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Arizona GOP secretary of state nominee interviewed by Justice Dept. and House panel about Jan. 6

Election 2022 Arizona Secretary of State
Arizona Secretary of State Republican candidate Mark Finchem listens to instructions prior to debating Democratic challenger Adrian Fontes, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Phoenix. Matt York / AP

Arizona GOP nominee for secretary of state Mark Finchem said Thursday night that he's been interviewed as a witness by the Justice Department and the House select committee investigating the Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021.

His disclosure came during a televised debate against Democratic opponent Adrian Fontes in their race to be the state's top election official.

On Jan. 6, he was in Washington, D.C., and participated in the Stop the Steal march to the U.S. Capitol, but he said Thursday that he was not interviewed as a suspect.

"The last time I checked, to be at a place when something's happening is not illegal," Finchem said. "I've been treated as a witness not as a suspect." 

After the debate, according to the Associated Press, Finchem said of his interaction with the Justice Department,  "It was a long list of questions and quite frankly I don't remember all of them." He told reporters that he was asked why he was at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and was interviewed "a couple of months ago.

Finchem still claims the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, and suggested in response to a question by the moderator that if he had been secretary of state, he would not have certified the results showing that President Joe Biden won Arizona.  There were "too many hypotheticals" for him to have faith in the results, he replied.

Election 2022 Arizona Secretary of State
Arizona Secretary of State Democratic candidate Adrian Fontes speaks prior to debating Republican challenger Mark Finchem, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Phoenix. Matt York / AP

Finchem asserted that the 2020 election in Arizona was "compromised" in several counties and highlighted Yuma County and Maricopa County, but offered no evidence in support of his statements.

Fontes, who used to be the Maricopa County recorder, said Finchem's "lies" about the 2020 election are "dangerous."

"When we have conspiracy theories and lies like the ones Mr. Finchem has just shared — based in no real evidence — what we end up doing is eroding the faith that we have in each other as citizens," Fontes said.

Finchem said ballot harvesting and the "2,000 Mules" conspiracy documentary showed that there had been fraud in the 2020 election. The Washington Post said of the documentary by Dinesh D'Souza, a right-wing commentator, that D'Souza "is elevating shaky, misrepresented, incomplete claims to bolster his rhetoric," and the film contains "irredeemable flaws."

Asked if the results of the 2022 primary elections in Arizona were legitimate, Finchem said "I have no idea. It is what it is," Finchem said, adding that he hasn't been able to dig into how the ballots were processed.

Finchem also said he opposes early voting and voting by mail, adding that voters should go to the polls, although he did say he would support some absentee voting.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article identified Adrian Fontes as the Maricopa County recorder. He is a former Maricopa County recorder. 

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