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Despite repeated claims, there is no evidence that the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was instigated by FBI agents.
Texas businessman Mauro Garza, who is trying for a third time to win a seat in Congress and facing a crowded field of Republican primary opponents, is airing an ad that repeated a false conspiracy theory about the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
"They call it an insurrection. But what really happened January 6th? Were FBI agents used as political agitators?"
The ad ends with the narrator saying that in Congress, Garza "will join other pro-Trump patriots to expose the truth, bring justice to political prisoners and take on the Washington swamp."
“They call it an insurrection. But what really happened January 6th? Were FBI agents used as political agitators?"— Michael C. Bender (@MichaelCBender) January 24, 2022
New TV spot running aired morning from Mauro Garza, one of several Rs running for an open House seat in southern Texas. pic.twitter.com/OK8jur0quR
We have repeatedly debunked the claim that the FBI agents instigated or participated in the attack on the Capitol. There was never compelling evidence that the FBI or any other government agency instigated the attack and, with more than 700 people facing charges related to the day’s events, there still isn’t.
What the evidence does show is that hundreds of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a brazen attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.
A House select committee is investigating a range of activities by Trump, his aides and his supporters seeking to disrupt the counting of electoral votes and overturn the legitimate results of that election.
Garza’s claim follows a pattern of Republican officials and candidates, Trump sympathizers and right-wing media figures trying to redirect blame for the attack, or play down its significance, a campaign we called our Lie of the Year for 2021.
The false-flag theory of FBI involvement in the attack grew out of a misinterpretation of the federal charging documents against the alleged rioters. Because some of the documents also mentioned unindicted, unnamed co-conspirators, the theory went, it would be reasonable to assume that those people were FBI informants or agents.
The theory also raised the issue of whether these figures were "instigators" during the storming of the Capitol, suggesting not only that the government was involved, but also that its agents caused violence and damage, rather than stopping it.
In June, we reported on why the premise of the theory is wrong. Experts explained that under almost no circumstances can undercover government operatives and informants be described in government filings as co-conspirators. The main reason: A component of criminal conspiracy is the agreement to commit a crime. That isn’t what undercover operatives do.
Even so, Trump sympathizers have continued to push the false theory. In November, Fox News talk show host Tucker Carlson claimed, without any credible evidence, that federal agents directly incited people on Jan. 6, and "intentionally entrapped" American citizens. Our rating was False.
In January, Ray Epps, an Arizona man whom Carlson and others held up as a possible undercover FBI agent or informant, said he had no ties to the FBI; and Rally Runner, another man singled out on Carlson’s show, said on Carlson’s segment that suggesting he was a federal agent was a "false story."
Garza describes himself as an entrepreneur in commercial real estate, consumer products and hospitality. A news article on his 2020 campaign described him as the owner of a popular San Antonio nightclub.
Garza is vying for an open seat in Texas’ reorganized 15th Congressional District, which includes areas around San Antonio, Corpus Christi and communities to the south.
The seat is open because the incumbent, Democrat Vicente Gonazles, chose to run for House District 34 after Republican redistricting made District 15 more competitive. The Cook Political Report, Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball all rate the race as "lean" or "tilt" Republican.
This is Garza’s third run for the House. In 2018, he won less than 1% of the vote in the GOP primary in the 21st district; in 2020, he won the GOP primary in District 20, but lost to the incumbent, Democratic Rep. Joaquin Castro.
Garza’s ad stated: "They call" Jan. 6 "an insurrection," but "were FBI agents used as political agitators?"
He repeated a claim that has been repeatedly debunked, as there is no evidence that the attack on the Capitol was instigated by FBI agents.
We rate Garza’s claim False.
Twitter, Michael C. Bender tweet of Mauro Garza ad, Jan. 24, 2022
PolitiFact, "Why the new false flag conspiracy theory that FBI orchestrated Capitol attack is wrong," June 18, 2021
PolitiFact, "Tucker Carlson’s conspiracy theory about FBI and Jan. 6 continues to be wrong," Nov. 4, 2021
PolitiFact, "How new Jan. 6 revelations on Ray Epps, others undercut Tucker Carlson’s FBI conspiracy theory," Jan. 18, 2022
PolitiFact, "The 2021 Lie of the Year: Lies about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and its significance," Dec. 15, 2021
PolitiFact, "There’s still no evidence that the FBI incited the Jan. 6 riot, despite stories claiming otherwise," Nov. 17, 2021
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