Republican Michigan lawmaker, on hot mic, says he stands by statement calling Capitol riot a hoax

National Politics
Matt Shirkey

In this Feb. 12, 2019 file photo, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, watches during the State of the State address at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. Michigan lawmakers plan to convene for the first time in weeks to lengthen Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s emergency declaration amid the coronavirus pandemic but are at odds over the extension and whether the session is even necessary. The Republican-led Legislature is scheduled to meet Tuesday, April 7, 2020, three weeks after last voting. Shirkey’s spokeswoman said “He thinks we can come to some middle ground in terms of the extension, and that doesn’t preclude it from being extended again if were necessary at some point.”

Mike Shirkey, the Republican majority leader of the Michigan state senate, was caught on a hot mic Wednesday seemingly walking back an apology he made earlier this week for calling the riots at the U.S. Capitol a “hoax.”

Earlier this week, a video of Shirkey’s meeting with Republican leaders from Hillsdale County leaked in which Shirkey referred to the Jan. 6 riots as a “hoax,” and placed blame on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, claiming he “wanted to have a mess.”

On Tuesday, Shirkey apologized for those comments, saying that he “regrets the words that I chose and I apologize for my insensitive comments.”

But on Wednesday while on the Senate floor, Shirkey was caught on a hot mic appearing to completely walk back the apology he made the day before.

“Frankly, I don’t take back any of the points I was trying to make,” Shirkey said during a conversation with Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, a Democrat.

“I was really taken aback,” Gilchrist said. “The majority leader and I have a relationship where we can speak to each other one-on-one. I had given him a heads up that I was going to be making a public statement on comments that were released by him over the weekend.”

“I was not expecting him to come back and essentially renege on the apology that he had half-heartedly made the day before.”

Gilchrist later issued a press release, saying that Shirkey’s behavior “is beneath the office he was elected to and the standard of decency the people of our state deserve.”

“It is clear that his so-called apology was not heartfelt, nor did it come from a place of humility and understanding,” Gilchrist said. “Rather, it was an empty gesture made for political expediency, and one that the people of Michigan can see right through.”

Gilchrist called on Republican leaders in the Michigan legislature to publicly denounce Shirkey’s comments.

Shirkey’s views on the Capitol riot are just the latest controversy his recent comments have generated. He previously revealed in an interview on JTV’s Bart Hawley Show that he met with militia leaders before the FBI interrupted the plot to kidnap and potentially kill Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“The militia groups are getting a bad rap,” said Shirkey in the Sept. 10 interview, who characterized protests as having fringe elements that are not under the militia umbrella.

This story was originally published by WXYZ in Detroit.

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