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Michigan state Senate leader apologizes for calling Capitol riot a hoax



Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey apologized Tuesday for calling the US Capitol riot a hoax and espousing several conspiracy theories implicating political leadership in a video recorded and posted to YouTube.

“That wasn’t Trump people,” Shirkey said of the Jan. 6 riots in a video taken in a restaurant.

“That’s been a hoax from day one, that was all pre-arranged,” Shirkey said, asserting that rioters “went in on separate buses, that was all arranged by somebody that was funding everyone.”

“Why wasn’t there more security? It was ridiculous, it was all staged,” he continued, before pointing to conspiracy theories that Republican leadership — including Senate Minority Mitch McConnell — were somehow involved, and questioning how and why some casualties occurred or were recorded.

Footage from the Jan. 6 insurrection clearly indicates that many participants wore Donald Trump-themed clothing and filmed their actions themselves, and law enforcement officials have detailed the various communicative failures that contributed to how the federal response unfolded.

The recorded encounter with Shirkey occurred on Feb. 3 at Spangler’s Family Restaurant in Jonesville, Michigan, said Hillsdale County Republican Party Secretary Jon Smith, who told CNN that he posted the video on his personal YouTube page. “I didn’t trust him to be honest with me and I wanted to expose his lies and I might need it to keep it for my own record,” Smith said of his reason to film Shirkey.

The Metro Times in Detroit first reported on Shirkey’s comments.

In a statement Tuesday, Shirkey acknowledged the video tape was legitimate and apologized for his comments.

“I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve,” he said. “I own that. I have many flaws. Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them.”

He continued, “I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.”

The remarks come as the FBI and other Department of Justice law enforcement agencies continue to track down and prosecute dozens of those involved in the siege of the Capitol that killed five people, including a Capitol Police officer. More than 200 had been charged as of Tuesday afternoon.

Participants so far have hailed from a variety of states, and some have been linked to far-right groups. Active military personnel and veterans are over-represented among the first 150 people to be arrested and have records released for federal offenses in the violence and insurrection at the US Capitol, according to an analysis by CNN of Pentagon records and court proceedings.

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