Extremist Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) snapped at a local reporter that he was only involved in Donald Trump’s Jan. 6 plot to overturn the presidential election with fake electors for a “couple of seconds.”
Johnson, trailing in the polls against Democratic rival state Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, suddenly appears to be backpedaling as fast as he can from his former slavish devotion to Trump and false claims of a rigged presidential election.
Johnson was asked Friday by journalist Matt Smith from Milwaukee ABC affiliate WISN if he would testify about the fake electors plot before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Johnson has acknowledged he was asked to pass an envelope with a slate of fake electors to then-Vice President Mike Pence, but claimed he had absolutely no idea what was going on.
“I had virtually no involvement,” the testy senator responded. “Literally, my involvement lasted seconds, OK?”
Any hint of wrongdoing in the fake elector plot is a “grotesque distortion,” he added.
“I had nothing to do with the alternate slate. I had no idea that anybody was going to ask me to deliver those,” Johnson said. “My involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple of seconds … I knew nothing about it.”
The slate of electors was never delivered because Pence’s staff said it wasn’t wanted, according to Johnson.
Early this summer, Johnson pretended to take a nonexistent phone call when reporters peppered him with questions about the slate of fake Wisconsin electors.
“I’m on the phone,” Johnson snapped at the time.
After the Jan. 6 riot, Johnson in a radio program interview defended the Capitol rioters as “peaceful” — even after millions of Americans watched the violence on live TV.
“I knew those are people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said on “The Joe Pags Show.”
Almost 850 people have been charged with crimes in the storming of the Capitol. Johnson said he would have been “concerned” had the rioters been Black Lives Matter protesters.
Johnson, the most vulnerable Senate Republican in this year’s election, appears to be among extremist GOP candidates struggling against Democrats in November, at least in swing states. The senator himself appears to think his previous slavish devotion to Trump may no longer serve him.
“My election’s about me running as a U.S. senator dealing with issues that are impacting Wisconsinites,” Johnson said on WISN’s ’Upfront” program, produced with WisPolitics.com.
“I don’t personally think Trump should have any impact whatsoever on this election in November 2022,” Johnson said.