April 18, 2021

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Ron Johnson just said that January 6 wasn’t an ‘armed insurrection’

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“This didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me. When you hear the word ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask: How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?”

Well, as of Monday morning, more than 221 people had been arrested as a result of the Capitol riot, according to CNN’s reporting. (Here are some of the most prominent.) Five people died in the riots. And while overrun police were in no position to confiscate guns and other weapons brought by rioters to the Capitol, PolitiFact wrote Sunday night that “we still can identify accounts of numerous weapons found in and around the Capitol, brought there in some cases by people who saw themselves as soldiers in a war.”

“Prosecutors on Thursday also said they believe paramilitary Trump supporters discussed transporting weapons across the Potomac River into Washington, DC.

“The weapons-by-boat plan is mentioned in a court filing from DOJ arguing to keep in jail Thomas Caldwell, a Virginia man charged with conspiracy and alleged to have helped to organize Oath Keeper and other extremist group rioters.”

Leading House Democrat sues Donald Trump under a post-Civil War law for conspiracy to incite US Capitol riot

That Johnson would be so drastically out-of-touch is deeply concerning. But not at all surprising.

After all, earlier this month Johnson pushed a wild conspiracy theory about the origins of the January 6 riot. Here’s Johnson during an interview on Fox News February 7:

“Well, again, I have always believed the Russian hoax was a diversionary operation from the corruption that was occurring within certainly the FBI and potentially some of our intelligence agencies.

“You have to kind of ask the question, what is this impeachment all about? We now know that 45 Republican senators believe it’s unconstitutional. Is this another diversionary operation? Is this meant to deflect away from potentially what the speaker knew and when she knew it?

“I don’t know. But I’m suspicious.”

Uh huh. This should go without saying but there’s zero evidence that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California a) did anything wrong during the riot or b) impeached Donald Trump to cover up said nonexistent wrongdoing.

And Johnson has also been on the leading edge of downplaying the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic. Last spring, Johnson was arguing that the economy needed to open back up because, well, people die all the time. He wrote this in a USA Today op-ed:

“Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life. More than 2.8 million die each year — nearly 7,700 a day. The 2017-18 flu season was exceptionally bad, with 61,000 deaths attributed to it. Can you imagine the panic if those mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop?”

When Johnson’s piece was published — March 29 — the CDC counted around 7,100 American deaths from coronavirus. That number is now almost 450,000.

So, yeah.

Johnson has yet to make up his mind about whether to run for reelection next November. During his 2016 campaign, he pledged this would be his last term but he has backtracked since. Johnson has also been floated as a possible candidate against Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers in 2022.

If Johnson is planning to run for reelection or for governor, he’s got a very odd way of going about it. While his downplaying of the Capitol riot and his other conspiracy theories might play well with the Trump base, Wisconsin voted for Joe Biden over the 45th president last November. And it’s hard to see how Johnson’s wildly irresponsible comments are going to endear him to swing voters.

CNN’s Paul Murphy contributed to this report.

2021-02-16 13:47:28

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