Sen. Ron Johnson
(R-Wis.) criticized the public portrayal of the Jan. 6 riot at the United States
Capitol on Thursday, saying it was “highly biased.” Five people
were killed during the riot.
“I think it was driven by the very slick video that the impeachment
managers produced,” he told reporters at the Milwaukee
Press Club on Thursday, adding, “There has been a lot of false information, but it hasn’t come out of my mouth.”
The video shown at former President Donald Trump
's impeachment trial
in February laid out the deadly timeline of Jan. 6, including how the events coincided with remarks made by Trump himself; in fact, thousands of Trump supporters
marched to the U.S. Capitol that day at the president's urging, in an attempt to prevent Congress
from certifying the election
results in favor of Joe Biden
Johnson has consistently tried to minimize the riot. In February, he said it wasn't an "armed insurgency," despite the fact that there was plenty of evidence of weapons at the Capitol that day, in addition to the violence rioters inflicted on police officers. In March, he said he "never felt threatened" that day and that the pro-Trump mob that pushed past Capitol police
officers were individuals.
Johnson was one of the Republicans
who filibustered legislation to establish an independent bipartisan commission
to investigate the Jan. 6 attack
, both to determine its causes and to determine how such an event could be avoided in the future.
On Thursday, Johnson continued to shift blame away from Trump, saying that the real culprits are “the perpetrators of the crime
.” However, he also hinted that House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) may be to blame, saying he did not trust her to “select commissioners to investigate her own involvement in this thing.”
Pelosi would not have appointed all ten commissioners; Democrats
would appoint half of the commissioners, while Republicans would appoint the other half. Democrats would name the chair because they control both the House and the Senate
Johnson was not one of the senators who voted against certifying Biden as the winner of the election on Jan. 6, but six of his Republican colleagues in the Senate and 121 in the House did. Meanwhile, a late February Monmouth University poll found that two-thirds of Republicans do not believe Biden won legitimately.
Despite his belief that Biden is the true president, Johnson said he supports some state GOP
efforts, such as those in Arizona
, to audit and question the legitimacy of election results due to "irregularities."
Johnson's appearance at the press club on Thursday covered a variety of topics, including whether he believes systemic racism
exists in America, to which he replied, "No," and urged Black activists to read more Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I do not believe America is a systemically racist
nation,” he said, adding, “I wish the current leaders of some of these movements would reread MLK Jr.’s speeches and his approach to achieving greater racial equality.”
White people have frequently whitewashed King's legacy over the years, despite the fact that his approach to white supremacy
was far more radical than often depicted, in ways that would likely make Johnson uncomfortable today.
In 2020, Johnson vetoed a bipartisan effort to make Juneteenth, a commemoration of the abolition of slavery
, a federal holiday, claiming it would be too expensive.
Johnson is up for re-election in 2022, but he has yet to decide whether or not to run.