Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has been on the forefront of elevating fringe theories about President Biden’s son Hunter, the coronavirus and the outcomes of the 2020 election.
In current weeks he has come beneath renewed scrutiny for claiming in a collection of radio interviews in his residence state that the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol was not an “armed insurrection” and for utilizing his time throughout a Senate listening to to learn a first-person account that posited “provocateurs” and “fake Trump supporters” have been behind the assault.
Mr. Johnson has a fame for being among the many most accessible, high-profile Republicans in Washington, often defending his views to the mainstream information media — one thing lots of his G.O.P. colleagues don’t do.
He spoke with The New York Times on Thursday about his theories of who was answerable for the assault on the Capitol and what he wish to see included within the congressional investigation of it. The interview has been frivolously edited and condensed.
You have been on the radio not too long ago speaking about the way it wasn’t an armed rebel. I used to be curious what the origin of that perspective was for you.
When I believe armed, I believe firearms. And yeah, we don’t know. I do not know. That’s one of many questions I’ve bought is, what number of firearms have been seen, have been confiscated? How many photographs have been fired? I consider the one ones that have been fired have been from legislation enforcement. And I’ve mentioned I’ll defend legislation enforcement for taking motion. I don’t perceive what the uproar is. But apparently, there’s uproar someplace. Somebody takes offense to it.
And I might say, if it’s correctly termed an “armed insurrection,” it was a fairly ragtag one. And once more, I don’t dispute the destruction, or damaging functionality of issues like flagpoles and bats and that sort of factor, however once more, phrases have that means.
Well, what’s your feeling about who made up the group that stormed the Capitol?
I don’t know, and I’m asking the query. I’m making no assumptions.
There are simply so many unanswered questions, which appears to be form of the fundamental state of affairs in so many issues I’m attempting to resolve. But right here we’re virtually two months later, and there are simply fundamental items of knowledge which can be lacking right here.
In the Senate listening to the opposite day, you learn the piece from The Federalist that recommended there have been type of provocateurs and “fake Trump supporters” that had designs on producing bother from the gang. And I questioned, do you share that evaluation?
I believe it’s vital, if we’re going to essentially get the entire reality, to know precisely what occurred, we have to have a look at totally different vantage factors, totally different views.
I learn that article, I believe, as quickly because it was printed, which was shortly after Jan. 6. And I used to be intrigued by it. Because right here was a person that, once more, I didn’t know him on the time. I really spoke to him yesterday for the primary time. But I didn’t know who he was. It simply seems like he had a fairly good background. This is an teacher, specializing in one of these psychological sort of warfare and that sort of factor. So he gave the impression to be a educated observer.
And I used to be simply fascinated by the truth that he wrote down his ideas, about 14, 15 pages, with out taking a look at any information. So it’s form of an unblemished accounting. And that’s actually form of the eyewitness accounts you wish to look at. I’m not saying you settle for all the pieces. You don’t essentially settle for his conclusions. I believe you form of must take at face worth what he mentioned he noticed.
Do you consider that, because the Federalist creator Michael Waller wrote, that there have been faux Trump protesters within the crowd?
That’s what he mentioned he thought he noticed. I believe later within the article, he didn’t see any who he would have thought have been faux Trump protesters, he didn’t see them interact in any violence. I believe he writes that in his article. Yeah. I’m letting his testimony stand by itself. I wasn’t there.
Again, I’m drawing no conclusions in any way. Again, a whole lot of press experiences are assuming, imputing every kind of conclusions. They’re saying I’m saying issues that I’m not saying in any respect. All I’m saying at this time limit is we have to ask a whole lot of questions.
I ponder why you assume there’s benefit to giving an viewers to Mr. Waller’s assertions that there have been both provocateurs or faux Trump supporters within the crowd, given the dearth of proof.
I’m not questioning his veracity. I consider he’s in all probability telling the reality. That’s what he noticed. I’m not agreeing with any conclusions. I’m unsure he’s actually making too many conclusions, aside from he concluded he noticed 4 particular person sorts of teams that stood out from the gang.
It could be a flawed a part of the proof, however why exclude it? Just as a result of it doesn’t essentially tie into no matter narrative any individual else desires to inform in regards to the day? I’m not within the narratives, I’m within the reality.
There’s been a whole lot of discuss amongst a few of your Republican colleagues in Congress about antifa or Black Lives Matter being concerned in instigating what occurred. Do you share that perception?
It doesn’t actually seem to be that was the problem. It seems, once more, that is all early, I haven’t drawn any conclusions, nevertheless it seems if there was any preplanning by teams, it was white supremacist teams, just like the Proud Boys or the Oath Keepers, that sort of factor. That’s what it seems.
I’ve seen movies of different individuals claiming to be antifa of their resort rooms. I don’t know if any of that’s been verified. But no, once more, I’m drawing no conclusions in any respect. But proper now, it seems that there have been provocateurs or agitators. It would seem it could in all probability be from the white supremacist teams which have already been named. But I haven’t talked to the F.B.I.
You have been on with Maria Bartiromo and talked about being towards violent extremists from the left or the proper. And it sounds such as you’ve type of landed on the place that these have been right-wing teams that have been concerned in organizing what occurred on Jan. 6. Is that proper?
It looks like these white supremacist teams appear to be answerable for this. I actually condemn it. I imply, I’m not proud of it.
I’ve attended a whole lot of Trump rallies. You discuss to lots of people. You see the temper in these crowds. And it’s festive. It is joyful. You’re loving America. And it’s positively pro-law enforcement and anti-breaking the legislation. Which is, once more, why I actually don’t suspect, even a big pro-Trump crowd, I didn’t anticipate any violence from them.
You mentioned you need what you say to be correct. And you learn Mr. Waller’s piece, however with out essentially doing any due diligence to see whether or not what he was saying checked out.
What do you imply, checked out? It’s his eyewitness account. What else is there to take a look at about it? I learn what his credentials have been, the place he was educating, at Fort Bragg. I imply, you’ll be able to see within the article what his credentials are. He gave the impression to be fairly strong.
A pair days later The Washington Post wrote an article that was very near form of describing issues as Mr. Waller did, too. So that added additional credence, from my standpoint, that what he noticed, different individuals form of noticed and observed and drew comparable sorts of conclusions. Again, it’s only one piece of knowledge that must be checked out, must be thought of, must be examined, must be verified, in contrast towards different issues.
Again, I’m not afraid of knowledge. I’m amazed at how many individuals are. And how fast persons are to place the conspiracy concept label on one thing, or name it disinformation.
You’ve mentioned tens of thousands and thousands of Americans didn’t belief the election outcomes. I ponder, how a lot do you assume that’s as a result of Republican leaders, from President Trump on down, informed them to not belief the election outcomes?
I believe that there’s a variety of explanation why. But I’d say the primary cause is that they noticed their TV screens, observers not with the ability to observe. They see in states the place all these different counties can flip in thousands and thousands of votes, however in a couple of massive counties in swing states, they only can’t get the vote totals in by 10 o’clock at evening, for some cause. It simply raises a degree of suspicion.
Well, in Wisconsin that’s because —
It’s unlucky the mainstream media’s revealed themselves to be so unbelievably biased that individuals on the opposite aspect of the aisle, the opposite aspect of the political spectrum, merely don’t belief them anymore. That’s a part of the problem, too.
One last item. Where are you on working for re-election subsequent 12 months?
Haven’t determined. Don’t must determine for some time.
Do you might have a timeline for that?
Yeah. But I’m not essentially going to disclose it to you.