Influential conservative voices have spread an unfounded theory, based on a misunderstanding of legal terminology, that the FBI staged the siege of the Capitol on January 6.
Fox News host Tucker Carlson, citing the activism of right-wing website Revolver News, speculated about government involvement in his show on Tuesday. Mr. Carlson’s arguments went viral on social media this week, garnering millions of views and being viewed by Republicans in Congress such as Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida and Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia shared.
Mr Carlson said: “Strangely, some of those involved in the riots have yet to be charged. “Look at the documents. The government calls these people ‘unrelated accomplices.’ What does it mean? Which means in any case, they are FBI agents.”
The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment. But legal experts say this speculation is illogical and far-fetched. Conspiracy is defined as an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. A federal agent or confidential informant cannot be considered a conspirator because those special agents did not actually intend to commit the crime, Congressional Research Service – research agency Nonpartisan Congress – interpretation.
Jesse Norris, a criminal justice professor at the State University of New York in Fredonia who has spent years researching cases entangled in terrorism prosecutions, said he has never come across a case of a whistleblower. FBI informants are considered “unrelated co-conspirators. “
“Legally, it would be unreasonable to call informants accomplices,” he said. “If they were allowed to participate in the conspiracy by the FBI, they wouldn’t really be the masterminds, because they didn’t intend to commit the crime. Instead, they are posing as the guilty government to catch the real criminals.”
Ira P. Robbins, a law professor at American University who has written about unrelated co-conspirators, said it makes no sense to call an informant an accomplice unless an agent is involved. FBI scam.
“Even if that’s true, to say it’s true in one case it should be true in all cases – where’s the proof?” he say. “Where’s the truth?”
There are a number of reasons why the government considers someone an “unrelated accomplice.” The accomplice may have cooperated with law enforcement and obtained a settlement, or there may not be enough evidence to charge the individual.
In fact, it is the Department of Justice’s policy not to name unrelated accomplices “in the absence of some substantial justification.” (Former President Richard Nixon is well known as an indirect co-conspirator in the Watergate case, while former President Donald J. Trump has been labeled as one of the campaign finance violations.)
Mr. Carlson pointed to the indictment of Thomas Edward Caldwell, a 65-year-old Virginia resident who collected the documents described as an obvious leader of the far-right Oath-Keepers group. Mr. Carlson claimed that the unnamed people mentioned in his indictment “almost certainly worked for the FBI.”
The indictment mentioned several unnamed people. One of them – “Person 1” – is described in the incriminating documents as the leader of the Oath-Keepers, widely known as Stewart Rhodes. But there is no evidence that Mr. Rhodes was an FBI informant.
Charged documents depict “Person 2” taking a selfie with Mr. Caldwell together at the Capitol. As the Washington Post reported, that person could be referring to Mr. Caldwell’s wife. Mr. Caldwell posted a photo of himself and his wife at the Capitol on January 6.
Mr. Carlson also noted that a plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan last year involved FBI agents. That’s right. But the agents were not listed as “unrelated accomplices.” Rather, the criminal complaint refers to “confidential human sources” and “undercover employees.”
Similarly, during the Capitol riots, FBI informants were described as “secret sources”, “secret human sources” or simply “informers”, in when the agents were described as “operating in a covert capacity.”
And Mr. Carlson cited potential circumstances in terrorism prosecutions documented in journalist Trevor Aaronson’s book “Factory of Terror,” adding, “That’s what we’re seeing now. .”
This is also unlikely, experts said. In a recent study, Dr. Norris found that “right-wing cases had significantly less enticing indicators” than those involving left-wing terrorism or jihad.
“Not all covert operations involve arrests; Probably, most don’t,” says Dr. Norris.
Prof Robbins said that if FBI agents were heavily involved in planning the attack, it would be considered an entrenchment. But he said he was not aware of any Capitol riot participants raising the demand as a defensive measure.
“Tucker Carlson has a great deal of faith here when he says that the FBI agents were involved, therefore they were agents so they organized it,” he said. “There’s no proof of that.”