GOP's Ron Johnson delivers a jumbled response after being asked about his Capitol riot conspiracy

GOP's Ron Johnson delivers a jumbled response after being asked about his Capitol riot conspiracy
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C., Gage Skidmore

In an interview with The New York Times released on Monday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) was questioned about sharing a conspiracy theory during a Senate hearing that the Capitol insurrection was driven by "provocateurs" infiltrating the otherwise "festive" group of pro-Trump protesters — a claim originally pushed by Michael Waller for the far-right website The Federalist.

"I wonder why you think there is merit to giving an audience to Mr. Waller's assertions that there were either provocateurs or fake Trump supporters in the crowd, given the lack of evidence," said Reid Epstein.

"I'm not questioning his veracity. I believe he's probably telling the truth. That's what he saw," said Johnson. "I'm not agreeing with any conclusions. I'm not sure he's really making too many conclusions, other than he concluded he saw four individual types of groups that stood out from the crowd. It might be a flawed part of the evidence, but why exclude it? Just because it doesn't necessarily tie into whatever narrative somebody else wants to tell about the day? I'm not interested in the narratives, I'm interested in the truth."

There is zero evidence to support the claim that anti-Trump provocateurs were the source of the violence at the Capitol.

Johnson also defended his claim that the gathering "didn't seem like an armed insurrection" — a statement PolitiFact rated "Pants on Fire" — by arguing that none of the rioters fired their weapons. This does not change the fact that the protesters had guns and improvised explosive devices, and that a number of them were arrested on gun charges and had their weapons confiscated.

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