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On Jan. 6, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) walked outside the U.S. Capitol, turned to a crowd of protesters and infamously saluted them with a raised fist before going inside to try to throw out November’s election results. 

About an hour later, some of those protesters broke through police barricades and stormed up the steps of the Capitol, where the mob smashed on the door until they gained entry to the building and a melee with law enforcement awaited. 

But it’s ridiculous for Hawley to suggest he waved to a peaceful crowd and that he couldn’t possibly know if any of those people were part of the insurrection after he went inside. Photos and videos from that day show that many people on the east side of the Capitol were eager participants in the day’s events. HuffPost, working with members of the Sedition Hunters community and the group Capitol Terrorists Exposers, endeavored to help Hawley resolve the question of whether he’d saluted rioters on Jan. 6. The conclusion? He did. 

Hawley waved to the crowd from across the Capitol plaza shortly before 1 p.m. At a distance of about 200 feet, it would have been tough for him to see all the people very clearly.  

Most of the fighting and violence happened on the west side of the Capitol, but protesters on the east side, where Hawley raised his fist, also fought police. Roughly an hour after Hawley’s appearance, at the same location, violent rioters pushed past the barricades and a massive crowd flooded toward the building’s center steps, as seen in the video below. Few stayed behind. 

So what did Hawley see? He said Tuesday that when he stood there an hour before the riot exploded, he saw “demonstrators who were out there on the far end of the plaza on the east side standing behind barricades waving American flags,” adding that they had every right to be there.

Pro-Trump protesters had the right to demonstrate outside of the barriers that surrounded the Capitol complex ― but not to blow past those security barriers and enter restricted grounds, overwhelm law enforcement and break into the building. Under normal circumstances, it would’ve earned them a pair of flex cuffs courtesy of the U.S. Capitol Police.

The violent rioters at the front of the mob used the size of the crowd to their advantage, telling cops there was nothing they could do to stop them. Eventually, the Capitol attackers, once again backed by a mob of thousands, fought their way to a Capitol entrance and engaged in a lengthy, violent battle. Several officers were dragged into the crowd and beaten by Trump supporters who thought they were fighting for America. 

The defendant later claimed to the FBI that he regretted not helping Fanone. Some of the other members of the mob did eventually come to Fanone’s aid. He survived. But by joining the mob that was storming the Capitol, the illegal protesters had contributed to a situation that left Fanone fighting for his life.

Fanone has become one of the most recognizable victims of the pro-Trump mob, and he recently called out politicians who (like Hawley) have attempted to “whitewash” and “downplay” what happened on Jan. 6.

This content was originally published here.

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