“The ‘armed insurgents’ remained within the ropes of the rotunda,” Johnson added, making an air-referenced gesture with his fingers. “I’m sorry – that’s not what an armed uprising looks like. If an ‘armed uprising’ does happen, I don’t think they can reopen Congress and finish counting the electoral votes in about six hours. So again, I realize Until the word is used to incite the situation.”
Johnson did not mention that many thugs crossed the ropes, ransacked congressional offices, destroyed sculptures and artworks, and caused damages worth about $1.5 million. At the insistence of top lawmakers, Congress reconvened about six hours after the attack, although there was still shattered glass, broken furniture and what a House Governing Committee spokesman called “residues of corrosive gas agents.” Congressman. Andy Kim (DN.J.) says “rubbish and debris is everywhere.”
The attack on the Capitol also killed five people, including a police officer and a woman shot by police. Two other officers on duty that day later committed suicide.
Johnson’s comments on Tuesday were quickly condemned by multiple Democratic lawmakers and at least one member of the Biden administration.
“Ron Johnson continues to downplay the violence of January 6, covering up how rioters badly hurt police,” tweet Congressman. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.). “January 6 was a deadly attempt to overturn the election. To call it anything else would be a disservice to the brave men and women who protected our democracy that day.”
“Calling what happened on Jan. 6 ‘armed uprising,’ I just don’t think it’s accurate,” the senator. Ron Johnson said just now at the Rotary Club of Milwaukee.
Johnson argues that few weapons were confiscated but protesters ‘did teach us how to use flagpoles’ pic.twitter.com/28E3W7G3eg
— Natasha Korecki (@natashakorecki) October 4, 2022
“This is an armed uprising,” tweet Former Republican congressman Joe Walsh left after leaving the GOP. “@RonJohnsonWI was wrong. In November, the people of Wisconsin should have told him he was wrong.”
Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D), who is running for Senate against Johnson, tweeted that his opponent is “still preparing for the January election. 6 insurgents.”
“It’s not who we are or what we stand for in Wisconsin,” Barnes tweet. “Time to vote for him.”
Johnson also said Tuesday that “protesters have really taught us all how to use things like flagpoles as weapons.” In Jan’s video. During the June 6 attack, law enforcement officers outside the Capitol were harassed, beaten and gassed by rioters. One Capitol Police officer who responded that day, Caroline Edwards, said she was hit in the head by a bike rack. She later described the scene as a “massacre”, recalling how the police fell to the ground, bled and vomited. In a video of the attack, a mob can be seen beating a fallen police officer with an American flag pole.
“You mean the Jan. 6 attackers ‘did teach us how to use a flagpole’ to brutally beat a police officer, @SenRonJohnson?” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates tweet Responding to Johnson’s remarks on Tuesday.
In a statement, Johnson’s office claimed that the senator was referring to “summer protesters” rather than “some protesters,” referring to those protesting the killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.
“This video is taken completely and deceptively out of context to advance the political narrative,” Johnson spokeswoman Alexa Henning said in an email. “He admits that left-wing thugs know how to use flagpoles and other metal objects and water bottles as weapons. But this is different from an armed uprising.”
Henning added that Johnson “will in no way condone this action”.
This isn’t the first time Johnson has downplayed the severity of January. 6 attacks. Last year, several Democrats called for Johnson to step down after he said on a conservative radio show that the Capitol thugs didn’t scare him — but if they were Black Lives Matter protesters, they might will step down. On Tuesday, Johnson reiterated some of his views.
“I did say I was never afraid of Jan. 6 because it was true,” Johnson said. “I was in the Senate. They closed the door. My assumption is that some lunatics got through security. … About five or ten minutes later, they opened the door and said back to your office. Then I went back to mine. The office, and then I saw violence.”
Johnson’s comments come as the trial begins this week of several members of the extremist Oathkeepers group, who allegedly traveled to Washington and staged guns near the Capitol before six attacks in January. Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and four co-defendants face incitement conspiracy and other charges; they plead not guilty to felony charges of conspiring to commit political violence weeks after the 2020 presidential election against the legal transfer of power to Joe Biden .
Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman, and Rachel Weiner contributed to this report.