PHOENIX — Newly discovered footage taken during the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot shows Arizona GOP legislator Mark Finchem was much closer to the day’s violence than he has previously claimed.
Finchem has insisted that he never got within 500 yards of the Capitol building, but Getty footage of the failed attempt to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election that was recently discovered by activists on Twitter shows Finchem walking directly in front of the east steps at the Capitol after pro-Trump rioters had already broken through a series of barricades and police lines, and then smashed their way into the Capitol building.
Finchem, who is from Oro Valley, reprsents Legislative District 11, which includes Maricopa, Arizona City, Picacho, Oracle and parts of Casa Grande and Eloy in Pinal County. He is also running to be secretary of state.
Finchem did not respond to a request for comment confirming if the man in the video was him, but the high-resolution video clearly shows Finchem wearing the same hat, jacket and VIP lanyard he had been seen wearing throughout the day.
In the past, Finchem has refused to speak in detail about the events of the day, and text messages he released to bolster his claims have instead conflicted with previous statements he has made.
Finchem also posted a photograph of rioters on the east steps on social media, praising the insurrectionists for standing up to Congress. The area in which the photo was likely taken appears to be roughly 100 yards away from the east steps of the Capitol.
There is no way Finchem could have been 500 yards away — more than a quarter of a mile — and taken the photo of the steps that he published on Twitter. The furthest point from the east Capitol steps before one hits the Capitol Reflecting Pool, the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, is approximately 320 yards away.
The Arizona Mirror has analyzed video footage, social media posts and more to create a timeline of where Finchem was that day.
The day before Trump supporters failed to overthrow Congress, Finchem addressed a crowd of Trump loyalists, joking that the day’s rain storm was God washing away the stench of Washington, D.C. The “pre-rally” held on Jan. 5 at Freedom Plaza contained a who’s who of the political fringe and members of the #StopTheSteal movement. Finchem was introduced by Ali Alexander, a #StopTheSteal leader and the organizer of that day’s rally and the larger one on Jan. 6, at which Trump implored his followers to march to the Capitol and “show strength” to stop a “rigged” election.
“If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore,” the ex-president said shortly before the coup attempt.
Alexander praised Finchem, one of his strongest allies in Arizona and a leader in the state’s effort to undermine Joe Biden’s narrow win.
“The storm is here,” Alexander said, referencing the QAnon conspiracy theory, before introducing Finchem as his “friend.”
In his speech, Finchem baselessly told the crowd that Trump’s electoral loss was fraudulent and that Democrats knew the election was stolen. There is no credible evidence supporting those claims.
“I want you to hear a message from Americans,” Finchem said, speaking directly to lawmakers who questioned #StopTheSteal activists. “This ain’t going away.”
The next day, Finchem attended President Donald Trump’s speech at The Ellipse in President’s Park, just south of the White House. He can be seen in one video posted on Facebook walking by the front of the stage wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a dark jacket with rectangular patches on the shoulders. At 10:48 a.m., his back can be seen in a photo posted on Twitter by fellow Arizona Republican lawmaker Anthony Kern on Twitter.
The first skirmishes with police at the Capitol would begin at around 1 p.m. and Finchem has previously said he arrived at the east side of the Capitol at around 1:45 p.m. Finchem has continued to struggle with his story on where he was when that day, and has gone as far as claiming that Democrats — not his fellow Trump supporters who marched alongside him from Trump’s speech — were responsible for the day’s violence.
At 1:50 p.m., the on-scene Metro Police Department commander had declared a riot.
In text messages released by Finchem, he texted fellow #StopTheSteal advocates Michael Coudrey and Alexander that he was on his way in a golf cart.
Footage reviewed by the Mirror appears to show Finchem riding in the back of a golf cart, wearing the same hat and jacket from hours earlier.
At 3:16 p.m., Finchem tweeted a photo of Capitol rioters saying, “What happens when People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud. #stopthesteal.”
But the Mirror’s analysis indicates that Finchem took the photo some time before he posted it online. Videos posted on the social media platform Parler that were aggregated by ProPublica and organized by the times they were posted and where they were taken makes it likely that Finchem took his photo at least 40 minutes earlier.
In the video posted on Parler, protesters can be heard singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The video features a woman in a yellow jacket who is prominently seen in Finchem’s photo, and many of the same flags being carried by rioters can be seen in both.
The video was posted at approximately 2:35 p.m. near the east Capitol steps, where conspiracy-peddling media figure Alex Jones and Alexander had led many of the protesters just a few minutes earlier leading a chant of “1776.”
In the newly found Getty footage, Finchem can be seen walking through the crowd he had earlier photographed. He is easily identified by his cowboy hat and jacket with shoulder patches. It is unclear exactly what time Finchem is walking through the crowd, but it appears to be after Finchem took his photo, as many of the people and flags are now gone.
At around the same time in nearby parts of the Capitol, police were violently clashing with protesters, using tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the crowds and rioters had already breached the Capitol. Finchem would say that he was unaware of the violence until 5 p.m. that day when he was getting ready for a podcast interview.
Later that night, Finchem would tweet complaining that the D.C. Police were preventing a GrubHub driver from delivering food to his hotel, blaming the “commie” Mayor of D.C..
Finchem has blamed antifa for the violence and vowed to sue those who try to connect him to the events of Jan. 6, going as far as filing a cease and desist against a recall campaign that has been using his attendance at the day’s events as a reason to remove him from office.
One point of contention for Finchem in the cease-and-desist letter is the connection to the extremist Oath Keepers organization that the recall organizers have pointed out.
Finchem has long been tied to the organization, but in his cease-and-desist letter, his lawyer states that the Oath Keepers is a “non-partisan” group and called allegations that it is anti-government to be “spurious claims.” The letter also calls the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website “hate-filled.”
The FBI describes the Oath Keepers as a “loosely organized collection of militia who believe that the federal government have been co-opted by a shadowy conspiracy that is trying to strip American citizens of their rights.”
Nineteen Oath Keepers have been indicted thus far in a case that claims they coordinated to conspire to breach the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, with prosecutors saying that more could be prosecuted in the future.
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy is a reporter for Arizona Mirror, a non-profit Arizona news organization.