State Senate Republican Leader Shannon Grove of Bakersfield is under fire for tweeting a conspiracy theory that the rioters who stormed the U. S. Capitol Wednesday were actually members of the far left-wing group Antifa in disguise.
She later deleted the tweet.
The rioters, many of whom carried pro-Trump banners, attacked and breached the Capitol building after Trump exhorted them to act.
The assault delayed the formal certification of the election of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
Grove had retweeted a comment from Lin Wood, a lawyer and supporter of President Trump, who claimed the incursion of the Capitol was instigated by Antifa.
Wood’s tweet, which characterized the pro-Trump rioters as “patriots,” included photographs that Wood asserted showed “indisputable photographic evidence” of Antifa participation.
Grove, a Trump supporter, said in her retweet that, “Patriots don’t act like this!!! This was Antifa.”
After she deleted the tweet, Grove described the rioting as “unacceptable and unAmerican,” adding in a statement that “This is the way Antifa behaves.”
Wood’s original tweet included a photo of several rioters from inside the Capitol and an earlier photo that appears to show one of the same men, who has since been identified as Jason Tankersley.
Wood implied that Tankersley, a prominent neo-Nazi, actually is a member of Antifa.
The earlier photo in Wood’s tweet shows Tankersley arm-in-arm with Nazi Matthew Heimbach, the organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The photo appears to have been sourced from a Philadelphia Antifa website that outs white supremacists.
The other identifiable man in the Capitol photo, dressed in animal skins and horns, and wearing stars-and-stripes facepaint, is Jake Angeli, an Arizona follower of the right-wing conspiracist group QAnon.
A number of people have called for Grove’s resignation over the tweet, including the Lincoln Project’s Mike Madrid.
“California Senate GOP leader @shannongrove should resign or be recalled. She’s a disgrace to us all,” he posted on Twitter.
Grove has repeatedly endorsed President Trump’s debunked claims of election fraud on her social media accounts and traveled to the White House in December to “Celebrate Christmas with President Donald J Trump and our beautiful First Lady.”
“Some are taking my words the wrong way, so I am going to be very clear here: I unequivocally condemn any act of violence,” Grove wrote today on her Facebook page. “I did so when Antifa attacked Portland and Seattle and I am doing so again with the attack we witnessed today.”
Wood has a history of inflammatory and unsubstantiated claims, and was given a 12-hour ban from the twitter platform today.
The suspension followed Wood’s calls today for the arrest of Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and the resignation of Chief Justice John Roberts.