Ex-MO senator investigated Waco. He claims conspiracies are gaining strength 2023

On the 30th anniversary of the tragic standoff in Waco, Texas, the Department of Justice special counsel who examined the confrontation’s fiery end believes conspiratorial thinking still permeates the country. In September 1999, then-Attorney General Janet Reno appointed Missouri Republican John Danforth as special counsel to examine whether federal law enforcement sparked the Branch Davidian complex fire on April 19, 1993. Fire and bullets killed 76 individuals.

Time magazine showed 61% of the people believed federal law enforcement sparked the fire a month before Danforth’s appointment. Danforth investigated under that environment of mistrust and concluded that law enforcement did not set the fire.

An ex-Missouri state senator who looked into Waco. He claims that the influence of conspiracy theories has expanded.

Danforth was certain. Conspiracy theories in American politics have risen over three decades. Former President Donald Trump promoted conspiracy theories that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Several of his supporters believed QAnon, the conspiracy theory claiming a group of sexual traffickers plotted to overthrow Trump.

“Conspiracies are popular. Danforth told The Star, “That’s out there.” Danforth stated, “I think right now the political style, particularly in my party, is to bring” conspiracy theories to life. Danforth, 86, said conspiracy theories’ “we versus. them” mentality has become a political tool. “It was an aberration, but now it’s evolved into the Republican Party mainstream,” he added.

On February 28, 1993, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms tried to execute a search warrant on the complex of the Branch Davidians, a highly armed religious sect, and arrest its leader, David Koresh. A firefight killed four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians.

During a 51-day stalemate, tanks surrounded the facility as negotiators sought to let everyone out, including children. FBI tear gas entered the premises on April 19. Then the building burned. Nine survived the fire. The 30th anniversary has renewed interest in the horrific event. Netflix published a three-part documentary and Showtime will show a dramatization of the accident later this month. Waco and the 11-day Ruby Ridge siege in 1992 fueled far-right extremism in the 1990s.

Timothy McVeigh, who visited Waco to watch, bombed an Oklahoma City federal building on the two-year anniversary of the siege, killing 168 people.

Danforth claimed the Waco standoff reinforced the idea of “us against. them” or “us vs. the elite or the government.” “They are bullying you and we’re pushing back,” he added. Trump has promoted a number of conspiracies since commencing his presidential campaign in 2015.

His supporters stormed U.S. Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol. Trump, who was arrested in New York last week for corporate fraud, is under criminal investigation in Georgia for interfering in the state’s presidential election. Federal special counsel Jack Smith is probing Trump’s Jan. 6 actions. Trump conducted his first 2024 presidential rally in Waco on the standoff anniversary last month.

Danforth prepared a statement in case Trump addressed the confrontation, but the former president never did. Danforth said the rally’s location and date were “happenstance,” while the Trump campaign stated it picked it for logistical reasons.

“At least on the far right, Waco has never gone far away,” said University of Kansas professor Don Haider-Markel, who studies political extremism. Danforth, who served in the U.S. Senate from 1976 to 1995, is a moderate Republican now.

During the past decade, Missouri has turned right, erasing his old-school political strategy. Missouri gave Trump 57% in 2016 and 2020. Danforth has denounced the Republican Party’s anti-democratic policies under Trump for years.

After Jan. 6, Danforth renounced his past praise and mentorship of Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who was the first senator to support an objection to certifying President Joe Biden’s victory to overturn the election and raised his fist in solidarity with the crowd outside the Capitol before the riot.

In 1999, Reno appointed Danforth special counsel. Danforth was an attorney and the Missouri state attorney general from 1969 to 1976, although he never prosecuted federally. “Questions have been raised, and he is the best person to uncover the answers,” Reno said, complimenting Danforth’s “commitment to get to the truth” from his St. Louis office. and operated bipartisanly. Former U.S. Deputy special counsel was Eastern District of Missouri Attorney. Republican Thomas Schweich, his chief of staff, became Missouri state auditor before committing suicide in 2015.

“We meticulously worked on this for almost a year. Danforth stated, “It’s hard to prove a negative, but we did it.” Danforth stated all special counsel attorneys and investigators packed into a conference room before presenting a preliminary report in July 1999. They displayed the report and read each page. Danforth added, “We asked if anybody had any question about anything on this page, and none did.”

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