While publicly condemning the violence at the U.S. Capitol, Virginia Republican Party Chair Rich Anderson claimed on social media Thursday there is anecdotal evidence that “antifa” helped storm the Capitol building, despite law-enforcement’s assertions there is no evidence they played a role in the attack.
U.S. Department of Justice officials told reporters on Friday that there is no indication that anti-fascist activists were involved in the Capitol attack that left five dead, including a Capitol police officer.
Anderson, a former Woodbridge-area state delegate, said in a private group Facebook post Thursday that he was informed by people present during the attack that the group leading the charge in the Capitol building used the “signature” tactics of “antifa and other leftist groups.”
“Last night and this morning, I spoke to Virginia Republicans who were present on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and who personally witnessed the group that led the penetration of the U.S. Capitol,” Anderson wrote. “... According to these eyewitness accounts from who I know and trust, this group appeared to employ the signature strategies of antifa and other leftist groups.”
In the post, Anderson also expressed his strong support for President Donald Trump and for “the thousands who rallied peacefully” on Wednesday. “I worked my fingers to the bone on [Trump’s] behalf, first as a member of the General Assembly and then as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia,” he wrote.
Anderson declined to answer questions about the social media post Friday but noted that he believes the “full picture of what transpired on Capitol Hill is still taking shape.”
“Investigations in the coming days will look into fixing responsibility and pursuing follow-on prosecutions of violent actors,” Anderson said in an email.
Numerous livestreamed videos and photos showed thousands of pro-Trump supporters attacking and breaching the Capitol building on Wednesday. The attackers were caught on video smashing windows, fighting with police officers and trashing the offices of elected officials.
A Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, 42, of Springfield, was killed inside the building after reportedly being bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher. A woman trying to force her way through a broken window inside the building was shot and killed by Capitol police. Three others involved in the attack died after experiencing medical emergencies, according to law enforcement.
In a public statement Wednesday, Anderson condemned “in the strongest possible terms” the violence that occurred on Wednesday.
“They neither represent nor speak for the Republican Party of Virginia, our fellow citizens, or any civilized people. They do not reflect our views, our values, or the Republican Creed. I and Virginia Republicans across our great commonwealth condemn these despicable acts without reservation or hesitation,” Anderson’s statement said.
But Anderson said on Friday that he would not be commenting on the attack on the Capitol for the “foreseeable future.”
“I think it’s time for all parties to tame their tongues, lower the temperature, and let healing begin,” Anderson said. “… I won’t add to that by speaking further on the Capitol tragedy during an extraordinarily divisive time in the life of our country. The war of words about Wednesday’s tragedy must cease so that investigations may proceed, facts are established, and truth has emerged.”
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