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Michigan state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said that the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol was a “hoax” that was staged by former President Donald Trump’s opponents in a recorded video.

Shirkey, a Republican, made the baseless claim while speaking with leaders of the Hillsdale County Republican Party. Leaders reportedly threatened to censure Shirkey for not siding strongly enough with Trump, and ultimately voted to do so on Tuesday.

The conversation and recording were first reported by the Metro Times.

“That wasn’t Trump’s people. That’s been a hoax from day one. That was all prearranged,” Shirkey said in the video. “It was arranged by someone who was funding it. … It was all staged.”

There is no evidence that the riot was planned ahead of time by Trump’s opponents, and multiple people who stormed the Capitol have said that they did so because of Trump. The former president also told his supporters to march to the Capitol on Jan. 6, and was impeached by the House of Representatives one week later on a charge of inciting the insurrection.

Shirkey also suggested that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took part in staging the riot, saying that he thought “they wanted to have a mess.”

“They would have had to recruit this other group of people,” he said in the video. “I think there are people above elected officials. There are puppeteers.”

Shirkey also said in the video that Trump “very well could have gotten the election stolen,” but offered no additional evidence and said that he did not believe the baseless theories surrounding Dominion Voting Systems’ machines switching votes from Trump to President Joe Biden.

Following the Metro Times’ story, Shirkey released a statement apologizing for his remarks.

“I said some things in a videoed conversation that are not fitting for the role I am privileged to serve. I own that. I have many flaws,” Shirkey said. “I regret the words I chose, and I apologize for my insensitive comments.

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