MILWAUKEE - Nearly 50 days after the U.S. Capitol siege, senators went behind closed doors to learn about Capitol security on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Now, Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson faces criticism after reading parts of what is called an eyewitness account of the Jan. 6 events, published by the conservative online platform The Federalist -- reiterating a disproved theory that the Capitol attack was not planned by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.
"I’d really recommend that everyone on the committee read this account," Sen. Johnson said.
The Federalist article refers to the many Trump supporters who rallied outside the Capitol as peaceful, but Sen. Johnson said: "Some obviously didn’t fit in, and he describes four different types of people: plain-clothes militants, agent provocateurs, fake Trump protesters, and then disciplined uniformed columns of attackers. I think these are the people who probably planned this."
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin)
Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin didn't name names, but tweeted:
"On Jan. 6th, (then President Donald) Trump incited a violent insurrection against the will of the people, Congress, and our Democracy in an attempt to steal the election based on the big lie it was stolen from him. Every member of Congress should tell this truth instead of pushing conspiracy theories.
Illinois Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger wrote of Sen. Johnson in a tweet:
"It's disgraceful for a sitting Senator to spread disinformation so blatantly. It's a disservice to the people he serves to continue lying to them like this. It's dangerous and it must stop."
Trump supporters stand on the U.S. Capitol Police armored vehicle as others take over the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, as the Congress works to certify the electoral college votes. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty
Earlier in February, on AM 1130 radio, Sen. Johnson blamed "groups of agitators." On the day of the siege, Sen. Johnson told FOX6 News he wasn't sure if the attacker were Trump supporters.
"I really don't know. All I know is that the vast majority of Trump supporters truly love this country, completely respect law enforcement," Sen. Johnson said. "Of course, part of the process of respecting law enforcement is you do what they tell you to do. You don't break the law. You don't violate the rules. So, if these are truly Trump supporters, they are a way fringe part of the movement."
The senator's questioning of the former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund on Tuesday repeated that theme, asking if the Capitol breach was predictable.
"No. I don’t nor do, if you look at some of our other partner agencies," Sund said.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (photo by Brent Stirton/Getty Images)
Sen. Johnson went on to question Sund, asking if that was because the "vast majority of Trump supporters are pro-law enforcement."
"Information I’ve received from some of my officers, they were trying to prevent people from coming into the building and people were showing up and saying, 'Hey, we’re police, let us through,' and still wanting to violate the law to get inside the building," said Sund.
A recent USA Today poll found 58% of Trump voters said the attack was "mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters." However, arrest and court documents don't back that up. The Washington Post reported on an FBI memo alleged there was chatter of "go there ready for war...we get our president or we die."
Two Wisconsinites are charged with illegally entering the Capitol.