May 16, 2021 - Politics & Policy

GOP Rep. Fred Upton: Republicans downplaying Jan. 6 riot is "absolutely bogus"

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) denounced his Republican colleagues' attempts to downplay the Jan. 6 insurrection as "absolutely bogus," during an interview Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union".

Why it matters: Several GOP lawmakers have attempted to downplay the Jan. 6 insurrection, which left five people dead. by saying the mob was similar to "a normal tourist visit" and calling pro-Trump rioters "peaceful patriots."

  • One lawmaker suggested the massive federal investigation into hundreds of suspects charged in connection with the attack — which the Department of Justice has labeled as likely its most complex investigation to date — as a national harassment campaign, per AP.

What he's saying: "It's absolutely bogus. I was there, I watched a number of the folks walk down to the White House and then back," Upton said Sunday. "I've got a balcony on my office. I saw them go down, I heard the noise, the flash bangs, smelled some of the gas as it moved my way."

  • "Obviously I was watching the live video that was carried on all the networks at the time," he said. "Talked to a number of the SWAT team members after it was over, obviously talked to some of my colleagues who were in the chamber."
  • "And I spent some time with Officer Fanone ... I saw first-hand what that was, and it did not change my opinion from what I personally saw on January 6th," he said, referring to the body camera footage of D.C. Metro Police officer Michael Fanone, in which he pled with the mob to let him go as he screamed in pain.

"I don't know what their motivation is," Upton said about members who have downplayed the riot. "But I know that as I talked to some colleagues, even this week, who were in the chamber, it was terribly frightening ... it was chilling what happened."

What to watch: House negotiators reached an agreement last week on the parameters of a bipartisan 9/11-style commission to investigate the "facts and circumstances" surrounding the Jan. 6 attack.

Go deeper