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Like most Americans, Evan Hafer experienced the Jan. 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol from a distance, watching it unfold on his television and his iPhone from Salt Lake City. What he saw did not surprise him. Hafer, who is 44, voted for Donald Trump. He was even open at first to the possibility that Trump’s claims of sweeping voter fraud were legitimate, until William Barr, Trump’s attorney general, declared in early December that he could find no evidence that such fraud occurred. Still, Hafer told me recently, “you’re told by the commander in chief for months that the election was stolen, so you’re going to have a group of people that are really pissed.” While he disapproved of those who stormed the Capitol, he didn’t believe that they or their actions constituted a real threat to the republic. “I’ve seen an insurrection,” said Hafer, a former Green Beret and C.I.A. contractor who served in Afghanistan and Iraq. “I know what that looks like.”
But Hafer’s distance from the incident collapsed that same afternoon, when he was alerted to a picture taken by a Getty photographer in the Senate chamber that immediately went viral. The photo showed a masked man vaulting over a banister holding several sets of plastic restraints, an apparent sign that the insurrectionists planned to take lawmakers hostage. The unidentified man, soon dubbed “zip-tie guy,” was dressed […]
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