Kathy Barnette, Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate, campaign believes photos of her on Jan. 6 are genuine
Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette's campaign believes that photos appearing to show her on the streets of Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6th are of her, a person close to the campaign confirmed to CBS News.
The images appearing to show Barnette were first reported by Chad Loder, who researches extremism. The images were later verified by NBC News.
Barnette on Monday denied that she went inside the Capitol. Citing the First Amendment, Barnette told CBS News that she traveled to Washington, D.C., to "listen to my President's speech to see if there were answers but what many of us in the country felt unnerved about."
Barnette continued that "we prayed, we walked, we laughed, we met new friends. We got on bus and we were on our way home. I didn't know what was happening until we got in the car. That is the beginning and the end of that story."
In a statement to CBS News, Barnette campaign spokesman Ryan Rhodes said "Kathy was in Washington to support President Trump and to support calls for election accountability." Rhodes added that "any insinuation" that she had links to the violence is false and said she has "no connection to the Proud Boys."
Appearing on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Bair on Monday night, Barnett said she had "no idea" who she was marching alongside.
" Allow me to correct you. I was not with the Proud boys. I was out there because I wanted to hear what the president had to say," she said.
Barnette posted a video on Dec. 31, 2020 saying that she and her team were organizing buses to go to Washington on Jan. 6. She told supporters in that video "stay engaged, fight."
Despite not having Trump's endorsement in the Senate race, she has surged in the final days before Tuesday's Republican primary. She said in April that "MAGA doesn't belong to Donald Trump; MAGA belongs to the people." Trump has endorsed Dr. Mehmet Oz in the race.
An Emerson poll released on Sunday night showed Oz leading the field with 28% followed by Barnette (24%) and former hedge fund manager David McCormick (21%).
Barnette is not the only major candidate running for office in Pennsylvania who was in Washington on January 6.
State Senator Doug Mastriano, the leading candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, was subpoenaed in February by the House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol. The committee said it wanted information from Mastriano about a plan to "arrange for an alternate slate of electors" and his public statements that suggested he was "present during the attack on the U.S. Capitol."
"I was there to hear my president speak and then I was invited to speak at two locations, exercising my constitutional rights and shame on the media and the Democrats for painting anyone down there as a villain," Mastriano said in a debate last month. "Condemning all of those people that did nothing wrong, that's an injustice to our freedom."
Thousands of Trump's supporters descended on Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, 2021, the day Congress was set to certify the 2020 election results. Trump gave a speech at the Ellipse ahead of the certification, telling his supporters to "walk down" to the Capitol while Congress counted the electoral votes, the largely ceremonial step confirming President Biden's victory.
After Trump's speech, thousands tried to interrupt the certification, leading to a riot and sending lawmakers fleeing. Trump was impeached by the House one week later for inciting the riot but was later acquitted by the Senate. Hundreds have been charged for their role in the riot and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has created a committee to investigate the origins of the attack, with hearings set to start in June.
Robert Costa and Aaron Navarro contributed to this report.
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