI and Ray Epps somehow organized January 6th and an insurrection. Or it was the Deep State. Or it was anything but what it was, which was a Trump-inspired insurrection.
The outgoing congressman’s comments were awkwardly timed, as just two days earlier, Matthew Martin became the first January 6 prisoner to be acquitted for his alleged role in the riot. US District Court Judge Trevor McFadden ruled that based upon video evidence, Martin “reasonably believed” that police had waved him into the Capitol, and was unaware that he was breaking a law when entering the public building.
In addition, just hours after the event, a blow to the DOJ’s prosecution of an FBI sting in Michigan sparked renewed questions about the federal law enforcement agency. Following strong evidence of FBI entrapment, DOJ prosecutors failed to convict any of the four defendants standing trial for allegedly plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in late 2020. The jury found defendants Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta not guilty of kidnapping conspiracy; after the jurors deadlocked on the remaining two verdicts, US District Court Judge Robert Jonker ruled a mistrial for Adam Fox and Barry Croft, Jr.
In response to this outcome, independent journalist Glenn Greenwald argued that the case fits into a decades-long pattern of FBI entrapment, which specifically targeted Muslim Americans in the wake of 9/11.
As Julie Kelly from American Greatness has documented, the FBI has been embroiled in a series of corruption and misconduct scandals. Like Greenwald and many other journalists, Kelly views this blow to the DOJ as vindication for her entrapment suspicions. In the attempt to ensnare the four defendants, “more than a dozen FBI undercover agents and informants were involved in the kidnapping caper,” she wrote.
In July 2021, the Federalist’s Max Morton aptly summarized the FBI’s involvement in the kidnapping plot:
The problem with the case is that it appears the FBI, through informants and undercover agents, hatched the kidnapping plot, served in the key leadership positions of the militia group, trained the militia members in military tactics, actively recruited participants, and funded much of the militia’s activities. Then, when various members of the Watchman militia became uncomfortable with the kidnapping plot, with several quitting, the FBI’s primary informant pushed the plot along, eventually becoming the militia group’s leader.
In the wake of January 6, many Americans – having watched the Michigan sting publicly unravel the previous summer – questioned whether the FBI had employed undercover agents or informants who incited violence at the Capitol as well.
In particular, Revolver News identified Ray Epps (among other rioters) as a potential FBI informant, pointing to the quiet removal of Epps’ name from the “Capitol Violence Most Wanted List” despite video evidence of his role as one of the “primary orchestrators of the very first breach of the Capitol’s police barricades.”
Though the Congressional January 6 Committee denies that Epps is an informant in a false flag operation, the DOJ refuses to admit how many FBI agents or informants were involved in the violence. It also refuses to release the 14,000 hours of video footage captured by Capitol Police during the riot, keeping it “hidden from the public even as clips [were] presented in court as evidence against hundreds of January 6 defendants.”
For many Americans, the FBI’s Michigan kidnapping scandal renews a distrust in the DOJ that traces a long arc of political corruption, through the Bureau’s illegal surveillance of political figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X under founding Director J. Edgar Hoover, the scandal-tragedies at Ruby Ridge and Waco, the post-9/11 entrapment of American Muslims, and the Russiagate conspiracy borne from Crossfire Hurricane.
As further evidence of FBI malfeasance mounts, it remains to be seen whether members of the January 6 Committee will be able to sustain Kinzinger’s narrative.