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Recent Jan. 6 Footage Misinterpreted; No Evidence of Undercover Federal Agent

by Chloe Baker
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Jan 6 Conspiracy Theory

A circulating claim asserts that security camera footage from January 6, 2021, reveals a federal agent masquerading as a supporter of former President Donald Trump during the U.S. Capitol breach.

However, AP’s evaluation categorically refutes this. The individual in the footage is Kevin James Lyons, a Chicago resident who was sentenced in July to over four years in federal prison for his participation in the incident. Court documents, containing various images of Lyons at the Capitol and wearing the same attire as seen in the video, corroborate this.

Some individuals, including congressional members, erroneously interpreted a specific segment of the footage as evidence of undercover federal agents’ involvement in the riot. The video, spanning 5 minutes and 31 seconds, captures the chaos in a Capitol hallway. At one point, 21 seconds in, a man emerges wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, a camouflage scarf, and a layered outfit. He is seen at the 36-second mark, revealing his palms with a small object in his right hand.

Social media posts have amplified this misinterpretation. One particular post, which garnered significant attention online, inaccurately identified the man as a disguised agent, pointing to his gesture as proof. Another post claimed it confirmed the theory of the riot being an FBI operation.

These assertions gained traction, with notable figures like Sen. Mike Lee of Utah sharing them. Lee’s post on his personal social media account had not been retracted as of the latest update and had accumulated substantial engagement.

Nonetheless, these claims are rooted in unfounded conspiracy theories about federal agents engineering the events of January 6. Lyons faced sentencing on July 14, receiving 51 months in prison for his role. The sentence stemmed from six charges, including obstructing an official proceeding. He is also required to pay restitution and undergo supervised release post-incarceration.

Court evidence includes images of Lyons in various locations within the Capitol, such as recording himself in then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and possessing a photograph from Pelosi’s office featuring her with the late Congressman John Lewis.

The object in Lyons’ hand during the video remains unidentified.

Senator Ron Johnson recently released approximately 90 hours of security footage from the January 6 event, with plans to release a much larger cache in the coming months. Over 1,500 individuals have been charged in relation to the Capitol riot, leading to a wide range of sentences.

AP’s ongoing effort to combat misinformation includes collaborations with external entities to provide accurate context to misleading online content. More information on AP’s fact-checking initiatives is available on their website.

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