The Wisconsin Republican knows Joe Biden won the election, but won't admit it publicly.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told a former local Republican Party chair in his home state that he knows Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, but won't say so publicly because doing so would be "political suicide."
Mark Becker, the former chair of the Brown County Republican Party in Wisconsin, said Johnson told him as much in a phone conversation on Nov. 14 — a full week after media organizations had called the race for Biden.
"Senator Johnson knows that Joe Biden won a free and fair election. He is refusing to admit it publicly and stoking conspiracies that undermine our democracy solely because it would be 'political suicide' to oppose Trump," Becker wrote in a piece published by the Bulwark, a conservative outlet that opposes Donald Trump. "I find this unconscionable."
Weeks after the election, and as even Republican election officials across the country plead with Trump and the GOP to stop spreading lies, Johnson is continuing to push the fraud narrative.
On Tuesday, after Attorney General William Barr said there is no evidence of fraud to justify overturning the election results, Johnson said Barr should "show everybody" his evidence that there was no fraud, asking Barr to prove a negative.
Johnson has helped push Trump's baseless conspiracy theories for years.
After Ukrainian leaders refused Trump's pressure campaign to dig up dirt on Biden and his son Hunter, an effort that eventually led to Trump's impeachment, Johnson announced an investigation into Biden's actions in the country.
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney criticized the probe, saying: "Obviously, it is the province of campaigns and political parties' opposition research, the media, to carry out political endeavors, to learn about or dust up one's opponent. But it's not the legitimate role of government or Congress, or for taxpayer expense to be used in an effort to damage political opponents."
And in the end, Johnson's investigation failed to find any incriminating information about Biden.
Becker said he's disturbed by Johnson's complicity in allowing Trump to sow doubt about the democratic process by refusing to say publicly that Trump lost fair and square:
I said I was both frustrated and gravely concerned about how the GOP is continuing to advance disproved conspiracy theories regarding the integrity of the election. Senator Johnson said that he knew and accepted the fact that Joe Biden had won. I asked why he wouldn’t say so at a moment when Trump was taking a sledgehammer to the very foundation of our democracy. Senator Johnson replied that the institutions of our democracy are strong enough to withstand what is going on. This response shocked me, since it suggested that the truth was ultimately unimportant and that Sen. Johnson viewed what the president was doing as someone else’s problem.
Johnson is up for reelection in 2022, and it appears he's worried about the GOP base turning on him.
"The senator understands Joe Biden's victory," Becker wrote. "The problem is he refuses to live in that reality publicly, because of political considerations."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.