Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who spoke at the Washington rally that preceded a MAGA-hat wearing mob overrunning the U.S. Capitol, subsequently claimed without proof that the rioters "were not Trump supporters."
The remark, shared by Paxton on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, appears at odds with an earlier tweet urging those angry about Congress approving Joe Biden's electoral victory not to resort to violence.
During his speech, the embattled Republican AG — who led a Hail Mary attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the election results — urged the crowd to keep fighting to see that President Donald Trump is given a second term despite losing both the popular and electoral vote.
"What we have in President Trump is a fighter. And I think that’s why we’re all here," Paxton told attendees, according to the Texas Tribune. "We will not quit fighting. We’re Texans, we’re Americans, and the fight will go on."
After insurrectionists forced their way into the Capitol that afternoon, Paxton pulled a Twitter about-face, first appearing to urge calm by saying "I don't believe violence is the answer."
By early evening, however, Paxton had retweeted an allegation by far-right author Paul Sperry that "at least 1 'bus load' of [a]ntifa thugs" had intermingled with peaceful Trump supporters and ginned up the violence.
"These are not Trump supporters," Paxton tweeted in support.
These are not Trump supporters. pic.twitter.com/ptcNp2lzrG— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) January 6, 2021
Paxton's claim was similar to similar unsupported conspiracy theories that flooded the Twittersphere Wednesday, which seemed to be recycling a debunked claim Trump made in September that antifa had infiltrated demonstrations to stir up unrest.
Some 7,000 Twitter posts made reference to antifa supporters "posing" as Trump rioters, an NBC News analysis found. Some of those had thousands of likes and retweets.
Paxton again attempted to play both sides during a Wednesday night appearance on Fox Business, condemning the violence but refusing to acknowledge that Trump egged on the chaos.
Speculation has swirled in recent weeks that Paxton, now under indictment for securities fraud and reportedly being investigated by the FBI for abuse of office, is seeking a presidential pardon.
During his Fox Business camera time, Paxton first said Capitol rioters should be prosecuted. However, he subsequently refused to criticize the widely derided video message from the president urging protesters to "go home" even as he repeated false election claims and told them they were "very special."
"I think people are always open to criticism for how they present things, but I think, in this case, there is a lot of frustration in this country from people who do think the election wasn't done appropriately in many states," Paxton said. "There is a lot of questions about mail-in ballots and states that didn't follow their laws."
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