In response to conservative Ryan Kelley's Thursday arrest, U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R) described a peculiar strategy to give a candidate a lead in a 2022 Republican primary: "Have them get arrested by the FBI."
"Ryan Kelley and that arrest yesterday is something I'm still trying to wrap my head around. Why is the FBI raiding someone's home on a misdemeanor charge and putting them in handcuffs 500 days (after the alleged crimes were committed)?" said Meijer on an episode of the MIRS Monday Podcast.
On Thursday, Kelley – the Allendale Township-based real estate broker who's making a run for governor – made headlines when he was arrested outside of his West Michigan home. Currently, there are four federal misdemeanor counts being charged against him in relation to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot in the U.S. Capitol. Kelley has admitted being on the Capitol grounds on that day, but insists he never entered the building.
Kelley's arrest Thursday was made the same day of the widely broadcasted, "prime-time public hearing" of the U.S. House's select committee assigned to investigate the attack.
Meijer was a new member of Congress during the aggressive phenomenon, and saw the U.S. Capital and metropolitan police officers "bruised and bloodied."
"I have a pretty good grasp on what happened. But obviously, if there are additional things that come out, that's critical for the public to know and frankly, I just hope that folks haven't fully gone to whatever corner is most comfortable," Meijer said.
However, when it comes to Kelley, Meijer said "we should hold those who broke the law into account, but I can't help thinking that – if I'm putting a tinfoil hat on – how do you promote a candidate, get them great name ID and give them a lead in a Republican primary in 2022?"
He agreed you could either make them a martyr, or have them arrested by the FBI.
"I struggle to see how to justify the timing: 500 days later, the morning of the first Jan. 6 select committee hearing and just less than eight weeks before the gubernatorial primary," Meijer said. "We need to have trust and confidence in the FBI and I don't want to presume ill will, but there's a lot of questions that need to be answered here."
Kelley has received numerous jabs for his participation in the Jan. 6 rampage at the U.S. Capitol, which kicked off as an election fraud protest hosted by then-President Donald TRUMP – while Congress was inside commencing their traditional joint session to count the Electoral College votes for now-President Joe Biden.
A photo captured during the January 2021 siege has shown Kelley dressed in sunglasses and a flipped-around baseball hat, showing off hand gestures as a swarm of protesters clawed at the Capitol barriers.
Another video – that Kelley has called "absolutely inaccurate, slanderous and a complete lie" – was displayed throughout last summer by groups like the Michigan Democratic Party, with an individual suspected to be Kelley exclaiming "this is war, baby" as chaos unfolded.
As for Meijer, the 33-year-old Grand Rapids Republican later became earmarked by the MAGA brigade for voting to impeach Trump in connection to the attack.
After being painted as a Republican in Name Only (RINO) – although Meijer doesn't even consider himself a moderate – he will face off against John GIBBS, the former president's Housing and Urban Development official and Trump's pick for Congress.
When asked who the new leader of Michigan conservative voters is, Meijer said he has no idea – however, he did say disorganization within the Republican primary election delivers a "ripe opportunity for Democrats to meddle."
"What we're seeing across the board is efforts by national Democrats to say 'Hey, we think we can beat this crazy candidate in November, and our opportunity to get them on the ballot and have the best chance of success is to go and get the crazies put forward in some of these primaries,'" Meijer said.
If Republicans nominate candidates whose views are well outside the mainstream, Democrats are on the other side “popping a bottle of champagne.”