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The 32-year-old Arizona man’s identity was previously confirmed in reports by the Arizona Republic and other news outlets.
At one point during Wednesday’s siege, the man in the unusual get-up was shown standing triumphantly behind the speaker’s podium in the Senate chamber, where someone yelled, “Where’s Pence? Show yourself!”
Angeli was also wielding a spear with a sharp tip that had an American flag attached.
Angeli is described in the report as an avid Trump supporter and proponent of the QAnon conspiracy who has given speeches at numerous campaign rallies for the president. He appeared recently in a photograph smiling and shaking hands with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani during voter fraud proceedings in Arizona after the November election.
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An apparent right-wing attempt to muddy the man’s identity went viral after several lawmakers helped push the false notion that the Capitol uprising was being led by left-wing antifascists instead of the president’s supporters, the report said.
It’s unclear whether right-wing operatives targeted a known Trump supporter like Angeli to prop up as an agent for Antifa, or if the man’s costume just made him an easy target for memes because he was one of the more prominent figures in photographs from the raucous scene.
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Later in the day, an older photograph of Angeli at a Black Lives Matter protest last year emerged online, which many voices said proved Angeli was an Antifa provocateur and not a real Trump supporter. Some social media users worked up a side-by-side comparison of Angeli with the old photo juxtaposed with a frame of him from Wednesday’s chaos, which was then offered as proof of a conspiracy or at least proof that Angeli was a BLM protester.
However, the older BLM protest photo of Angeli circulating online was cropped to conceal a pro-QAnon sign he was carrying that day as a Trump counterprotester, reports said.
Fueling the conspiracy, Republican Congressmen Louie Gohmert and Mo Brooks went on Twitter to blame Antifa for the violent Capitol riot that left five dead and at least 60 jailed, reports said.
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More arrests were expected as investigators sort out the evidence of a chaotic day in the nation’s capital only two weeks before Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz continued to push the false Antifa claims on the House floor late Wednesday before a joint session of Congress finally affirmed Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Other prominent GOP voices also joined the misinformation campaign after a dubious but widely shared story by the right-leaning Washington Times that said two men in the Trump mob — including Angeli ― were actually Antifa interlopers identified by facial recognition company XRVision, according to several sources.
On a lighter note Thursday, the lead singer of the alternative band Jamiroquai Jay Kay was forced to go on social media to deny that he was the man seen wearing the buffalo-horned headdress at the U.S. Capitol a day earlier. Twitter sleuths were first to notice the 51-year-old’s apparent resemblance to Angeli, but the “Virtual Insanity” singer assured fans it wasn’t him.
“Good morning Washington, loving the headgear, but not sure that’s my crowd,” the singer tweeted Thursday, referring to the Viking in the melee.