CASPER – Wyoming GOP Chairman Frank Eathorne was reportedly discovered to have been on restricted Capitol grounds during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
Photos and video from the day appear to show Eathorne in the restricted area in front of the platform for Joe Biden’s inauguration, which was still two weeks away at the time, NBC News reported Sunday.
It’s unclear when Eathorne ultimately left that day. He previously said that he only made a “brief stop in the vicinity of the Capitol.” On Wednesday, the Wyoming Republican Party did not return the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s email and phone call seeking comment.
Eathorne, who is on a first-name basis with former President Donald Trump, had previously characterized his visit to the Capitol on Jan. 6 as a “a brief stop in the vicinity of the Capitol building property.” And “no violence or property damage was observed during my time there including a brief stop in the vicinity of the Capitol building property,” he wrote.
On Jan. 6, 2021, the Wyoming GOP posted a 19-second video to its Facebook page of an enthusiastic crowd cheering outside of the U.S. Capitol building, with the caption, “This is what’s really happening near the White House in case the media is not reporting. Chairman Eathorne is there with other great Wyoming patriots!”
According to leaked documents, the chairman of the state party is also a member of the Oath Keepers, a militant right-wing organization, WyoFile reported in December. Eathorne says he was only a passive member of the group.
Around a dozen Oath Keepers have been charged with seditious conspiracy following the Jan. 6 riot.
Thousands of Trump supporters were on the restricted grounds of the Capitol on the day of the riot, but only a handful of rioters have been charged with misdemeanors for being in that area. The focus of most investigations have been those who were inside the Capitol or who assaulted law enforcement. There is no evidence Eathorne did either.
The people who have been charged fall into “three overlapping categories.”
“Individuals who went inside, individuals who committed violence outside and individuals who committed conspiracy to overturn the election,” said Jon Lewis, a research fellow at the George Washington University Program on Extremism. “It’s unlikely that the DOJ (the Justice Department) will prioritize the individuals for misdemeanor offenses.”
A rancher from Converse County, Eathorne has become close with Trump as the former president has sought to unseat one of his main political enemies: Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. Eathorne was at Trump’s rally on Saturday in Casper.
When Trump first knew he was coming to Wyoming for a rally, he called Eathorne personally to tell him the news.
“I would run through barbed wire for that guy, how ‘bout you?” Eathorne said on stage, referring to the former president.
The rally was held in support of the Trump-endorsed U.S. House challenger Harriet Hageman, who is running against Cheney.