U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson in a phone interview said he knew the effort to challenge Arizona’s electoral votes would fail because House Dems wouldn’t support it.
But he wanted the objection raised so the chambers could debate claims of irregularities in the Nov. 3 election.
Johnson said he believed the debate would help dispel some myths about the election and said one thing he didn’t like about it was “how dismissive people were about these concerns.”
The Oshkosh Republican over the weekend said he planned to join the effort to object to the electoral votes in some states. But in the end, he voted against sustaining the objection to Arizona and Pennsylvania’s votes.
Johnson also rejected the suggestion that Trump’s rhetoric or the actions of those who objected to accepting some states’ electoral votes contributed to the violent protest at the Capitol.
He said the blame rests solely with the people “that unlawfully entered the Capitol and vandalized it.” Johnson also insisted those who stormed the Capitol “do not in any way, shape or form remind me or look like or act like any Trump supporter I know.”
Johnson’s comments that the president and objectors bear no blame for the violence drew blowback from Dems.
State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, considered a possible candidate for the Senate in 2022, tweeted, “@RonJohnsonWI has told a lot of lies recently. This may be his biggest one yet.”
Johnson said he passed up an opportunity to speak on the Senate floor during the debate over Arizona’s electoral votes. But he released the text of what he’d prepared to say, including the assertion that those who have lost faith in the nation’s institutions and the fairness of the electoral system, but “patriots who dearly love America and are alarmed by what they have witnessed over the last four years.” That includes his complaints of a corrupt FBI investigation of President Trump, a “grossly biased media,” social media that censors conservatives, and courts and election officials who have usurped the authority of state legislatures.
See the prepared remarks here.
The Oshkosh Republican said he has “a lot of people talking” to him about whether he’ll run for reelection in 2022.
Johnson had pledged to serve just two terms ahead of his reelection in 2016, but has hedged on that promise.
He acknowledged Dems’ wins in the two Georgia U.S. Senate races will play into his decision. Those wins mean a 50-50 split in the Senate with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote to put Dems in charge.
Johnson was already term-limited out of his chairmanship of the Homeland Security & Government Affairs Committee. But if Republicans had retained control of the Senate, he would’ve been in line to chair the panel’s permanent subcommittee on investigations.
“All those things play into my decision,” Johnson said. “Does Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) actually respect and follow through on his promise that he wouldn’t eliminate the filibuster? We’ll see if he honors that promise.”