Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey caught on video calling Capitol attack a 'hoax'

  • Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey was recorded spreading conspiracies about the Capitol riot.
  • The video emerged a day before he was censured by the Hillsdale County Republican Party for “complete surrender” to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
  • In the video, Shirkey defends rioters and makes sexist comments about Whitmer.
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Michigan’s most powerful Republican state official Mike Shirkey was recorded pushing various conspiracies about the Capitol insurrection on January 6, and making lewd comments about Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Shirkey was attending a meeting with Hillsdale County Republican Party, a day before the local party would censure him for not standing up to state Democrats and Whitmer. 

The video, posted by a group called R.O.A.R (Reclaim Our American Republic), was first reported by the Detroit Metro Times, runs for an hour, and features a tense back-and-forth between the local party officials and Shirkey. 

According to the Detroit Free Press, on Tuesday, Hillsdale County Republican Party Chair Daren Wiseley told the outlet that he met with Shirkey alongside Hillsdale County Republican Party secretary Jon Smith and party vice-chair Lance Lashaway. Smith told the Free Press that he recorded and uploaded the video.

On February 4, a day after the video surfaced, the Hillsdale County Republican Party censured Shirkey for supporting a ban on firearms at the Michigan Capitol building, as well as for a “complete and utter surrender to Governor Gretchen Whitmer”. 

“That’s been a hoax from day one. It was all staged,” Shirkey tells the officials in the video, adding that the January 6 rioters were not “Trump people.” Later in the same video, Shirkey conceded Trump supporters were among the mob but said they were “caught up in the emotion.” 

Claims that the insurrection was staged by antifa are false. On January 6, hundreds of pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol on January 6 to disrupt Congress’ certification of the Electoral College results. 

The New York Times did an expose on Shirkey’s ties to militias in Michigan, where he also expressed empathy for the rioters who stormed the Capitol on January 6.

The House impeached Trump for his incitement of the attack, and his impeachment trial is currently underway in the Senate. 

In the video, Shirkey pushed another conspiracy about “darker forces” at play around the insurrection. “I think there are people above elected officials,” Shirkey said.

One Hillsdale official asks, “George Soros?” and Shirkey responds, “I don’t know, people like him. There are puppeteers.”

“I think they wanted to have a mess,” Shirkey told the officials, implicating Mitch McConnell as well. In the video, the Michigan senate majority leader also expressed frustration at Rudy Giuliani’s failed legal efforts in Michigan and concedes that Trump lost Michigan.

In another section of the video, Shirkey also makes sexist comments about Whitmer.

Shirkey said, “we’ve spanked her hard on budget, spanked her hard on appointments.” He then makes a violent joke to one of the officials, saying, “I did contemplate, once or twice, I did contemplate inviting her to a fistfight on the Capitol lawn.”

“She might whoop your ass,” the county official replies. 

Bobby Leddy, a spokesman for Whitmer, told the Free Press: “It’s disappointing that Sen. Shirkey is spending his time on political potshots, indulging conspiracy theories, and expressing empathy for the insurrection at the US Capitol building.”

On Tuesday, Shirkey issued a short and general apology, which did not address specific comments he made in the Hillsdale video. 

“I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve. I own that,” Shirkey said. “I have many flaws. Being passionate coupled with an occasional lapse in restraint of tongue are at least two of them. I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.” 

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