Turns Out Ron Johnson May Have Told One Or Two Wee Fibs About Those Fake Electoral Certificates
On Wednesday, the January 6 Select Committee revealed that Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson tried to pass fake electoral certificates from Wisconsin and Michigan to Vice President Mike Pence on the day of the Capitol Riot.
"Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS, please advise," Johnson's top aide Sean Riley texted Vice President Mike Pence's legislative director Chris Hodgson at 12:37 p.m. as Congress was convening to certify Joe Biden's electoral vote win.
"What is it?" Hodgson responded.
Upon being informed that Johnson was trying to fob off "Alternate slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn't receive them," Hodgson was unequivocal.
"Do not give that to him," he shot back immediately.
Since then, we've gotten three versions of the story, all of which have people asking questions which Ron Johnson insists have already been answered by his "Not Involved in Mounting a Coup" T-shirt.
Version #1: Immaculate Conception
Immediately after the disclosure, Johnson insisted that he had no idea where the documents came from. It was a "staff to staff exchange" he repeated over and over, while insisting that it was "a complete non-story" that he'd tried to slip Mike Pence multiple fraudulent documents that would have invalidated the ballots of more than 8 million voters.
\u201cAsked Johnson if he\u2019d ask his aides to ID person who gave them fake names: \u201cWe didn\u2019t know -- literally don't \u2013 it was staff to staff \u2013 somebody from the House, some staff intern said \u2026 the Vice President needs this or whatever. I wasn't involved. I don't know what they said\u201d\u201d— Manu Raju (@Manu Raju) 1655849815
Then he called the hearings a "partisan witch hunt," which makes perfect sense if you ignore the fact that every single witness has been a Republican except for the two poll workers in Georgia whose lives were ruined after Trump painted a target on their backs.
Version #2: It Was Ummm ... That Dude From Pennsylvania!
On Thursday, Johnson told conservative radio host Vicki McKenna that he'd gotten the fake electoral certificates from Rep. Mike Kelly, a Trump-loving Pennsylvania Republican who filed a lawsuit to invalidate every one of his state's mail-in ballots.
\u201cNEW: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) tells Wisconsin conservative radio host Vicki McKenna that the false electors documents he attempted to deliver to Vice President Mike Pence came from Rep. Mike Kelly's (R-PA) office.\u201d— Heartland Signal (@Heartland Signal) 1656018423
"We didn't know what it was. We thought it was documents involved in the electors," Johnson said indignantly, while distancing himself from the handoff, saying he was "probably already up in the senate, okay?"
Johnson seemed to think it was totally normal that a Pennsylvania congressman's office would have fraudulent electoral certificates from Wisconsin, but found it "odd" that he'd have the Michigan slate, too. Nevertheless, he defended the plan to slip Mike Pence fake documents in an attempt to thwart the orderly transfer of power as "appropriate."
Rep. Kelly, however, said he had no idea what that weirdo was talking about.
"Senator Johnson's statements about Representative Kelly are patently false," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "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."
Version #3: Okay, Fine! It Was the MAGA Lawyers.
Having been caught out in yet another lie, Johnson trotted off to disgraced reporter John Solomon, late of The Hill (and we will never let those bastards live that shit down). After lamenting the Democrats' "smear tactics," Johnson admitted that he'd been contacted by a lawyer in Wisconsin on the morning of January 6 "because he knew me, they wanted to deliver these because I'm the only guy that can really deliver these to Pence.”
According to Solomon, the Trump campaign contacted Rep. Kelly; who contacted Jim Troupis, a MAGA lawyer who'd filed multiple election LOLsuits in Wisconsin; who then contacted Johnson; who then handed it off to his staffer; who then reached out to a Pence staffer.
So ... not really a "staff to staff" exchange after all, huh?
"I never tried to push, never talked to the vice president about this. I mean, my involvement literally, I can only assume probably took seconds. If not, you know, certainly no more than a minute or two. And this got blown into, like I was part of some vast rightwing conspiracy to undermine the election," Johnson whined to Solomon. "Nothing could be further from the truth."
Then Solomon dutifully reported that "texts showed his staff actually decided not to have the senator deliver an alternate slate of electors to Pence," even though the supposed additional context supplied by Solomon shows nothing of the kind.
When questioned about his ever-shifting stories, Johnson pointed to Solomon's reporting and insisted that it confirmed his version of events, conveniently ignoring the fact that he'd supplied several versions and been caught lying in each and every one.
And not for nothing, but we're scratching our head wondering how a lawyer from Wisconsin got his hands on the fugazi electoral certificates from Michigan? Because those were original, signed hard copies, and they had to come from somewhere. Maybe we'll find out that detail in one of the inevitable revisions to Johnson's story. Or if not, the federal grand jury investigating the fake electors scheme which dropped subpoenas in four states last week will probably be able to sort it out.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.