A Republican state senator who was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 appears in videos and images that contradict his claims that he never breached police lines and left the area before violence broke out.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, whose campaign spent thousands on buses to ferry supporters to D.C. for the rally that led to the attack, said after the riot that he did not enter the Capitol, walk on its steps or go beyond police lines; and that he left the area with his wife “when it was apparent that this was no longer a peaceful protest.” He released a statement at the time condemning the violence and calling for those who broke the law to be prosecuted.
But in videos analyzed by members of the online “Sedition Hunters” community and posted on social media over the weekend, Mastriano and his wife appeared to be in a crowd as it breached a police line. Mastriano was wearing one of his campaign hats and a dark-green scarf on the day.
In another clip, time-stamped at 1:59 p.m. in ProPublica’s database of Jan. 6 Parler videos, Mastriano and his wife appear to be walking just feet from the Capitol’s main steps.
According to a New York Times timeline, the mob reached the doors on the west side of the building at 2:10 p.m., though violent clashes with police had been taking place for more than an hour at that time. At 2:11, the mob broke into the building.
Mastriano’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Earlier this month, investigative journalists at PA Spotlight published audio from a Jan. 13 interview with Mastriano on a right-wing radio show. While downplaying his involvement, Mastriano gave a play-by-play of his movements around the Capitol grounds on Jan. 6 and openly admitted to seeing multiple efforts by agitators to rattle police. He said he saw “agitators run over to the steps and start pushing police up the steps” before leaving.
He was later pictured in a Facebook image posted by former Pennsylvania state Rep. Rick Saccone, who wrote in another post that was later deleted: “We are storming the capitol. Our vanguard has broken thru the barricades. We will save this nation. Are u with me?”
Mastriano distanced himself from Saccone in the interview, claiming he saw him on his way out. “I don’t know him real well,” he said.
This month, Mastriano posed for a photo with another extremist, as first reported by HuffPost. He was pictured at a political event with Samuel Lazar, a militant supporter of former President Donald Trump whose photo is included on the FBI’s Capitol riot wanted list.
In the months leading up to the attack, Mastriano repeatedly stoked the false stolen-election narrative and spread disinformation about the 2020 election. He boasted of numerous conversations with Trump about efforts to overturn the results, and visited the White House for one such discussion in November ― though he tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to leave.
The senator also led a series of protests opposing COVID-19 mitigation strategies in his state last year.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the news organization PA Spotlight as Spotlight PA, which is a different outlet.
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