After former President Donald Trump spent months lying to his supporters that the 2020 election was "stolen" from him by Democrats coordinating widespread election fraud, a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the United States Capitol to upend the joint session nationally certifying then-President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
At least five people died as a result of the riots, with dozens more injured and untold amounts of property damage. The failed insurrection resulted in Trump's second impeachment, for which he was acquitted by the Senate earlier this month.
Though the Senate has concluded the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, there's much work to be done in evaluating the events of that calamitous day.
Part of that work got underway on Tuesday, when the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a joint hearing, where security officials testified on the failures that led to the Capitol riots.
Days after claiming the armed insurrection "didn't seem like an armed insurrection" to him, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) further amplified the conspiracy theory that the riots were secretly carried out by critics of Trump, rather than his supporters, in order to hurt his public perception.
Ron Johnson is using his questioning time during the Capitol security hearing to promote a conspiracy theory that t… https://t.co/5sBRhmG7yW— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1614099162.0
Johnson read excerpts from a delusional column by J. Michael Waller of the Federalist, which said:
"Many of the marchers were families with small children. Many were elderly, overweight, or just plain tired or frail—traits not typically attributed to the riot prone ... Although the crowd represented a broad cross-section of Americans, mostly working-class by their appearance and manner of speech, some people stood out. A very few didn't share the jovial, friendly, earnest demeanor of the great majority. Some obviously didn't fit in."
Waller goes on to claim that so-called evidence indicated an organized operation by "fake Trump protesters."
The Federal Bureau of Investigations has arrested hundreds of the Capitol rioters, virtually all of whom have been on the record for some time in their support of Trump. What's more, many of the rioters live streamed their own felonies, believing then-President Trump had invited them there.
Lies like Waller's have been largely dismissed as a desperate attempt by Trump supporters to absolve themselves of the carnage their disinformation about the 2020 election caused.
Nevertheless, Johnson amplified these very lies to the faces of the officers whose lives were endangered by them.
This is what happens when insurrectionists are investigating the insurrection. https://t.co/Bv63hnCmNP— Bill Maxwell 😷 (@Bill Maxwell 😷) 1614099750.0
so a mob of fakers spent years carefully cultivating on and offline personas as Trump supporters and then violently… https://t.co/CCyfogttR4— shauna (@shauna) 1614102378.0
I was there. This is a LIE. @RonJohnsonWI . It is a seditious lie. . . and You know it. https://t.co/Et4KlnjjKu— Brian J. Karem (@Brian J. Karem) 1614102255.0
When you absolutely, positively, must prove your beloved leader didn't cause the #CapitolInsurrection you throw the… https://t.co/g39MztefPT— Susie Who Wears A Mask (@Susie Who Wears A Mask) 1614101415.0
It is absolutely incredible to see a senator *who was there* on January 6, who watched video during the impeachment… https://t.co/QdLNNuP2pK— Grace Segers (@Grace Segers) 1614099981.0
Disinformation doesn’t belong on social media, and it doesn’t belong in a Congressional hearing. Do better… https://t.co/p4Or9PPA9E— Jan Schakowsky (@Jan Schakowsky) 1614102353.0
Johnson's critics called for him to face consequences, be they from his colleagues or his constituents.
Ron Johnson is up for re-election in 2022 in a state that just elected a Democratic Governor, a Democratic Lt. Gove… https://t.co/rCr7RPdS8D— Brian Tyler Cohen (@Brian Tyler Cohen) 1614100026.0
Shouldn't Sen. Ron Johnson be censured for using a senate hearing to promote conspiracy theory? What is the US Sena… https://t.co/GSLQJ2VHIz— Veritas (@Veritas) 1614107864.0
To be clear, @SenRonJohnson is lying at a hearing. @SenSchumer you need to bring ethics charges against #RussianRon… https://t.co/6jxskpRXOc— Arthur (@Arthur) 1614107763.0
Johnson is up for reelection next year.