In the wake Wednesday's mob assault on the U.S. Capitol, some conservatives are trying to shift blame from the dozens of pro-Trump protesters who stormed the building to a fictitious antifa boogeyman.
"Those who stormed the capitol yesterday were not Trump supporters," claimed Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. "They have been confirmed to be Antifa. Violence is not the answer."
Paxton's sentiments were echoed by other pro-Trump figures, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.), Rep. Mo Brooks (R–Ala.), and the conspiracist attorney L. Lin Wood, who touted "indisputable photographic evidence that antifa violently broke into Congress today." This assertion, like Wood's previous claims that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is part of a pedophile cabal and that Vice President Mike Pence will face execution by firing squad, is wrong, as are all other claims that antifa was responsible for the Capitol riot.
For one thing, this isn't antifa's m.o. Antifa protesters typically use "black bloc" tactics: They dress in black and conceal their faces with masks and hoods. Individuals will quickly smash windows and set fires, then blend back into a crowd of similarly dressed people. They don't aim to get caught.
The people who stormed the Capitol, by contrast, were captured in numerous photos and videos. Their faces are easily identifiable. Many are obviously sincere Trump supporters associated with the far right. Several of them, including "groyper" leaders Nick Fuentes and Baked Alaska, are well-known to the media by now. The woman who was sadly killed by police under circumstances that require further investigation was genuinely pro-Trump. The guy who sat in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's chair and stole her mail is definitely not antifa, nor is the half-naked fur-and-horns guy. This latter individual is named Jake Angeli, and he is a conspiracy theorist—the self-stylized "Q Shaman"—who has appeared at multiple Trump rallies.
I covered the unrest at the Capitol, and it's simply not possible that these acts of violence and property destruction were carried out by undercover antifa agents. The people smashing windows, climbing walls, and knocking down police barriers were often the leaders of the crowds; they were known to the other protesters. For these activists to be secret agents of the left would have required a covert operation far beyond antifa's capabilities, and at odds with antifa's typical behavior.
Andy Ngo, a writer with a record of harshly criticizing antifa, agrees.
"The people occupying the Capitol building do not look like antifa people dressed in Trump gear or Trump costumes," he told The Washington Examiner. "I have seen no evidence that they are able to coordinate a mass infiltration on this scale before, so I'm really skeptical that they would have been able to do it here without any of that information leaking out."
An article in The Washington Times claimed that a "facial recognition firm" had confirmed antifa's involvement in the attack. That article was debunked, and it has since been deleted.
Thousands of people were at the Capitol on Wednesday, and many of them caused trouble. It's possible that someone, somewhere, was trying to falsely pin a crime on a Trump supporter. But the many acts of violence and intimidation that transpired in the halls of Congress yesterday were overwhelmingly and provably committed by the president's most fervent supporters.