Matt Gaetz Claims FBI May Have 'Animated' January 6 Storming of Capitol

Rep. Matt Gaetz has appeared on TV to spread a conspiracy theory that the FBI was involved in plotting the January 6 attack in the Capitol after infiltrating far-right groups.

During an appearance on Newsmax show Cortes & Pellegrino on Thursday, the Florida Republican said he believed that the FBI might have had a role in "organizing and participating" in the attack and had written a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray to demand answers.

"The FBI clearly doesn't have objections to selected releases of video and images from these days, but it begs the question: why is there not more transparency? What did the FBI know? And when did they know it?" Gaetz said.

"The question of whether or not the FBI animated some of the criminal conduct is one that is far more grave."

Gaetz goes on to suggest that it is "reasonable to ask" whether the FBI had infiltrated a far-right group accused of taking part in the January 6 riots, in order to "bring that organization to the point of criminal conduct as a mechanism as to try and bring it down."

He added: "The FBI has a long history of this, dating back to even the Civil Rights era, and I certainly hope our premier law enforcement organization is not actually working to violate federal law.

"We see an FBI and Department of Justice that I think has strayed from its original mission and now they're engaging as political actors," Gaetz said.

"I've been called a conspiracy theorist just for asking these questions, but whether it was the Russian hoax that was nonsense or the origins of the coronavirus at the Wuhan lab, I've got a pretty good track record of being right when I make pronouncements.

"And what I can say today is there was FBI infiltration of these groups and what we've got to decide is whether that infiltration led to more acute criminal conduct than would have otherwise occurred."

Newsweek has contacted Rep. Gaetz for further comment.

The congressman is himself under investigation by the FBI over allegations of sex trafficking. He has not been charged and denies all the allegations.

Several right-wing lawmakers and commentators are pushing the idea that the FBI helped to orchestrate the deadly attack on January 6, after some spent months trying to downplay the riots or suggesting that "antifa" or Black Lives Matter protesters were the real perpetrators.

Tucker Carlson has spread the conspiracy theory on his primetime show on Fox News, questioning why some January 6 suspects have not been charged yet and others are only referred to as "unindicted co-conspirators" in affidavits.

"Look at the documents, the government calls those people 'unindicted co-conspirators.' What does that mean? Well, it means that in potentially every single case they were FBI operatives," Carlson said on Tuesday night.

Carlson also pointed to two people—named as Person Two and Person Three—mentioned in the affidavit of Thomas Caldwell, one of several members of the far-right Oath Keepers group charged in connection with the events of January 6.

"Person Two and Person Three were organizers of the riot," Carlson said. "The government knows who they are, but the government has not charged them. Why is that? You know why? They were almost certainly working for the FBI."

Person Two is in fact Caldwell's wife, Sharon. She is named in another affidavit against him and fellow Oath Keepers Donovan Crowl and Jessica Watkins.

Person Three is also identified in this affidavit by his first name "Paul," and described in a message from Caldwell as the head of a "quick reaction force" for January 6.

In a separate motion arguing that Caldwell should not be held in custody before trial, his attorneys wrote that this "force" was in fact one person. They added: "Person Three—the Quick Reaction Force—is in his late 60s, obese, and has cardiopulmonary issues, a bad back, a bum knee, and is need of a hip replacement."

Legal experts have noted that there are a number of reasons why the government would want to list someone as an "unindicted co-conspirator" in legal filings, such as not having enough evidence to charge them yet or the person was cooperating with the investigation.

On his Thursday show, Carlson doubled down on his claim that the FBI was at least partially involved in the Capitol attack.

"There were pretty clearly a number of people in the crowd at the Capitol on January 6 who had been in previous contact with the FBI about what was going to happen that day. Some of them may have encouraged others at the scene to commit crimes," he said.

Newsweek has reached out to Fox News for comment.

Matt Gaetz fbi
Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, listens as FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on June 10. He has written to Wray to ask for answers on the Capitol riots. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images