Throughout the week, the Senate will be holding a series of hearings concerning the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. On Tuesday, the focus was on the security failures that let scores of rioters break into the building, halt the certification of Joe Biden’s win, and put countless people’s lives—including that of the then vice president—at risk. (The attack, of course, also led to the deaths of five people.) Obviously, this was an opportunity for lawmakers to learn more about what happened that day, gain valuable insight from witnesses who were on the scene, and figure out the steps that need to be taken to avoid such an event ever happening again. Or, if you’re Senator Ron Johnson, noted Trump ally and promoter of baseless election-fraud claims, it was an opportunity to spread a ridiculous conspiracy theory about who really attacked the Capitol last month.
Yes, in keeping with the grand Republican tradition of shamelessly lying about easily fact-checkable things, on camera, in front of millions, Johnson used his time on Tuesday to insist that the people who breached the Capitol weren’t actually supporters of the 45th president but left-wing agitators who were impersonating Trump supporters:
Citing a first-hand account of J. Michael Waller, a right-wing think tank scholar, Johnson blamed “fake Trump supporters” for provoking the Capitol Police, which is basically like being caught at the scene of a crime and claiming “that wasn’t me, that was someone dressed up as me!” It’s insulting and stupid and no one believes because it’s one of the laziest excuses ever. Also, because there is robust evidence to the contrary. Per the Independent:
Mr. Johnson’s theories about the nature of the bloody riot, which resulted in the deaths of five people, including a police officer, have not been borne out by subsequent arrests and investigations. The feds have indicted more than 250 people for their roles in the riot, many of whom have said they believed they were following Donald Trump’s orders when they stormed the legislature—a fact that contradicts Mr. Johnson’s narrative that the “jovial, friendly, earnest demeanour of the great majority” was sabotaged by left-wing anarchists disguised as right-wingers.
At least 14 of those arrested have professed to be supporters of the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy theory that believed the former president was elected to wage a shadow war against a cannibalistic cabal of Satan-worshipping paedophiles consisting of Democratic politicians, Hollywood elites, and other prominent liberals. Another 16 have links to the so-called Proud Boys, a fringe right-wing militia group that strongly backs Mr Trump. Scores of news outlets have published investigative reports with details about the open planning happening on right-wing message boards in the days and weeks leading up to the storming of the Capitol.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time Johnson had something uniquely stupid to say about the events of January 6. Earlier this month, he claimed in an interview the attack wasn’t “an armed insurrection” even though, definitionally, that’s exactly what it was. Speaking to WISN, Johnson opined: “When you hear the word ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask: How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?” Of course, in court filings officials have noted that bombs, stun guns, and other weapons were seized from the rioters, while 14 people are facing charges for bringing weapons to the riot, including a Maryland man who police claim stormed the Capitol with not just a gun but multiple magazines and a bulletproof vest.
Johnson has also blamed the riot on Nancy Pelosi, though he has not said if the House speaker worked directly with the people impersonating Trump supporters or if she just texted them ideas for how to pass as members of the ex-president’s base.
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