When politicians facing a controversy start changing their story, it tends to make the controversy worse. Sen. Ron Johnson may not fully appreciate this simple truth. Politico reported this morning on the Wisconsin Republican and the latest evolution in his story about his Jan. 6 efforts.
The story Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is telling about his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, continues to change…. In video posted Monday, Johnson seems to acknowledge the whole push was futile. “There was never going to be a chance of disallowing any elector,” he tells journalist and activist Lauren Windsor in video uploaded to Twitter.
At face value, this may not seem especially notable, but let’s revisit our earlier coverage and review how we arrived at this point.
A week ago today, we learned that on Jan. 6, just minutes before Congress was set to certify the election results, Johnson’s chief of staff reached out to an aide for then-Vice President Mike Pence. The senator’s top staffer said the GOP senator “needed” to hand-deliver forged election materials from fake electors in Michigan and Wisconsin to Pence.
The then-vice president’s aide responded, “Do not give that to him.”
After these revelations came to light, reporters pressed Johnson for an explanation. After a hilarious attempt at pretending to be on the phone, the senator eventually said he was “basically unaware” of the whole scheme, adding, “I had no knowledge of this.”
The then-chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, we were told, had simply played the role of a clueless delivery guy. Some unknown person dropped off an envelope at his office, at which point Johnson agreed to serve as a mindless, uncritical conduit between Republican operatives and the office of the vice president.
Then the story change a bit. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on Johnson conceding, two days after the initial revelations, that he coordinated with a Wisconsin-based attorney — Dane County attorney Jim Troupis, who at the time, was a Trump campaign counsel — and his chief of staff about the bogus electors.
Johnson then added some more details, claiming that the documents arrived at his office by way of Republican Rep. Mike Kelly — an assertion the Pennsylvania congressman quickly described as “patently false.” Kelly added in a statement, “Mr. Kelly has not spoken to Sen. Johnson for the better part of a decade, and he has no knowledge of the claims Mr. Johnson is making related to the 2020 election.”
Of course, if all this “just wasn’t going to happen,” then why did Johnson get so involved in the first place? And why has the GOP lawmaker struggled so badly with his version of events?
The Journal Sentinel published an editorial this morning. “The more we learn about the role Wisconsin’s senior senator played in the days leading up to the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, the more things don’t add up,” it read. “And the more it looks like Johnson or his team may have aided a Trump administration conspiracy to overturn the lawful election of Joe Biden.” The editorial added:
Johnson has proven by his past actions that he isn’t fit to be a U.S. senator. This latest episode only makes that more clear. The citizens of Wisconsin, regardless of party, should vote him out of office in November. Federal law enforcement officers, who are assigned to defend the Constitution, should get to the bottom of the effort to unlawfully create phony electors in Wisconsin and other battleground states. And they need to look into whether Johnson played any role to overrule the citizens’ votes and overturn the last presidential election.
The incumbent Republican will face voters in November. Recent polling suggests he’s in trouble.
The House Jan. 6 committee is holding its sixth public hearing on Tuesday, June 28 at 1 p.m. ET. Get expert analysis in real-time on our liveblog at msnbc.com/jan6hearings.