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Sen. Ron Johnson tells constituents FBI had advance knowledge of January 6 riot but did nothing


Sen. Ron Johnson tells constituents FBI had advance knowledge of January 6 riot but did nothing, says protesters were peaceful ‘by and large’, and claims congressional leaders on both sides have ‘culpability’

  • Sen. Ron Johnson spoke to constituents and told them things he said he wouldn’t say publicly
  • He said he believes the FBI had advanced knowledge of the Jan. 6th riot but failed to act 
  • He doubted that the FBI could have infiltrated right-wing Michigan militias ‘but they don’t know squat about what was happening on January 6th’ 
  • He has touted numerous conspiracy theories in the past 
  • Also called the Jan. 6th select committee a ‘total sham’ 

Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson told a group of constituents he believes the FBI had advanced knowledge of the Jan. 6th riot but failed to act – even as he ripped a select committee probing the events as a ‘total sham.’

During his remarks, he repeatedly downplayed the actions of the mob that took part in the Capitol riot, saying there were ‘a couple hundred really bad actors’ among thousands he defended.  

‘By and large those folks were peaceful protesters,’ said Johnson, days after four police officers testified about battling crowd members outside the Capitol. He said most ‘wouldn’t even consider breaking the law.’

Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson said after an event in Milwaukee that he didn’t believe the FBI somehow ‘didn’t know squat’ about January 6th despite infiltrating militia groups – and also faulted congressional leaders while downplaying the role of protesters

In remarks captured after the completion of an event he held in Milwaukee, Johnson spoke to a small group of attendees. He went after the FBI for its role.

‘I don’t say this publicly, but are you watching what’s happening in Michigan?” Johnson said. ‘So you think the FBI had fully infiltrated the militias in Michigan, but they don’t know squat about what was happening on January 6th or what was happening with these groups? I’d say there is way more to the story,’ he said, according to video published by the Washington Post

There is no evidence that the FBI collected information out of Michigan about the riot and then sat on it. 

FBI Director Chris Wray has testified about information collected by an FBI field office in Roanoke that was passed to officials in Washington warning about online threats of violence. It was provided Jan. 5th, the day before the riot. 

Republican Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson made the remarks after an event in his home state. He also said he wouldn't encourage people to get vaccinated

Republican Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson made the remarks after an event in his home state. He also said he wouldn’t encourage people to get vaccinated

'By and large those folks were peaceful protesters,' said Johnson, who condemned people who engaged in violence

‘By and large those folks were peaceful protesters,’ said Johnson, who condemned people who engaged in violence

FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress an FBI field office in Virginia picked up online chatter about Jan. 6th that it sent to Washington the day before the riot

FBI Director Chris Wray told Congress an FBI field office in Virginia picked up online chatter about Jan. 6th that it sent to Washington the day before the riot

Johnson repeatedly went after the House select committee probing the Capitol riot, and mentioned GOP Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, both put on the panel by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He called it a ‘sham.’

He accused Cheney and Kinzinger of trying to paint protesters with the same ‘broad brush’ as ‘domestic terrorists.’ He said he condemned people who committed acts of violence ‘immediately.’ 

‘Are they going to talk about the culpability of congressional leadership, both sides?” Johnson said. “No. . . . They won’t even bring it up.’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell were at the top of congressional leadership at the time, although the U.S. Capitol Police are overseen by a Capitol Police Board.  

According to the Post, the video was provided by Republican Hospice worker Bridget Kurt, a Wisconsin native who was staying at the hotel where Johnson’s event took place. She said she wanted Johnson to encourage people to get vaccines, but he refused. 

‘I’m not going to do that. I don’t encourage or discourage,’ Johnson told her. 

Four days before the riot, Johnson was among a group of senators who said they would object to votes in ‘disputed states’ amid Donald Trump’s election overturn effort.

But after the riot occurred, he opted to vote and count electoral votes certified by states. He said in a statement Jan. 7th: ‘What follows is the speech I was going to deliver on the Senate floor explaining my concerns about the election in Arizona. Unfortunately, lawless protesters entered the Capitol and by consensus we decided to expedite the proceedings.’

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