Newly released Jan. 6 footage does not show a federal agent flashing his badge while undercover

CLAIM: Security camera footage from Jan. 6, 2021, shows a federal agent disguised as a supporter of then-President Donald Trump during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The footage shows Kevin James Lyons, a Chicago man who was sentenced in July to more than four years in federal prison for his role in the attack. Multiple images of Lyons at the Capitol, dressed as he is in the footage, appear in court documents.

THE FACTS: After House Speaker Mike Johnson on Friday began releasing thousands of hours of footage from the Capitol insurrection, social media users — including members of Congress — seized on a clip they claimed proved that undercover federal agents participated in the riot.

The video, which is 5 minutes and 31 seconds long, shows rioters and law enforcement personnel moving through a hallway in the Capitol. At 21 seconds into the video, a man appears from behind a column wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat, a camouflage scarf covering most of his face, and a dark blue sweatshirt layered over a green sweatshirt. He walks toward the camera, flashing his palms at the 36-second mark with a small object in his right hand.

“And that ladies and gentlemen is a badge… with a red hat and fully disguised,” reads one post on X that shared a screenshot of the footage paused as Lyons is flashing his palms. It had received approximately 17,000 likes and 9,500 shares as of Tuesday.

Another post on X stated: “See the ‘agent’ dressed up as a ‘MAGA’ supporter, flashing his badge at the camera. Proves what we already knew. Jan 6 was an FBI job.”

The claim was shared by lawmakers, including Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah. Lee’s tweet, posted to his personal X account, was still live on Tuesday with more than 20,000 likes and shares.

A spokesperson for Lee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But these claims play on enduring conspiracy theories about federal agents orchestrating the events of Jan. 6.

Lyons was sentenced on July 14 to 51 months in federal prison for the part he played in the riot. Court documents include multiple images of Lyons inside the Capitol, dressed in the same outfit as in the security footage.

For example, one shows Lyons recording himself in a mirror in the office of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In another, he sits in a car holding a framed photograph from Pelosi’s office, which shows her with the late Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights movement icon who died in July 2020.

It is unclear exactly what Lyons is holding in his right hand when he flashes his palms.

Lyons was convicted in April of six charges, including obstruction of an official proceeding. In addition to prison time, he was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution to the Architect of the Capitol and complete 36 months of supervised release.

Johnson on Friday publicly released about 90 hours of security footage from the Jan. 6 attack. An additional 44,000 hours is expected to be posted online over the next several months, the AP has reported.

More than 1,500 people have been charged with offenses related to the Capitol riot. Of these, more than 800 have been convicted. More than 700 have been sentenced, with roughly two-thirds receiving terms of imprisonment ranging from three days to 22 years.


This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.

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