Ron Johnson acknowledges texting with Trump attorney on Jan 6




  • In Politics
  • 2022-10-04 18:40:48Z
  • By NBC News
 

MILWAUKEE - Sen. Ron Johnson on Tuesday acknowledged he exchanged text messages with one of Donald Trump's attorneys before and after Johnson's staff attempted to deliver a package to then-Vice President Mike Pence on Jan. 6.

He added that the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack "smeared" him because it didn't publicize all the text messages between his and Pence's aides.

Johnson, in response to questions from NBC News, said "the entire episode lasted about an hour," in reference to his ties to a fake electors scheme he said he knew nothing about. He also said he didn't know the contents of the package he said the attorney wanted to be delivered.

"You can't even call it participation, I wrote a couple texts," Johnson said.

Johnson has previously distanced himself from the scheme telling a local TV station in August: "My involvement in that attempt to deliver spanned the course of a couple seconds."

Johnson made the comments following a talk before the Rotary Club of Milwaukee where Johnson was asked several questions about the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Johnson is locked in a tight reelection fight with the state's Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes.

Johnson defended previous remarks he made about that attack being mostly peaceful, saying that he said the same of Black Lives Matters protests in 2020. Johnson said in each case, he condemned violence if they grew out of those protests.

"To call what happened on Jan. 6 an 'armed insurrection,' I just think it's inaccurate," he said. "I'm sorry, that's not what an armed insurrection would look like."

Johnson argued few weapons were confiscated but protesters "did teach us how you can use a flag pole"

On the electors scheme, Johnson said he communicated with Jim Troupis, a Wisconsin-based attorney who led legal efforts for Donald Trump in a recount of the state's 2020 results.

"What would you do if you got a text from the attorney for the president of the United States?" Johnson said. "You respond to it."

"I got a text from the president's lawyer asking if we could deliver something to the vice president and if I could have a staff member handle it," Johnson said. When asked if the senator knew what it was he was asked to deliver, he said, "no, I had no idea."

"I turned it over to him," Johnson said of his then-new chief of staff. "Next thing I know he's letting me know the vice president's not accepting anything so I just texted back 'no, we're not delivering it,' end of story. Nothing happened. I had no idea there were even an alternate slate of electors."

Johnson said the Jan. 6 committee didn't publicize all of the texts between Pence and his aides which he said indicated that Pence was expecting the package through the mail.

According to texts Johnson has previously made public, the Pence aide also said the vice president shouldn't receive any mail that hadn't been screened. He also referenced comments to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by panel chair Bennie Thompson, who said Johnson's involvement wasn't a "priority."

The Jan. 6 committee had no comment Tuesday on Johnson's remarks.

The fake elector scheme was an attempt by Republicans in seven battleground states that Biden won in 2020 - Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin - to offer phony slates of 84 Republicans with the idea of asking Pence to accept those electors as legitimate rather than recognize that Biden had rightfully won those states.

NBC News recently reported that the electors, many of whom are under investigation, are playing an integral role in the upcoming midterm elections, in many cases making up the GOP hierarchy in critical battleground states.

Johnson said in each case, he condemned violence if they grew out of those protests.

"To call what happened on Jan. 6 an 'armed insurrection,' I just think it's inaccurate," he added. "I'm sorry, that's not what an armed insurrection would look like."

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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