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Ron Johnson eyes his 'own investigation' into Capitol attack

What's worse, Ron Johnson's rhetoric about the pandemic or Ron Johnson's rhetoric about the Jan. 6 attack? It's a close call.
Image: Ron Johnson
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on Capitol Hill on Jan. 26, 2021.Susan Walsh / AP file

When it comes to taking stock of Sen. Ron Johnson's (R-Wis.) propensity for peddling nonsense, it's probably best to rely on separate categories.

The Wisconsin Republican has, for example, repeatedly made ridiculous and potentially dangerous comments about COVID-19, vaccines, and the threats posed by the pandemic. He's also been cavalier about his indifference to an FBI warning that he was "a target of Russian disinformation" during the last election cycle. He's denied ever having "talked about the election being stolen," despite ample evidence pointing in the opposite direction. There's also the problem, of course, of the senator relying on ugly rhetoric about immigration when discussing what he sees as efforts to "remake the demographics of America."

But one of my favorite categories is Ron Johnson's nonsense related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The Hill reported this morning:

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) suggested on Wednesday that the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was not an insurrection but a largely "peaceful protest." ... "Even calling it an insurrection, it wasn't," Johnson said during an appearance on Fox News's "Ingraham Angle."

No, of course not. All we saw was a violent group of armed radicals storming the seat of the U.S. government in the hopes of blocking the results of an American election and preventing the rightful president from taking office. Why would anyone call that an "insurrection"? Or for that matter, why would anyone have the audacity to describe the deadly riot as anything other than a "peaceful protest"?

According to TPM, Johnson also told Fox News, "I'm doing my own investigation to really accurately recreate what happened on January 6th." The GOP senator added that the proposed commission, negotiated by Republicans and Democrats, with each party having equal representation on the panel, isn't "bipartisan" enough for him.

And while I'm sure the results of senator's separate investigation will be fascinating, his track record on the subject suggests some skepticism is probably in order.

It was just two months ago, for example, when Johnson insisted there "was no violence" on the north side of the Capitol during the Jan. 6 attack. That wasn't at all true.

But circling back to our earlier coverage, it was part of a pattern. Two weeks earlier, the senator praised the rioters' patriotism and boasted that he was never concerned for his safety on Jan. 6 -- though he added he would've felt differently if the mob was made up of Black Lives Matter protesters.

That came on the heels of Johnson appearing at a Senate hearing, reading an item from a right-wing blog, and peddling the ridiculous idea that the pro-Trump forces that launched the attack on the Capitol were secretly made up of "fake Trump protesters."

Before that, the Wisconsinite falsely argued that armed insurrectionists may not have actually been armed, reality notwithstanding.

The overarching point is hardly subtle: Johnson appears desperate to convince people that the most violent attack on our Capitol in two centuries just wasn't that important. It's the same line that led to last night's nonsense.

The senator wrote a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, which ran with a headline that read, "I Won't Be Silenced by the Left." In reality, it's clear that no one is trying to shut down Johnson's right to say what he pleases, but it's equally clear that everyone would benefit if he enjoyed a little quiet time.