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Doctor that promoted false hydroxychloroquine claims arrested in connection with Capitol riot

Federal officials this weekend arrested the head of a fringe medical group that has promoted false claims about vaccines and the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine in connection with the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The Justice Department said in charging documents that it had charged Simone Gold, head of America’s Frontline Doctors, with violent entry, disorderly conduct and entering a restricted building. John Strand, the group’s communications director, was also charged in connection with the riot, with the Justice Department including images of both inside the building.

Gold confirmed to The Washington Post on Jan. 12 that she was present at the riot and does "regret being there,” but told the newspaper, “I can certainly speak to the place that I was, and it most emphatically was not a riot.” However, the affidavit indicates that a video of a police officer who was pulled down by a member of the mob during the riot landed in front of Strand and Gold.

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In 2020, the group was one of the most vocal in promoting the unproven use of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus, a claim then-President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new tranche of endorsements DeSantis, Pence tied in 2024 Republican poll Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food MORE repeatedly hyped. Numerous studies have indicated the drug is not effective against the virus.

Another doctor associated with the group, Stella Immanuel, has been widely mocked for suggesting treatments for the virus involve alien DNA.

Earlier this month the group promoted unsubstantiated claims about health risks from coronavirus vaccines, with Gold herself drawing a misleading distinction between vaccines and “experimental vaccines,” according to MedPageToday.

After the group held a press conference in front of the Supreme Court in July, a video of which Trump retweeted, then-Vice President Pence met with members of the group. Gold was present at the meeting, where she said participants “discussed the recent censorship of doctors on social media platforms.”

The Hill has reached out to Gold for comment.