Ryan Kelley denies committing crime on Jan. 6, says support has been 'tremendous'

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Ryan Kelley, a Republican candidate for governor, said Monday night that he's received "tremendous" support after being arrested by federal agents for his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Kelley, 40, a real estate broker from Allendale, made the comments in his most high-profile interview in the five days since federal prosecutors unveiled four misdemeanor charges against him. He appeared on the Fox News network's "Tucker Carlson Tonight" show.

"There was no crime committed, Tucker, no," Kelley said. "(I) never entered the Capitol building."

Kelley contended that he was simply exercising his First Amendment rights.

Republican candidate for Michigan governor Ryan Kelley appears on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" how on the Fox News network on Monday, June 13, 2022.

On Jan. 6, 2021, protests spiraled out of control in Washington D.C., as lawmakers met to tally the electoral votes of the 2020 presidential election, which Republican Donald Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden.

Federal prosecutors, citing photos and videos from outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, said Kelley engaged in disorderly and disruptive conduct and physical violence against a person or property in a restricted building or grounds. Court records described Kelley as an active participant in the riot, climbing onto portions of the Capitol, encouraging yelling, gesturing to participants and removing a covering from a temporary structure outside the building.

His arrest on Thursday shook Michigan's GOP political landscape as he's one of five Republican candidates remaining on the Aug. 2 primary ballot, seeking to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.

"We intend to win on the 2nd of August and again in November, making Gretchen Whitmer a one-term governor," Kelley said during his appearance Monday night.

"So you're running," Carlson told Kelley at one point. "Bold."

Kelley said he believes there was a "political motive" behind his arrest on Thursday, the same day of a prime-time public hearing by the Democrat-led U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.

"I think a lot of Americans see right through this, Tucker," Kelley said. "They understand what the Democrats are up to, and it's not a big deal to them."

He called the select committee's work "political theater" and argued that voters care more about what government will do to respond to things affecting their day-to-day lives.

The select committee held another hearing Monday. The panel, which has cited comments from members of Trump's own administration, has worked to tie the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, directly to Trump's effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.


Staff Writers Beth LeBlanc and Robert Snell contributed.