Michigan State Senator Mike Shirkey Under Fire Over Capitol 'Hoax' Comments

Michigan representatives who were inside the Capitol during the January 6 riots criticized State Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey for falsely claiming the attack was a "hoax".

Shirkey made the remarks during a recorded meeting with the Hillsdale County Republican Party. When questioned on the attack carried out by supporters of former President Donald Trump, he said: "That wasn't Trump people."

"That's been a hoax from day one," Shirkey said in the video. "That was all arranged by someone who was funding it all."

"Why wasn't there more security there?" he continued. "It was ridiculous. It was all staged."

Shirkey went on to accuse Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, of being "part of it" because he is "part of the decision-making" on security.

The state senate leader apologized for his "insensitive comments" on Tuesday.

"I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve," he said in a statement.

"I own that. I have many flaws. Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them."

Several Democratic Michigan lawmakers in Congress condemned Shirkey's claims.

Rep. Dan Kildee, who represents Michigan's fifth district, called the state senator's remarks "incredibly disappointing," adding it is "unfortunate" that more Republican leaders are "resorting to conspiracy theories to stoke their political base."

"In dismissing the Capitol attack and openly meeting with Michigan militia groups that promote violence, Senator Shirkey has demonstrated he is willing to cater to the most extreme voices," said Kildee.

The New York Times previously revealed Shirkey's ties to armed paramilitary groups in Michigan. On one occasion, the report said, the senator shared a stage with a militiaman who was later accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who represents Michigan's 8th district, appeared to respond to Shirkey's apology: "Admitting a poor choice of words doesn't cut it."

"You were taped spreading some of the same types of conspiracy theories that helped lead to the attack, after months and months of cozying up to some of the very groups who went inside the Capitol," the Democrat tweeted.

Rep. Haley Stevens called on GOP Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to denounce Shirkey's remarks.

"I know you've got a knack for complicity, particularly when it comes to deranged gaslighting and hate speech, but right now would be a great time to condemn these comments from @SenMikeShirkey," said the congresswoman, who represents Michigan's 11th district.

"Sincerely, Your Rep in Congress who was at the Capitol that day."

"I was there with my colleagues as we put on gas masks & evacuated the House Chamber," tweeted congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who represents Michigan's 12th district. "I heard the gunshot that killed a woman. They came to kidnap and kill lawmakers. It wasn't a hoax, it was life or death."

"My life & the lives of Democrats & Republicans, including former VP Pence, were in danger," tweeted Rep. Brenda Lawrence, who represents the state's 14th district. "The deadly riot was prearranged... by the previous President, Donald Trump."

Beyond Michigan Democrats, Republican Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger—who has clashed with his GOP colleagues for his criticism of Trump—called Shirkey's comments "sadly pathetic."

"Instead of taking the censure, he tried to push the lie," he tweeted.

Kinzinger was referring to the Hillsdale GOP group's move to censure Shirkey, citing the senator's failure to adequately support conservative values and push back against Gov. Whitmer's policies.

Newsweek has contacted Shirkey's office for comment.

The violence on January 6th left five people dead and over a hundred police officers injured. It was not a “hoax.” https://t.co/7UI8zKDo0b

— Rep. Elissa Slotkin (@RepSlotkin) February 10, 2021
Trump supporters riot outside the U.S. Capitol
Supporters of US President Donald Trump riot outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Michigan State Senator Mike Shirkey came under fire for claiming the attack was staged. ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty Images