Right-wing media see baseless conspiracy theories in the FBI arrest of Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley
On June 9, Michigan Republican gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley was arrested on misdemeanor charges related to his alleged participation in the January 6 insurrection. Since his detainment, right-wing media figures have spewed various conspiracy theories about the motives behind Kelley’s arrest, suggesting that Democrats are trying to imprison their political opponents and that Kelley’s charges were meant to set a “predicate” for the first public January 6 committee hearing.
There is no evidence that Kelley’s arrest was connected to the timing of the January 6 committee hearing or was part of a Democrat conspiracy to imprison political opponents.
The charges against Kelley allege “trespassing, disorderly conduct, committing an act of violence against a person or property on restricted grounds, and depredation of federal property.” He faces up to one year in prison.
According to the FBI criminal complaint, Kelley can be seen gesturing at insurrectionists to direct them toward the Capitol building in this video:
Kelley was also reportedly caught on video yelling “This is war, baby” during the riot:
Right-wing figures pushing conspiracy theories about Kelley’s arrest
Kelley appeared on the June 13 edition of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight and agreed with Carlson there is a “political motive” behind his arrest. Kelley added that there is “no coincidence in the timing” and claimed that his detainment was “in alignment with all of this political theater” of the January 6 committee hearing.
During a June 9 segment covering Kelley’s arrest on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox correspondent Kevin Corke asserted that “critics suggest” that the timing of his arrest is “suspicious.”
Corke said that Kelley’s arrest “perhaps is meant to give Democrats something to crow about as they stage their made-for-TV January 6 committee event tonight.”
Fox News host Jesse Watters suggested that Kelley’s arrest timing is “suspicious” because “the Democrats are gearing up for their prime-time January 6 spectacle.”
On June 9, former Trump aide Steve Bannon described Kelley’s arrest as a “predicate” for the first January 6 committee hearing.
Bannon also spoke with Kelley during a June 11 interview, saying his arrest was a conspiracy meant to “embarrass” and “humiliate” him during his race against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), whom Bannon said he could “defeat at the polls easily.”
Kelley responded, “You’re correct. They know that I’m a threat.” He added that “the timing is no coincidence.”
On June 13, Kelley appeared on Newsmax to claim “the timing” is “no coincidence” because of the January 6 committee hearings.
Kelley pointed to a joke President Joe Biden made during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to suggest that Biden wants to arrest political opponents.
Right-wing radio host Glenn Beck suggested that Kelley’s arrest is part of a conspiracy meant “to destroy the GOP and anybody that stands against Whitmer.”
Far-right YouTuber Tim Pool claimed that the FBI may be “trumping up charges” against Kelley because he is “polling highest” in the Republican race to face Whitmer.