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FBI suddenly arrests GOP candidate challenging Michigan Dem governor over alleged role in Jan. 6

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JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Ryan Kelley, a leading Republican candidate for governor of Michigan, was arrested on Thursday in connection with his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riots at the United States Capitol.

The arrest came on the same day the House committee investigating Jan. 6 is planning to hold its first televised hearing.

What are the details?

Kelley was taken into federal custody and charged with four misdemeanor crimes: trespassing, disorderly conduct, committing an act of violence against a person or property on restricted grounds, and depredation of federal property.

The FBI also raided Kelley's home in Allendale Township.

As the Associated Press noted, it is not clear why the FBI waited 18 months after Jan. 6 to arrest Kelley. After all, he has long acknowledged that he was at the Capitol that day, but he has denied ever entering the building.

Documents compiled by federal investigators, indeed, confirm Kelley's presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. None of the photos included in the documents show him inside the Capitol building. However, photos confirm that Kelley was in a crowd that climbed stairs outside the Capitol. Many of those in the crowd around him eventually entered the building.

More from the AP on the prosecution of Jan. 6 participants:

[Kelley] is among more than 800 people who are facing criminal charges in connection with the Jan. 6 riot. More than 300 people have pleaded guilty, largely to misdemeanor offenses punishable by no more than one year in prison. Some who’ve pleaded guilty to misdemeanors have been sentenced to short stints behind bars while others have been sentenced to home confinement or probation.

Kelley could face a year in prison for each count against him.

Kelley's campaign has not released an official statement about the arrest. However, in a short post to Facebook on Thursday, Kelley said, "Political Prisoner."

Who is Kelley?

According to Bridge Michigan, Kelley rose to prominence in the Great Lakes State in 2020 when he became an outspoken critic of the draconian COVID-19 restrictions enacted by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).

Kelley gained additional notoriety as an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, and he repeated false claims that Democrats stole the 2020 election from Trump.

The Michigan primary is on Aug. 2. One recent poll showed that Kelley is the leading candidate in a field of five Republicans.

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