Sen. Mike Lee walks back conspiracy theory about January 6 riot

Earlier this month, the Utah Republican suggested federal agents disguised as Trump supporters were responsible for the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee is quietly backing away from his embrace of a debunked conspiracy theory that federal agents disguised as Donald Trump supporters were responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. However, Lee has not deleted his social media posts seeking to deflect blame for the riot away from Trump supporters.

After House Speaker Mike Johnson released nearly 100 hours of security camera footage from inside the Capitol, Lee pounced on false claims that federal agents were responsible for the violence. In one instance, Lee shared a clip suggesting a man in a red MAGA hat was flashing a badge at police officers inside the Capitol.

“I can’t wait to ask FBI director Christopher Wray about this at our next oversight hearing,” Lee said on X.

The person in the video clip was quickly identified as Kevin Lyons, who is currently in prison after his conviction on charges related to the riot. Lyons is holding a vape, not a badge.

On Tuesday, Lee told reporters that Lyons was probably not a federal agent because he is incarcerated.

“Yeah. Sounds about right to me,” Lee told the Huffington Post.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Lee had not deleted his posts supporting the conspiracy theory. His office did not respond to questions from The Salt Lake Tribune about whether he still intends to ask Wray about Lyons and his vape or if he will recant his online posts.

Lee played a prominent role in Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss through a scheme where Republican-controlled states won by Democrat Joe Biden would send alternate slates of Trump electors to Congress. The goal was either to delay the certification of Biden’s win or invalidate the results from those states, which would throw the presidential election to the U.S. House of Representatives. The final report from the House January 6 Committee said Lee “spent a month encouraging the idea of having state legislators endorse competing efforts for Trump.” Cleta Mitchell, a top Trump campaign lawyer, said in her testimony to the J6 committee that Lee cooked up the alternate elector plan.

Lee also received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from three Arizona Republicans who plotted to become false electors to overturn the 2020 election.