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An unintended problem with the GOP's new Jan. 6 conspiracy theory

If GOP conspiracy theorists think the FBI organized the Jan. 6 attack, wouldn't they want an independent commission to uncover the truth?
Image: Supporters of President Donald Trump gather outside the US Capitol's Rotunda on Jan. 6, 2021
Supporters of President Donald Trump gather outside the US Capitol's Rotunda on Jan. 6, 2021.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images file

On his Fox News program earlier this week, Tucker Carlson raised the idea that the Jan. 6 insurrectionist attack on the Capitol may have secretly been a scheme hatched by the FBI. Yesterday, the day after the broadcast, a group of far-right House Republicans wrote to the FBI, demanding a response to the kooky conspiracy theory.

U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01), along with Reps. Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Louie Gohmert (TX-01), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA-14), and Bill Posey (FL-08), sent a letter this afternoon to FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding transparency on the role their operatives potentially had in organizing and participating in the January 6th Capitol riot.

The trajectory of the right's line has followed a circuitous path, hasn't it? In the immediate aftermath of the assault from the pro-Trump mob, some Republicans argued that the rioters were secretly Antifa leftists who only appeared to be Trump supporters.

In time, prominent GOP voices switched gears, decided the rioters were actually the victims on Jan. 6, and labeled them "peaceful patriots" whose actions more closely resembled a "normal tourist visit" than a deadly attack.

Now, evidently, some Republicans are switching back, concerned that the entire riot may have been a false-flag attack organized by FBI "operatives."

To the extent that such a claim requires pushback, a Washington Post analysis explained yesterday that the conspiracy theory is "baseless," while MSNBC's Chris Hayes described the ideas as "crazy stuff," comparable to other recent far-right conspiracy theories involving Hugo Chavez's ghost and magical Italian vote-changing satellites.

There's a related angle to this that also stood out for me. Obviously, there's no reason to seriously believe that the FBI was responsible for the Jan. 6 attack. But let's say for the sake of conversation that some Republican conspiracy theorists were inclined to take such an idea seriously.

If so, wouldn't they want an independent commission to examine the attack and uncover the details? Shouldn't they be demanding an independent probe to get to the bottom of this?

Or is this a case in which the conspiracy theorists realize they're peddling nonsense designed to agitate unsuspecting, rank-and-file allies, while rejecting the idea of a commission that would tell the public the truth?

House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told CNN this week that Democrats are still hoping to get enough Republican votes in the Senate for a bipartisan plan for a Jan. 6 panel, despite the fact that a GOP filibuster has already derailed the proposal once.

If these efforts fall short, as seems likely, Smith added that Democrats would proceed with the creation of a select committee. Watch this space.

Update: This conspiracy theory is so outlandish that even Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) seems uncomfortable with it.