Top Michigan Republican stands by Capitol 'hoax' comments

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — One of Michigan's highest-ranking Republicans on Wednesday stood by his false claims that it is a “hoax” to blame supporters of President Donald Trump for the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, in a conversation with Democratic Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II on the Senate rostrum, said: “I frankly don't take back any of the points I was trying to make” but rather “some of the words I chose.” He said the siege was “very real, but the assignment of cause — that was planned weeks and months in advance.”

Shirkey apologized Tuesday after the release of a video in which he told Republicans last week that the Jan. 6 protest “wasn't Trump people. That's been a hoax from day one. That was all prearranged.” The statement did not specify the remarks for which he was apologizing, however. He did not speak to reporters following session on Wednesday.

In the contentious meeting on Feb. 3, Hillsdale County GOP leaders spoke with Shirkey at a restaurant a day before they censured him for a number of reasons, including backing a ban on the open carry of guns in the Statehouse and allegedly not doing enough to fight Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Earlier Wednesday, Shirkey told a liberal activist who confronted him in Lansing that he was saying the hoax was “the fact that it was blamed on Trump. The actual event was very real and very, very unfortunate.”

Trump's second impeachment trial is underway. Democrats say the former president was responsible for inciting his mob of backers who broke into the Capitol and interrupted the presidential electoral count. Five people died, including a police officer.

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