By Alex Rogers and Manu Raju, CNN
Blake Masters, the Republican Senate candidate from Arizona, met with conservative activists at a Phoenix IHOP this spring and was asked whether he would support investigating US intelligence operations to uncover the federal government’s “nefarious activities.”
Masters replied, “Absolutely,” and then floated the conspiracy theory that the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol actually may have been a false-flag operation set up by the FBI, according to a recording of the March 30 meeting obtained by CNN.
“Don’t we suspect that like one-third of the people outside of the Capitol complex on January 6 were actual FBI agents hanging out,” Masters asked at the GrassRoots Tea Party Activists of Arizona event. “What did people know and when did they know it? We got to get to the bottom of this.”
Masters is part of a wave of Republicans who have won the coveted endorsement of former President Donald Trump after parroting his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen and downplaying the actions of the pro-Trump mob that attacked the Capitol last year.
While top Republicans like Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell have urged candidates to move on from 2020 and focus on the future, some, like Masters, are aligning themselves with Trump in the hopes of tapping into his base of support.
After launching his Senate campaign last year, Masters has increasingly embraced the former President’s bogus claims. He told CNN in July “it’s really hard to know” whether Trump won, questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election.
But in November, Masters went further, saying in a campaign video, “I think Trump won in 2020.” Masters then went to Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, for a fundraiser attended by the former president.
In January, Masters joined Trump at a rally in Arizona, where the former President asked, “Exactly how many of those present at the Capitol complex on January 6 were FBI confidential informants, agents or otherwise working directly or indirectly with an agency of the United States government?” In May, Masters returned to Mar-a-Lago to watch a screening of Dinesh D’Souza’s election conspiracy documentary “2000 Mules.”
At the Tea Party event, Masters articulated an anti-institution worldview. He claimed without evidence that “Big Tech” altered its algorithms to try to help Joe Biden win the White House and said that the United States has a “two-tiered justice system” where liberal rioters receive lighter sentences than non-violent, pro-Trump trespassers. And he advocated to fire “everybody you can” at the politically “weaponized” Justice Department.
The January 6 attack on the Capitol was not an FBI false-flag operation. It was a violent attempt by Trump supporters to stop Congress from certifying the 2020 election.
Masters campaign officials declined to comment. But a source familiar with Masters’ thinking said he was “simply sharing his concerns” with the FBI’s actions, and wants the bureau to answer more questions about how it handled the attack.
“These are all things Blake has said on the campaign trail for over a year,” added the source.
Masters’ espoused belief that Trump won the last election has paid off. Last week, Trump endorsed Masters over the other Senate GOP candidates, including state Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who certified his 2020 loss in Arizona, and solar-energy entrepreneur Jim Lamon. The winner of the August 2 primary will face Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly.
“Blake knows that the ‘Crime of the Century’ took place, he will expose it and also, never let it happen again,” said Trump in his statement backing Masters.
Masters takes on ‘Big Tech,’ Departments of Justice and Education
Masters, 35, is a hard-right, immigration hawk who wants to take on the technology industry in which he spent his career. His mentor and former boss, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel, co-founded PayPal and software company Palantir, which received an early investment from a CIA-backed venture fund, and made major investments in Facebook and SpaceX. Last year, Thiel donated $10 million to a Super PAC, Saving Arizona, supporting Masters.
On March 30, Masters said he hoped Thiel would spend more even though he couldn’t legally ask him, calling Thiel one of the few “America First” billionaires after the late mega donor Sheldon Adelson passed, and the Koch network “not even conservative anymore” because of their immigration policies. (In May, Thiel invested another $3.5 million into the Super PAC.)
While some of his GOP opponents have targeted his background to portray Masters as owned by “Big Tech,” Masters has pitched himself as uniquely able to take on technology corporations, and prevent them from suppressing conservative content, because of his experience.
In his speech to Tea Party activists, Masters’ message was essentially: tear it down. He pledged to vote to eliminate the Education Department, called 95% of regulations “bad,” and chided former House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell for merely delivering a tax cut when Trump was president. He mentioned his work on the 2016 Trump transition team, praised Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, who famously advocated for “the deconstruction of the administration state,” and criticized former Republican National Committee chairman and chief of staff Reince Priebus as “kind of a big RINO.”
Masters’ anti-establishment vision extends to how the federal government enforces the law. The Arizona GOP Senate candidate claimed in his speech that the US has a “two-tiered justice system” that treats January 6 rioters unfairly and proposed widespread firing of DOJ employees who he thinks are politically motivated.
“It’s going to be hard but I think it starts by firing everybody you can,” Masters said.
The Senate candidate also went after Facebook, Twitter and Google, calling them monopolies, claiming that they tilted the 2020 election for Joe Biden and criticizing them for suspending Trump from their platforms after January 6.
Masters also said Twitter interfered in Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s next election in January, when it suspended her personal account for repeatedly violating their policy by posting misinformation about Covid-19 vaccines.
“When you keep Marjorie Taylor Greene off Twitter, that’s election interference,” Masters said.
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