Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThree years later, father of Parkland shooting victim calls for meaningful school safety reform Senate GOP ready to turn page on Trump Johnson confronts Romney after vote on witnesses MORE (R-Wis.) in a new interview said he didn’t think the Jan. 6 Capitol riot seemed like “an armed insurrection” and praised former President TrumpDonald TrumpSix people who guarded Roger Stone entered Capitol during attack: NYT Cassidy pens column explaining vote to convict Trump Puerto Rico governor: Congress ‘morally obligated’ to act on statehood vote MORE’s Senate impeachment trial attorneys following his acquittal.
Johnson made the comments to 1130 WISN radio talk show host Jay Weber on Monday following his vote Saturday to acquit Trump. The comments he made in the episode were first reported by the Wisconsin State Journal.
“This will get me in trouble, but I don’t care,” Johnson said. He argued that “groups of agitators” are to blame for the Capitol riot and not “tens of thousands of Trump supporters.”
“The group of people that supported Trump, the hundreds of thousands of people who attended those Trump rallies, those are the people that love this country,” Johnson told Weber. “They never would have done what happened on Jan. 6. That is a group of people that love freedom; that’s a group of people we need to unify and keep on our side.”
Johnson, who has not said whether he’ll run for reelection in 2022, condemned the violence in the interview but said it “didn’t seem like an armed insurrection to me.”
He accused House impeachment managers of editing the videos they presented as evidence in the Senate impeachment trial.
The videos, many of which had not been publicly released before the trial, provided harrowing new details of the attack last month, including highlighting close calls between lawmakers and the mob. In one security camera video, Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyDemocratic senator defends decision not to call witnesses: ‘They weren’t going to get more Republican votes’ Cassidy: It was clear that Trump ‘wished that lawmakers be intimidated’ North Carolina GOP condemns Burr for impeachment vote against Trump MORE (R-Utah) just misses the mob as Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman runs into him and instructs him to run in the opposite direction.
Johnson said in the interview that the videos were “highly selectively edited” and that the trial lacked due process. He also questioned whether the group was truly an “armed” insurrection.
“When you hear the word ‘armed,’ don’t you think of firearms? Here’s the questions I would have liked to ask — how many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired? I’m only aware of one, and I’ll defend that law enforcement officer for taking that shot, it was a tragedy, but I think there was only one,” Johnson said. “If that was a planned armed insurrection, man, you had really a bunch of idiots.”
Johnson, a staunch Trump ally, has argued the defense “eviscerated” the Democratic prosecutors and “blew their case out of the water.” After voting to acquit Trump, Johnson clashed with Romney on the Senate floor over his vote to convict.
Johnson appeared angry with reporters on Saturday who later asked him about his exchange with Romney.
“Those are private. Those are private conversations,” Johnson said.