Conservatives blame tear gas for the January 6 storming of the Capitol

Footage of protesters storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, going viral on Twitter, is embroiled in a heated debate about what prompted Trump supporters to breach police barricades.

The video shows supporters of former President Donald Trump pushing through a police barricade before making their way to and eventually into the Capitol to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

In a tweet on Wednesday, CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane noted that the crowd seemed to gather minutes after Trump tweeted that former Vice President Mike Pence “didn’t have the guts to do what’s done.” should be made to protect our country and our constitution.”

The footage quickly went viral, with many opponents of Trump arguing that the video provided even more evidence of the former president’s guilt.

“Jesus – this is strong evidence that Trump had the January 6 crowd in his hands and that as soon as he received word that Pence had ‘betrayed’ him (and all the insurgent MAGAs), the attack on the Capitol was full *on*,” wrote author Seth Abramson.

“The coordination is crystal clear,” added another. “Trump gave the orders and the fascist mob marched in.”

But the conservatives responded with their own theory. It wasn’t Trump’s tweet that prompted the crowd to overrun the police, they claimed, but tear gas.

A conservative Northern Virginia organization argued that police firing tear gas into the right side of the crowd somehow caused the left side to advance towards the police two minutes later.

Right-wing commentator @DC_Draino said the footage proved the Justice Department lied about the day’s events and agreed that a police officer fired tear gas at his own officers, prompting them to back down.

Others claimed cell service wasn’t strong enough that day to get news of the Trump tweet.

The statement does little to explain numerous events that took place shortly thereafter, such as chants from rioters demanding that Pence be hanged by a noose and people continuing past the barricades and into the Capitol.

Trump reportedly even went so far as to defend the chant, although it’s unclear if he meant it.

However, the debate over the clip shows how much the conversation around the uprising has shifted to political panache. Conservatives have tried to blame everyone from the FBI to secret Antifa infiltrators for their own actions that day.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has also aired footage from inside the Capitol for the past few days to try to rewrite what actually happened. The DOJ has since backed down, arguing that the selective footage Carlson aired “lacks the substance of what happened before and after.”


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*Initial publication: March 16, 2023 11:04 am CDT

Michael Thalen

Mikael Thalen is a Seattle-based tech and security reporter covering social media, data breaches, hackers and more.

Michael Thalen Conservatives blame tear gas for the January 6 storming of the Capitol

Jaclyn Diaz

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