Vivek Ramaswamy Doubles Down On Jan. 6 Conspiracy Theories

But CNN host Abby Philip wasn’t having any of it.
Vivek Ramaswamy said last week that the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol "now does look like an inside job." He stood by those remarks in a CNN town hall on Wednesday evening.
Vivek Ramaswamy said last week that the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol "now does look like an inside job." He stood by those remarks in a CNN town hall on Wednesday evening.
JIM WATSON via Getty Images

At a live CNN town hall on Wednesday evening, Vivek Ramaswamy, the biotech entrepreneur seeking the Republican presidential nomination, stood by his recent comments suggesting that the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, was an “inside job” that the federal government had an active role in fomenting.

CNN’s Abby Philip, who moderated the town hall at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, asked Ramaswamy how he felt about one of the Jan. 6 defendants accused of violence using Ramaswamy’s words about the insurrection at his sentencing the following day. Ramaswamy had made waves at the Dec. 6 GOP debate by declaring that he was the only person onstage willing to admit that “Jan. 6 now does look like an inside job.”

He said, “If you had told me [three years ago] that Jan. 6 was in any way an inside job, the subject of government entrapment, I would have told you that was crazy talk ― fringe, conspiracy theory nonsense. I can tell you now, having gone somewhat deep in this: It’s not.”

However, Ramaswamy stopped short of fully declaring the riot an “inside job” and instead signaled the theory’s validity with a just-asking-questions effort to underscore ways in which the government might have played a role.

He argued that the federal government’s alleged lies about the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the authenticity of Hunter Biden’s laptop and former President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to collude with Russia showed that the government is likely lying about Jan. 6 as well.

“Now we come to Jan. 6. The reality is we know that there were federal law enforcement agents in that field,” Ramaswamy said. “We don’t know how many.”

As Philip pushed back, Ramaswamy interjected to accuse her of “establishment” bias. “I know the establishment doesn’t approve of this message,” he said.

“We should be able to talk about this,” he added, drawing applause from the audience of Republican Iowa voters. “This is important to talk about.”

But Philip noted that “there is no evidence” of federal agents being in the crowd that stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. (FBI Director Christopher Wray has also testified before Congress that the agency was “emphatically not” part of the violence at the Capitol.)

Ramaswamy countered by claiming that the FBI had refused to say how many agents were involved in the events.

That claim omits critical context. When pressed on the matter by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) at a hearing in January 2022, a senior FBI official declined to state either how many FBI agents “actively participated” in the events of Jan. 6 or whether there were any FBI agents involved in the events, citing the FBI’s policy of not commenting on “the specifics of sources and methods.”

Philip also pointed out that the absence of some evidence to the contrary does not demonstrate the FBI’s involvement.

“Where’s the evidence that the government had a plot, an inside job, conspired to foment violence on Jan. 6?” she asked.

Ramaswamy responded that the government was involved through “entrapment,” a term for when the government tricks a person into committing a crime so they can be prosecuted for it.

But again, he summoned only circumstantial evidence to suggest that it is plausible that entrapment occurred. For example, he claimed that the U.S. Capitol Police’s unredacted footage, released in full by Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), revealed for the first time the extent to which Capitol Police welcomed the rioters into the building.

“Mr. Ramaswamy, the vast majority of the footage shows police officers being overrun by violent rioters,” Philip said, talking over Ramaswamy as he sought to interrupt.

Ramaswamy has just a few weeks left to convince Iowa caucus-goers to nominate him in the Jan. 15 caucuses. Public polling shows him in a distant fourth place in the state behind Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign responded to the town hall with a statement from Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who debated Ramaswamy at a November event in Manchester, New Hampshire.

“Vivek’s podcast of a campaign would be funny if it weren’t so deeply dangerous to our democracy. His town hall tonight was an exercise in bombastic rhetoric, offering zero solutions to the real issues that Americans demand action on,” said Khanna, a member of the Biden re-election campaign’s national advisory board. “It’s a shame that instead of trying to focus on the issues as he did with me at St. Anselm, he chose to engage in sensationalism for clicks that has become the currency to get ahead in today’s Republican Party.”

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