During a Tuesday Senate hearing covering the violence at the Capitol on January 6, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) used his questioning time to push a conspiracy theory that those behind much of the rioting were “provocateurs” rather than actual Trump supporters. This conspiracy theory contradicts the basic documented reality of what took place at the Capitol, where rioters put huge Trump flags on display and proudly proclaimed their allegiance to Trump as they swarmed the building and searched for political leaders who they apparently wished to murder. Reality didn’t stop Ron Johnson.
Is Ron Johnson trying to argue now that the insurrection wasn’t so bad because there were good people in the crowd?! Is this actually happening? This was a pro-police crowd he argues.
This is worthy of the committee’s time? Seriously?
— Kate Bolduan (@KateBolduan) February 23, 2021
Johnson read from a column by J. Michael Waller, a right-wing commentator who was in D.C. on January 6. Among other details, Waller claimed — and Johnson reiterated — that the pro-Trump crowd in the city was “positive and festive” when the commentator encountered them, as if this somehow eliminates the fact that, shortly thereafter, a mob stormed the Capitol and inflicted dangerous and deadly violence that is connected to multiple deaths. Amazingly, Waller also claimed — and Johnson also reiterated — that the members of the crowd were largely not in the physical shape for perpetrating a riot, adding that “many” carried expressions of support for the police — which does not somehow erase the fact that officers were subsequently brutalized by the maniacal rioters.
“It was not Antifa."
NEW: At about the same time Sen. Ron Johnson floated a conspiracy theory on the Capitol attack, the feds unsealed a case against a Trump fan who brawled with police and then tried to shoot down Antifa rumors on a pro-Trump forum.https://t.co/dY97dr2J1w
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) February 23, 2021
Johnson got to his ridiculous point when he reiterated a claim from Waller that “fake Trump protesters” were in D.C. on the day of the rioting. This claim is ridiculous — there is no apparent meaningful evidence that any “fake Trump supporters” were in any meaningful way involved in the rioting at the Capitol, but that’s exactly the claim that Johnson was pushing with his presentation of the laughably irrelevant observations from J. Michael Waller. Quoting Waller, Johnson said that “provocateurs” turned “unsuspecting marchers into an invading mob,” as though the Trump supporters who he would admit participated in the violent storming of the Capitol were somehow swept up bystanders.
Ron Johnson is using his questioning time during the Capitol security hearing to promote a conspiracy theory that the January 6 insurrectionists weren't actually Trump supporters, but were "provocateurs" and "fake Trump protesters" pic.twitter.com/t72QkHDbaG
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 23, 2021
In an obviously leading question for ex-Capitol Police chief Steven Sund, Johnson subsequently insisted that the “vast majority of Trump supporters are pro-law enforcement, and the last thing they would do is violate the law.” Throughout his rambling questioning, Johnson seemed disconnected from the basic reality of the circumstances of the Capitol rioting and its aftermath.
Watch Johnson’s comments below: