The January 6 select committee released a text message from the Wisconsin Republican senator's staff trying to submit fraudulent electors.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) attempted to help subvert the results of the 2020 presidential election, text messages released by the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection revealed on Tuesday.
As part of its televised hearing, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol revealed that Sean Riley, Johnson's chief of staff, attempted to arrange to transmit fraudulent Electoral College certificates to then-Vice President Mike Pence falsely showing that defeated President Donald Trump had won Michigan and Wisconsin.
Casey Lucier, an investigative counsel for the committee, said in the presentation that at the behest of the Trump campaign, "a staffer for Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson texted a staffer for Vice President Pence just minutes before the beginning of the joint session" at which the House and Senate would receive the Electoral College results and certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
Riley messaged Chris Hodgson, Pence's director of legislative affairs, at 12:37 p.m. on Jan. 6, 2021, saying, "Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise." Asked what the item was, Riley answered, "Alternate slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them."
Hodgson responded, "Do not give that to him."
Biden won the popular vote in Michigan and Wisconsin in November 2020 — as well as in swing states Arizona, Georgia, New Mexico, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — and thus earned all of those states' votes in the 538-member Electoral College.
But 84 Trump supporters in those seven states pretended to be electors and tried to cast electoral votes for Trump. The New Mexico and Pennsylvania fake delegations wrote that their votes should be counted only if the election was disputed (which Pennsylvania's results ultimately were), while the rest simply falsely declared themselves to be the legitimate electors.
Federal prosecutors are reportedly investigating the false Trump electors' plan to overturn the election.
The January 6 committee documented that the Trump campaign was deeply involved with this effort — part of what Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) said Sunday amounted to a "seditious conspiracy."
While Johnson initially backed the scheme to reject Biden's win in some of the swing states, he ultimately voted to uphold Biden's win after Trump supporters' invasion of the U.S. Capitol delayed the joint session for several hours.
In September 2021, Wisconsin Public Radio reported that a recording — apparently made without Johnson's awareness — captured the Republican senator admitting that there was "nothing obviously skewed about the results" of the 2020 election in Wisconsin.
"The only reason Trump lost Wisconsin is 51,000 Republican voters didn't vote for him," Johnson said in the recording. "If all the Republicans voted for Trump the way they voted for [Wisconsin State] Assembly candidates, he would have won. He didn't get 51,000 votes other Republicans got — that's why he lost."
In response to a request by the American Independent Foundation for comment, Johnson spokesperson Alexa Henning shared a pair of tweets minimizing — but not actually denying anything about — the committee's findings.
"The senator had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office. This was a staff to staff exchange. His new Chief of Staff contacted the Vice President's office," Henning wrote. "The Vice President's office said not to give it to him and we did not. There was no further action taken. End of story."
The four Democratic candidates seeking the Senate nomination seized on Tuesday's news and condemned Johnson's role in the conspiracy.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes released a statement calling for Johnson to step down: "Ron Johnson actively tried to undermine this democracy. He literally tried to hand Mike Pence fake ballots. Once again, Ron Johnson has proven he's a danger to our country and our fundamental rights. I'm calling for him to resign immediately."
State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski tweeted, "There it is. Ron Johnson was directly involved in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election and overrule the will of Wisconsin voters. He is a threat to our democracy and a disgrace to our state."
Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry wrote, "Ron Johnson is a seditious traitor and a danger to democracy."
Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson added: "The @January6thCmte just introduced evidence that fully implicates @SenRonJohnson in the 'fake elector' scheme to overthrow American democracy. Tell me how this isn't a crime? I've called for him to be subpoenaed by the committee. I hope the @USDOJ pays attention as well."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.