Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) attempted to create some distance between himself and President Trump when a reporter recently pressed him on his staff’s apparent involvement in a fake electors scheme to help Trump steal a second term.
Johnson, a known Trump ally who has repeatedly boosted bogus claims of widespread election fraud, was asked whether he would testify about the fake electors plot before the Jan. 6 Select Committee in an interview with ABC affiliate WISN, which aired Sunday.
Johnson snapped, calling the notion that his staff was involved in the fake electors scheme “another grotesque distortion” because it was a short-lived episode that lasted for a mere “couple of seconds,” he claimed.
“I had nothing to do with the alternate slate. I had no idea that anybody was going to ask me to deliver those,” Johnson said. “My involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple of seconds.”
Johnson claimed that a few of those precious seconds dedicated to the fake electors plot involved him fielding three text messages and sending two, as well as speaking to his chief of staff about “someone” who wanted him to deliver “something.”
“I knew nothing about it,” Johnson said, adding that the slate of fake electors were never delivered because Pence’s staff did not want them.
Johnson then complained about the Jan. 6 Select Committee drawing attention to his staff’s involvement in the scheme, which he once again insisted had been “blown out of proportion.”
“They blew this up into some massive conspiracy,” Johnson complained. “I had virtually no involvement. My involvement lasted seconds.”
Asked what he would’ve done if the then-vice president’s chief of staff was willing to deliver the fake slates of electors, Johnson tensed up.
“In what way could have I? We did our due diligence. If somebody hands us something, we are supposed to deliver to the vice presidency — does he want it? Nope. OK, end of story.”
Johnson’s latest remarks add to his repeated squirming about the issue. The Jan. 6 Select Committee revealed his staff’s supposed involvement in the plot during a hearing in June focused on Trump’s pressure campaign targeting state officials — all part of Trump and his allies’ broader efforts to subvert the election.
Days after the committee’s revelation, Johnson faked a phone call and blamed an unnamed intern for his staff’s effort to deliver the fake electors to Pence.
“I was not involved in this at all. I don’t know why you’re asking me questions, so why don’t you just leave me alone?” Johnson snapped, when pressed by reporters in June.
Johnson’s latest attempt to distance himself from Trump and his allies’ fake electors scheme comes as he trails in the polls against Democratic rival state Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, whom he will face in the Wisconsin Senate election in November. A poll from the Marquette University Law School released last week shows that Barnes has a 7-percentage-point lead in the Senate race, with Barnes supported by 51% and Johnson supported by 44%.