Politics

Can We Get Jan. 6, Harry Styles, and Bigfoot Erotica All in the Same Headline?

Thanks to Denver Riggleman, we can!

A photo of Jan. 6 committee members looking somber
Dealing-with-an-unauthorized-book-days-before-a-hearing vibes. Rod Lamkey/CNP/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

Just a few days before the Jan. 6 committee was scheduled to hold its expected final public hearing, a former staffer for the committee appeared on 60 Minutes to steal the spotlight—and bigfoot the committee’s own work.

Ex-Rep. Denver Riggleman left his gig on the committee in April to do something or another related to Ukraine. But now he is about to publish a surprise book that “gives an inside account of his time working as a senior adviser” on the committee, according to CBS News.

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Among the nuggets of information he’s using to sell the book is a disclosure that a call traced to the White House switchboard went to a Capitol rioter during the Jan. 6 siege. The call, as CNN subsequently revealed, went to “a 26-year-old Trump supporter from Brooklyn, New York named Anton Lunyk,” lasted 9 seconds, and came about an hour after Lunyk and his buddies had left the Capitol. (Lunyk pleaded guilty earlier this year and was sentenced to a year of probation; the judge had told him that he and his friends were “real knuckleheads.”)

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The Jan. 6 committee, and its members and staff, were reportedly surprised to learn that by “leaving the committee to do Ukraine stuff” Riggleman actually meant he was  “leaving the committee to write a book about committee work which he would plug on 60 Minutes.” In other words, they don’t love this. The committee is touchy and controlling about how it rolls out its findings, and has its own “sweeping” plans for this week’s hearing. Responding to an ex-staffer’s unauthorized book was not on the agenda.

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“In his role on the Select Committee staff, Mr. Riggleman had limited knowledge of the Committee’s investigation,” the committee said in a statement. “He departed from the staff in April prior to our hearings and much of our most important investigative work. He told the Committee he was departing in order to help the people of Ukraine in their war against Russia. Since his departure, the Committee has run down all the leads and digested and analyzed all the information that arose from his work. We will be presenting additional evidence to the public in our next hearing this coming Wednesday, and a thorough report will be published by the end of the year.”

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In short: harumph.

Somewhat unrelatedly: Allow us to use the occasion of Denver Riggleman’s name being in the news again—as it is roughly once per year for an entirely different reason each time—to run through the hits. As they say in Riggleman’s native Virginia: This is a proper picaresque, fellas!

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Riggleman served in the Air Force and worked as a national security contractor before opening a craft distillery with his wife in Virginia, and then getting into politics.

The first time that most people heard of Riggleman was during his 2018 race for Congress. He was running for an open seat after Rep. Tom Garrett, a bad boss, announced he wouldn’t run for reelection. In the general election, Riggleman’s Democratic opponent tagged him as a “devotee of Bigfoot Erotica” and shared screenshots of Instagram drawings Riggleman had posted depicting Bigfoot with a big ol’ penis—including one where Riggleman’s face was cropped onto Bigfoot’s head. Riggleman, who is admittedly fascinated with Bigfoot and has written or co-written a couple of books on the subject (including one that came out while he was in Congress), denied that he was a “devotee of Bigfoot erotica.” To this day, he will get up in your mentions if you describe him as such.

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Riggleman beat that Democratic opponent, Leslie Cockburn, a journalist who also happens to be the mother of actor and director Olivia Wilde, who dates actor and musician Harry Styles, whom Wilde directed in a new movie that has had a weird press tour.

(Google, did you get all that? Just to be sure: Harry Styles, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, Harry Styles, Denver Riggleman, Jan. 6 insurrection, Bigfoot erotica.)

During his tenure in Congress, Riggleman did what most members of the House Republican minority did: Sat around and tried not to get primaried. And though he ultimately voted with Trump 92 percent of the time, he did officiate a same-sex wedding in 2019 for two friends. This, and other supposed “liberal tendencies,” earned Riggleman a primary challenge from Bob Good, an evangelical Christian and Liberty University athletics director who described himself as a “bright-red biblical and constitutional conservative.” (Bob “Life of the Party” Good recently got in a shouting match with Rep. Abigail Spanberger, in front of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, about whether teachers were “grooming” children to transition their gender.)

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Riggleman lost to Good in a drive-thru nominating convention during the worst COVID times of 2020. He spent the remaining months of his term, and a lot of time since, going hard against QAnon and other patterns of disinformation within conservative circles.

With a referral from committee vice chair Liz Cheney, Riggleman was hired by the Jan. 6 committee in August 2021. He reportedly irked committee members, including Cheney, by giving interviews and speeches bragging about all of the good information he’d come across.

And now, this book.

According to the Washington Post, committee staff had previously “confronted” Riggleman over rumors of this book, which he co-authored with reporter Hunter Walker.

“In one exchange, Riggleman told colleagues he was writing a book on a topic unrelated to his committee work,” the Post reported. “In a later conversation, before his departure from the committee staff, Riggleman said he had been approached about writing a book related to the committee but that it would not be published before the end of this year.”

Well! Not our fight. Congrats to everyone, including Harry Styles, on all the good stuff they’ve got going on. And we’ll see what strange way Denver Riggleman chooses to reenter the public consciousness in 2023.

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