Former congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said Monday that he was among the crowds outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but claimed that he was there to protest the election and did not join others in storming the building.

Rohrabacher acknowledged his presence outside the Capitol in an interview with a Maine newspaper. Over the weekend, social media users began circulating photos that appeared to show the former congressman and an associate standing among the pro-Trump crowd.

“I marched to protest, and I thought the election was fraudulent and it should be investigated, and I wanted to express that and be supportive of that demand,” Rohrabacher, 73, said in the interview with the Portland Press Herald. “But I was not there to make a scene and do things that were unacceptable for anyone to do.”

Rohrabacher could not immediately be reached for comment Monday night.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, and dozens of court challenges seeking to overturn President Biden’s victory failed.

Nearly 140 police officers were assaulted during the insurrection, authorities said, facing some rioters armed with ax handles, bats, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks and other weapons.

The House last month passed legislation that would form an independent commission to investigate the attack. But the measure failed to advance in the Senate, with nearly all Republicans in the chamber banding together in opposition.

During his time as a member of Congress, Rohrabacher earned a reputation as among the most vocal defenders of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. In June 2016, then-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asserted in a private conversation with other Republican leaders: “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.”

Rohrabacher served in Congress for 30 years. After losing reelection in 2018, he moved to Maine and has been active in the cannabis industry. He and his wife, Rhonda, have also taken steps toward becoming active in local politics in their new hometown of York.

According to the Portland Press Herald, videos of the Jan. 6 riot show the former congressman was nearly 500 feet inside the restricted zone surrounding the Capitol, but there are no signs that he tried to enter the building.

In the interview with the newspaper, Rohrabacher also promoted a false narrative about the storming of the Capitol, claiming without evidence that “leftist provocateurs” led the charge.

“By going into the building, they gave the left the ability to direct the discussion of what was going on in a way that was harmful to the things we believe in,” Rohrabacher said.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has made similar false claims about the identities of those who stormed the Capitol. Federal officials have said there is no substantial evidence of left-wing provocation or that anti-fascist activists posed as Trump supporters during the riot.

Katie Shepherd contributed to this report.