Sen. Johnson and his challengers react to news on the fake elector votes
WASHINGTON (WBAY) - Wisconsin’s connection to the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol took center stage on Tuesday during testimony concerning a message exchange between two staffers working for U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Vice President Mike Pence.
“A staffer for Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson texted a staffer for Vice President Pence just minutes before the beginning of the joint session. This staffer stated that Senator Johnson wished to hand-deliver to the vice president the fake electors votes from Michigan and Wisconsin. The vice president aide unambiguously instructed them not to deliver the fake votes to the vice president,” Casey Lucier, investigative counsel for the House Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol, said.
Under Wisconsin law, the candidate who wins the popular vote also wins the state’s 10 electoral votes. In Michigan it’s the same, with Biden getting 16 electoral votes.
“Even though the fake elector slates were transmitted to Congress and the executive branch, the vice president held firm his position that his role was to count lawfully submitted electoral votes,” Lucier said.
Just after the hearing, reporters caught up with Johnson outside the Capitol and asked if he ever contacted the vice president personally about electors.
“I wasn’t involved. I don’t know what they said, but somebody from the House delivered it to a staff member in my office. My chief of staff called the vice president, ‘Hey, we got this.’ The vice president said don’t deliver it, we didn’t.”
A spokeswoman for Johnson, Alexa Henning, tweeted “there was no further action taken. End of story.”
And Johnson told CBS News via text, “This is a complete NON story.”
However, Democrats aren’t buying it -- especially those running to replace Johnson, who’s up for re-election to the Senate in November.
“I have called on Ron Johnson to resign. I’ve called for him to be subpoenaed by the January 6th Commission, and now it’s clear that we need to go beyond that. There needs to be an investigation by the Department of Justice,” U.S. Senate candidate Tom Nelson said.
“I want people at home to think about that, think about how serious of an infraction this is, how serious of an occurrence this is. What he tried to do was de-stabilize this country,” Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, another Democratic Senate candidate, said.
“Ron Johnson is a seditious traitor and a danger to our democracy. Trump and his MAGA allies planned, promoted, and paid for a radical plot to overturn an election they lost, and Ron Johnson attempted to deliver it for President Trump on a silver platter.
“The idea that a single American can attempt to overthrow the outcome of a fair and free election is perhaps the most egregious idea imaginable to the foundation of our Democracy.
“Ron Johnson and anyone else who played a part in this traitorous act should be held accountable to the fullest extent possible. If we continue to allow him to answer to no one, the attacks on our democracy and our communities will continue to grow.
“The only way we get rid of Ron Johnson is by voting him out of office, which is exactly what I intend to do this November.”
It’s unclear how this will impact the Senate race and play out with voters between now and November.
The Associated Press has reported Republicans in seven states which Biden won submitted a total of 79 fake Electoral College votes. In five states, including Wisconsin and Michigan, Republicans certified they were their state’s duly elected and qualified electors.
Biden won the presidency with 306 Electoral College votes. Trump had 232. If Vice President Pence had accepted the fake elector slates, it would have overturned the Electoral College results -- giving Trump 311 electors to Biden’s 227.
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