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Democrats ask FBI to investigate 4 Arizona Republicans in connection with Jan. 6 riot
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Democrats ask FBI to investigate 4 Arizona Republicans in connection with Jan. 6 riot

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Finchem tweets from U.S. Capitol

Rep. Mark Finchem participated in the protest at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday and tweeted his support about an hour before rioters broke into the Capitol, leading to five deaths.

PHOENIX — Eight Democratic legislative leaders are asking the FBI and the Justice Department to investigate four Arizona Republican officials over their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 riot where protesters breached the U.S. Capitol, resulting in five deaths.

In their letter, the Democrats say that state Rep. Mark Finchem of Oro Valley and now-former state Rep. Anthony Kern of Glendale were present in Washington, D.C., “and actively encouraged the mob, both before and during the attack on the the Capitol.”

Finchem and Kern “sought to conceal the consequences of their conduct by falsely blaming ‘Antifa,’” the letter says.

President Donald Trump was impeached by the U.S. House for a historic second time Wednesday, charged with "incitement of insurrection" over the deadly mob siege of the Capitol in a swift and stunning collapse of his final days in office.

Additionally, the Democrats’ claims against GOP U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar stem from a claim by Ali Alexander, who organized the “Stop the Steal” movement, that he worked with them and Alabama U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks on the plan for the Jan 6. demonstration.

“We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander said in a now-deleted video on Periscope.

The Washington Post reported Alexander said the plan was to “change the hearts and minds of Republicans who were in that body, hearing our loud roar from outside.”

“They did all of this in public,” wrote the eight Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding of Laveen and Senate Minority Leader Rebecca Rios of Phoenix. “What they did outside of plain view we do not yet know.”

But they said there is “evidence” that the four “encouraged, facilitated, participated and possibly helped plan this anti-democratic insurrection on January 6.”

“It is vital to any current or future federal investigations, and ultimately to the Arizona public they represent, that we learn what these elected officials knew about this planned insurrection and when they knew it,” they wrote.

None of the four responded to requests for comment.

But Biggs, in a statement to the Washington Post by an aide, denied ever having been in contact with Alexander, “let alone working with him to organize some part of a planned protest.”

The letter provides no evidence that either Finchem or Kern were involved in trespassing at the Capitol. And Biggs and Gosar were inside the building during the Jan. 6 session.

Nor is there anything specific saying they were part of any plan to breach the Capitol.

But the Democrats say that some of the people in Washington were clearly there with something more than peaceful protests in mind.

“Many in the mob wore military or police tactical gear and carried zip-tie restraints, signaling a high level of preparation and coordination for the events that occurred,” they said.

They are suggesting that, at the least, it was the actions and rhetoric of the four Arizona Republicans — and potentially others — that led to what happened.

“For weeks prior to the breach, a group of Republican Arizona legislators and legislators-elect publicly advocated for the overthrow of the election results which encouraged precisely the kind of violent conduct that we witnessed,” the Democrats wrote.

The others signing the letter were Tucsonans Sen. Victoria Steele and Rep. Domingo DeGrazia, along with Reps. Athena Salman and Jennifer L. Longdon and Sens. Lupe Contreras and Martin Quezada.

Finchem in particular sought to get people to the rally.

On Twitter, he promoted that day’s 9 a.m. speech by President Trump on the Ellipse, followed by the 1 p.m. demonstration at the Capitol building.

The day before the riot, Finchem sent out a picture of himself “holding the line in D.C.”

And in a separate post he asked whether the country will become “a republic in name only, or will we as a nation governed through consent of the governed realize our full potential, fighting off those who would pervert our national design?”

During the rally — before there were disturbances — Finchem sent out a picture of people on the steps of the Capitol, saying this is “what happens when the people feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”

Then, as people began breaking into buildings, Finchem sent out another post of a photo of the melee — but with a caption, “Trump supporters stop Antifa from breaking into Capitol.”

Finchem in particular has adopted a stance since the riot that none of this was the fault of supporters of the president or those who were pushing Congress to overturn the election returns, but of left-wing agitators, despite numerous reports rejecting that narrative.

Capitol Media Services asked Finchem on Monday what credible evidence he has to back his claims. “Try the Capitol police and the FBI,” he responded.

The FBI itself has rejected the whole idea. At a press briefing late last week, a reporter asked if antifa activists had disguised themselves as Trump supporters during the riot.

“We have no indication of that at this time,”’ said Steven D’Antuono, the FBI Washington field office assistant director.

And Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, also said he saw no evidence antifa was involved in the riot.

The Washington Times, a conservative publication that had promoted the idea of antifa, removed an article it had written claiming that a company that does facial recognition through software identified antifa members as infiltrating Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. The company had denied the claim.

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