If you’re looking for wild-eyed ranting, a Conservative Political Action Conference panel is a good place to look. But a CPAC panel titled “The Truth About January 6th”? You know that’s going to deliver.
And on Friday, deliverance came in the form of American Greatness senior writer Julie Kelly, who would like you to know that the real villain of Jan. 6 is President Joe Biden.
In an extended and utterly predictable riff, Kelly began by describing the president of an unnamed country whose citizens’ rights were “gone.” These people have “no due process [or] presumption of innocence, trials are delayed, evidence is covered up, their lives are destroyed, their families are destroyed, their businesses are destroyed, [and] the media of course helps out the regime in smearing these people and ruining their lives,” as Kelly said. “Now who am I talking about? Not Vladimir Putin, of course. Joe Biden.”
That unfortunate note was a highlight in a speech full of them, as Kelly espoused sympathy for the Jan. 6 rioters, downplayed the Capitol insurrection itself, and wove a conspiracy-laden narrative to fill in the gaps in between.
The “citizens” in Kelly’s Biden-is-Putin bit are none other than the Jan. 6 rioters. More than 700 individuals have been charged for their role in the insurrection, ranging from misdemeanors to seditious conspiracy. (Kelly called the insurrection, which resulted in several deaths, merely “a four-hour disturbance” that happened “more than a year ago” — as if the amount of time elapsed since then lessens the seriousness of the whole thing.) The number of people charged over the riot, she complained, is “more than three times as many people who faced federal charges” over the 2020 protests nationwide after George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. (That may have something to do with the event in question happening on federal law enforcement’s territory, but we digress.) It was these events, she claimed, that “actually terrorized the country.”
From there, Kelly painted a sympathetic portrait of those imprisoned and currently awaiting trial for their role in obstructing a democratic process. In the meantime, she alleged, the Department of Justice “covers up evidence against them.”
“What we don’t know is why the government is trying to hide 14,000 hours of surveillance video captured on publicly funded security cameras in the U.S. Capitol. Who wants to see the tapes? Who wants to see the 14,000 hours?” Kelly asked the Florida audience. “What are they trying to hide?”
“Also, we deserve to know how many FBI undercover agents and informants were involved with not only what happened that day but ahead of time,” she went on to say, referencing the unfounded theory pushed by Fox News host Tucker Carlson and others that a man named Ray Epps was a potential federal informant who helped instigate the riot.
Kelly then mentioned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) questioning an FBI official last month about the same thing. Cruz himself and many in conservative media framed her responses as suspicious because she refused to disclose sources and methods — a common reply under the circumstances.
“We know what this FBI has been up to for at least the last five years —what they’re capable of,” Kelly said, not bothering to be describe what exactly it is that “we know.”
All of these seemingly nefarious things, Kelly concluded, should be addressed by Republicans if they win back control of Congress in the 2022 midterms.
It sounds crazy, but Donald Trump has already suggested he may pardon Jan. 6 rioters if he takes back the White House in 2024.