Republican Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has said that he didn’t feel threatened by former President Donald Trump‘s supporters during the January 6 riots. However, he said he would have felt concerned if the rioters had been associated with Black Lives Matter and Antifa.
Speaking on the March 11 installment of The Joe Pags Show, Johnson told the conservative political commentator:
“[I’ve been] criticized because I’ve made the comment that on January 6 I never felt threatened, because I didn’t. And mainly because I knew that even though those thousands of people there were marching the Capitol trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those are people that love this country, that that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break a law, and so I wasn’t concerned.”
“Now had the tables been turned—and Joe, this’ll get me in trouble—had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election, and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”
Why It Matters
Johnson’s statements about the January 6 insurrection have attracted notoriety and criticism as Congress continues to investigate the insurrection’s main actors and security failures. Congress has already questioned Capitol Police leaders and may hear more from Pentagon, FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials.
On February 15, Johnson said that the incident “didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me,” because of its lack of guns. On February 23, Johnson said in a Senate floor speech that “fake Trump supporters” and Antifa were present at the insurrection.
Johnson took his claim from a non-researched article by security analyst J. Michael Waller. While Johnson admitted that Waller’s assessment “might be … flawed,” he defended citing it in the interest of pursuing all possible explanations.
FBI Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono has said there’s “no indication” to support claims that Antifa protesters participated in the insurrection. Johnson himself has said that he doesn’t believe that Antifa or Black Lives Matter were behind the insurrection. He has also said that white supremacist groups were involved in the riot’s pre-planning.
Despite Johnson’s claim that the pro-Trump insurrectionists “truly respect law enforcement” and “would never do anything to break a law,” over 300 have been arrested and charged for breaking numerous laws during the January 6 uprising.
Roughly 140 police officers were injured during the insurrection, including one with a broken spine, a lost eye, lost fingers and some with brain damage.
A Reuters photojournalist said they heard insurrectionists inside the Capitol actively hunting for Pence with the goal of killing him for refusing to oppose Joe Biden‘s election victory. At another point, rioters seized the gun of Capitol police officer Michael Fanone and encouraged its new owner to kill him with it.
Insurrectionists also shattered windows while trying to access congressional chambers, smeared feces in the hallway, stole riot gear from police and stole congress members’ computer equipment, potentially constituting a national security breach.
Numerous questions about the insurrection remain unanswered, however. It’s still unclear what caused Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick’s death. It’s also unclear whether any congressional lawmakers had ties or communications with rioters beforehand.
Newsweek contacted Johnson’s office for comment.