The 9/11 conspiracy theories advocated by the Republican Party’s nominee for state attorney general have drawn a swift rebuke from Gov. Larry Hogan.
Hogan pulled no punches in rejecting the theories presented by nominee Michael Peroutka. The outgoing governor’s comments on social media highlight the widening divide between Hogan and some candidates in his own party.
“We know who was responsible for 9/11,” Hogan wrote in a message on Twitter. “Blaming our country for Al-Qaeda’s atrocities is an insult to the memory of the thousands of innocent Americans and brave first responders who died that day. These disgusting lies don’t belong in our party.”
Hogan issued the statement following a CNN report on Peroutka’s support for those conspiracy theories.
The GOP nominee for attorney general was once the co-host of a radio program called “The American View” along with John Lofton.
Lofton, in his introduction of the program, said he and Peroutka “have a slightly different take on what may or may not have happened five years ago on Sept. 11.” Lofton, a conservative writer and communications director for Peroutka’s failed bid for president, died in 2014 at the age of 73.
During a discussion on the show that focused on the terror attacks, Peroutka claimed the World Trade Center buildings were destroyed by a controlled demolition.
“What happened on 9/11, I told you that I had been doing some research and watching some videos,” Peroutka said during that episode. “And I said that if the buildings in New York City, the World Trade Center buildings, came down by demolition charges — that is to say — if there was this evidence that there was that something was preset there, then the implications of that are massive.”
Peroutka made the claims during an interview with Dave von Kleist, a promoter of 9/11 conspiracy theories.
In comments before the interview, Peroutka said he had “been doing some reading and doing some studying and I believe that to be very, very true.”
Peroutka noted that the destruction of building seven in the World Trade Center complex “falls very consistent with what they call controlled demolition or controlled charges.”
“That begs the question that if there are pre-set charges in building seven what’s to stop there from being pre-set charges in in buildings one, two, eight, nine and 27,” Peroutka said. Again that’s just, it’s massive. Are there charges in every building in New York City? Is everyone ready to be brought down whenever some elite bureaucrat decides that he’s going to pull it?”
The programs were first reported on by CNN Sunday.
In another episode reviewed by CNN, Peroutka claimed that a missile struck the Pentagon rather than a plane and that bodies found at the scene were killed elsewhere.
Peroutka Monday did not respond to requests for comment.
Peroutka’s conspiracy theories and ultra-right leanings don’t stop at comments made about the 9/11 terror attacks.
More recently, the former one-term Anne Arundel County councilman and unsuccessful presidential candidate is the founder of the Institute on the Constitution. He has used the site to post commentaries on more recent events including the pandemic.
In one such post, Peroutka called the pandemic “a lie” and a “fraud.”
In another, he wrote that vaccinations against the virus are “experimental gene therapy.”
Peroutka’s past also includes a leadership role in the League of the South, a neo-secessionist group described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the hard-right politics of Peroutka and Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
Cox organized buses to the District of Columbia for the Jan. 6 Stop the Steal rally and has called Vice President Mike Pence a traitor.
Hogan’s tweet further highlights the growing rift between Hogan, a Republican serving out the final months of his second term, and the top of the ticket candidates who won his party’s 2022 primary.
The governor’s hand-picked candidate for governor, Kelly Schulz, was defeated by Cox. Similarly, Hogan’s endorsement of Jim Shalleck in the race for the Republican nomination for attorney general failed to have the desired effect.
Hogan has said he will not vote for Cox for governor and believes Cox’s nomination guarantees Democrats will regain control of the governor’s office in November.