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Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy speaks Dec. 6, 2023, during a Republican presidential primary at the University of Alabama. (AP) Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy speaks Dec. 6, 2023, during a Republican presidential primary at the University of Alabama. (AP)

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy speaks Dec. 6, 2023, during a Republican presidential primary at the University of Alabama. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman December 7, 2023

Ramaswamy’s Pants on Fire debate claim that Jan. 6 was an ‘inside job’

If Your Time is short

  • Hundreds of rioters, many wearing Trump-branded apparel, stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
  • Claims that Jan. 6, 2021, was a false flag orchestrated by the FBI have been debunked.

  • Evidence from court documents shows that the rioters’ goal was to prevent Congress from accepting the results of the election showing that Donald Trump had lost.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy portrayed himself as a truth-teller during the fourth presidential primary debate in Alabama.

"If you want somebody who’s gonna speak truth to power, then vote for somebody who’s gonna speak the truth to you," he said Dec. 6 in Tuscaloosa. But he followed that statement with false claims and a conspiracy theory.

"Why am I the only person on the stage at least who can say that Jan. 6 now does look like it was an inside job," he said. Ramaswamy then listed a heap of questionable, misleading and wrong comments, including that the 2020 election was "stolen by Big Tech."

The Jan. 6 claim is extraordinarily egregious. 

Numerous investigations have found the U.S. Capitol attack was orchestrated and executed by people who supported Donald Trump’s presidency and believed or pushed false claims that the 2020 election was "stolen." Although evidence shows FBI informants were at the Capitol that day, none shows the FBI or its informants instigated the violence that followed.

Evidence from court documents shows, person by person, who ransacked the Capitol and fought with police officers. The rioters’ goal was preventing Congress from accepting the results of the election showing that Trump had lost. Officials have charged more than 1,200 defendants, more than two-thirds of whom have pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial so far.

In 17 key findings, the House committee investigating the attack determined Trump himself disseminated false allegations about the election and summoned supporters to the Capitol and directed them to "take back" the country.

We contacted a Ramaswamy’s campaign spokesperson on debate night and did not immediately hear back.

The public record for hundreds of defendants shows that many considered their actions patriotic; they believed they were on the front lines of a revolution or civil war. Rioters scaled walls, broke windows, forced their way into the building and clashed with police.

Among people sentenced for seditious conspiracy are multiple members of far-right groups including the Proud Boys extremist group and militia groups including the Oath Keepers

How we’ve fact-checked similar claims

Similar claims about Jan. 6 being a "false flag" took off in the months after the insurrection following a blog post by Revolver News, a right-leaning website run by a former Trump White House speechwriter who was fired in 2018 after appearing on a discussion panel with a white nationalist.

The website’s unproven theory focused on charging documents and that the FBI had used informants and undercover operatives to foil an extremist plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

A cursory look showed the theory was rife with holes, inaccuracies and circumstantial speculation, which was amplified by multiple pundits and politicians. PolitiFact rated the claim that federal agents directly incited people as False

In late November, PolitiFact examined a claim by U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., about "ghost buses" carrying undercover FBI agents to the Capitol that day. We rated the unsupported claim False, with experts telling us they were unfamiliar with the term "ghost bus" and that there are reasons the FBI would not bus a group of informants to an event.

PolitiFact named claims that downplay the violence about the Jan. 6 attack its 2021 Lie of the Year.

Our ruling

Ramaswamy said, "Jan. 6 now does look like it was an inside job."

Numerous investigations into what happened Jan. 6, 2021, including by a congressional committee, have found the U.S. Capitol attack was orchestrated and executed by people who supported Donald Trump’s presidency and believed or pushed false claims that the 2020 election was "stolen." Extensive court records involving more than 1,200 defendants also back this up.

The onus is on Ramaswamy to back up his statement with evidence, and he has failed to do that. 

We rate this statement Pants on Fire!

RELATED: Live fact-checking the fourth 2024 Republican presidential primary debate

RELATED: Why a Republican's claim about ‘ghost buses’ of FBI informants on Jan. 6 is dubious

RELATED: All of our fact-checks about Jan. 6

RELATED: The 2021 Lie of the Year: Lies about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and its significance

Our Sources

C-SPAN, Secretary Mayorkas and FBI Director Wray testify on global threats, Part 1, Nov. 15, 2023

New York Times, F.B.I. had Informants in Proud Boys, court papers suggest, Nov. 14, 2023

New York Times, Among those who marched Into the Capitol on Jan. 6: An F.B.I. informant, Sept. 25, 2021

AP, Proud Boys’ Tarrio guilty of Jan. 6 seditious conspiracy, May 4, 2023

HuffPost, Clay Higgins claims ‘ghost buses’ brought FBI informants to Washington on Jan. 6, Nov. 15, 2023

Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Final report, Dec. 22, 2022

U.S. Senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs majority staff report, Planned in Plain sight a review of the intelligence failures in advance of January 6th, 2021, June 2023

Select January 6th Committee, Final Report and Supporting Materials Collection, Dec. 22, 2022

Washington Post, Tough-talking captain in Louisiana sheriff’s office resigns after calling black suspects ‘animals’ in viral video, Feb. 29, 2016

San Antonio Express-News, The Go-To Guy; Stealth cars on patrol, Aug. 2, 2009

FBI media office, Statement to PolitiFact, Nov. 17, 2023

The Washington Post, Tough-talking captain in Louisiana sheriff’s office resigns after calling black suspects ‘animals’ in viral video, Feb. 29, 2016

Graphic Designs International, Why ghost police car graphics are becoming so popular, June 10, 2021

WUSA 9, Montgomery County Police deploy hard-to-see 'ghost cruisers' to catch dangerous drivers, July 28, 2023

Newsweek, Proud Boys attorney wants to unmask informants during Jan. 6 trial, April 6, 2023

Committee on the Judiciary, Steven D’Antuono, June 7, 2023

U.S. District Court District of Columbia, US vs Nordean et al, Motion to compel all confidential human sources of homeland security April 5, 2023

Justice Department, 34 Months Since the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol, Nov. 6, 2023

PolitiFact, No, the Capitol insurrection was not staged by antifa, Jan. 8, 2021

PolitiFact, There’s no proof antifa stormed the Capitol. The rumor spread quickly anyway, Jan. 7, 2021

PolitiFact, How new Jan. 6 revelations on Ray Epps, others undercut Tucker Carlson’s FBI conspiracy theory, Jan. 18, 2022

PolitiFact, Ray Epps didn’t tell Congress he orchestrated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. Here’s what he did say, Jan. 6, 2023

PolitiFact, Tucker Carlson’s conspiracy theory about FBI and Jan. 6 continues to be wrong, Nov. 4, 2021

PolitiFact, Tucker Carlson film falsely claims Jan. 6 is ‘pretext to strip millions’ of ‘constitutional rights,’ Nov. 2, 2021

PolitiFact, Yes, Jan. 6 Capitol assault was an "armed insurrection," Feb. 15, 2021 

PolitiFact, Ask PolitiFact: Did Capitol Police let mob of Trump supporters in? Jan. 7, 2021

PolitiFact, The 2021 Lie of the Year: Lies about the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and its significance, Dec. 15, 2021

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Thirty-four months since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, accessed Nov. 6, 2023

PolitiFact, GOP Texas House candidate repeats false claim that FBI agents instigated Jan. 6 attack on US Capitol, Feb. 7, 2022

C-SPAN, House Homeland Security Hearing on global terror threats, Nov. 15, 2022

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Capitol rioters feel betrayed by Trump, lawyer says, Jan. 22, 2021

The Anti-Defamation League, Three Percenters, accessed Nov. 20, 2023

The Intercept, Trevor Aaronson, accessed Nov. 20, 2023

PolitiFact, A day of crisis at the US Capitol, fact-checked, Jan. 6, 2021

Government Accountability Office, Capitol attack: Federal agencies identified some threats, but did not fully process and share information prior to Jan. 6, 2021, February 2023

The New York Times, Final report from the Jan. 6 committee, Dec. 22, 2022

The New York Times, F.B.I. had informants in Proud Boys, court papers suggest, Nov. 14, 2022

The New York Times, In Proud Boys Jan. 6 sedition trial, F.B.I. informants abound, March 24, 2023

The New York Times, Among those who marched into the Capitol on Jan. 6: an F.B.I. informant, Sept. 25, 2021

PolitiFact, Misinformation and the Jan. 6 insurrection: When ‘patriot warriors’ were fed lies, June 30, 2021

U.S. Justice Department Office of Public Affairs, Four additional Oath Keepers sentenced for seditious conspiracy related to U.S. Capitol breach, June 2, 2023

PolitiFact, What the Jan. 6 hearings revealed about Trump’s actions before and after the Capitol attack, Dec. 9, 2022

NPR, Proud Boys leaders sentenced to a combined 32 years for Jan. 6 riot, Aug. 31, 2023

Clay Higgins congressional website, Higgins warns conservatives against "Falling for the trap the DOJ/FBI has set," June 11, 2023

KALB, Congressman Clay Higgins asks judge for leniency for Jan. 6 rioter, Nov. 13, 2023

Louisiana Illuminator, Rep. Clay Higgins posts cryptic tweet after Trump indictment, June 9, 2023

 

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