Sen. Shirkey baselessly claims U.S. Capitol riot was 'staged' by Trump haters, recording shows

click to enlarge Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey. - Michigan Senate Photo Wire
Michigan Senate Photo Wire
Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey.

Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey suggested the Jan. 6 insurrection at the national Capitol was a “hoax” perpetuated by opponents of former President Donald Trump.

The state Senate’s top Republican made the bizarre and unfounded claim in a video-recorded meeting at a diner last week with leaders of the Hillsdale County Republican Party, who were discussing censuring him for not taking a bold enough stand against Democrats.

“That wasn’t Trump’s people. That’s been a hoax from day one. That was all prearranged,” Shirkey, a Clarklake Republican, said of the riot. “It was arranged by somebody who was funding it. … It was all staged.”

There’s no evidence that anyone but Trump supporters were behind the riot. More than 200 people have been charged with storming the Capitol, and several of them have been accused of orchestrating the insurrection. The alleged masterminds are Trump supporters, the FBI and Justice Department have said, and Trump himself told the rally at a crowd he was holding earlier that day to march on the Capitol. According to leaked cell phone location data, about 40 percent of the phones tracked near the rally stage on the National Mall during Trump's rally speeches were also found in and around the Capitol during the siege.

Shirkey insinuated that even Sen. Mitch McConnell “was part of” a staged insurrection.

“I think they wanted to have a mess,” Shirkey said. “They would have had to recruit this other group of people.”

Shirkey also suggested a darker conspiracy but offered no evidence.

“I think there are people above elected officials,” Shirkey said. “There are puppeteers.”

Shirkey also questioned why police shot Ashli Babbitt as she tried to climb through a broken section of an unguarded door in the Capitol as rioters threatened to kill members of Congress.

“I want someone to tell me why that cop shot that woman,” Shirkey said. “What did she do to deserve to get shot?”

Asked about election fraud, Shirkey said Trump “very well could have gotten the election stolen.” But, he added, he believes Trump lost Michigan, and he didn’t buy the baseless conspiracy theories about Dominion voting machines, which Trump and his supporters claim helped fix the election in favor of President Joe Biden.

But last week, Shirkey also expressed empathy for the Capitol rioters in an interview with The New York Times.

"It was people feeling oppressed, and depressed, responding to what they thought was government just stealing their lives from them," he said. "And I'm not endorsing and supporting their actions, but I understand where they come from."

Following our story, Shirkey issued an apology for his comments in the video.

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

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Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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