Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R) says he didn’t feel threatened when the Capitol was stormed due to the political beliefs of the Trump-supporting rioters, while adding that that may not have been the case had said rioters been associated with either Black Lives Matter or Antifa.
Johnson’s comments came on Thursday during a syndicated-radio program called The Joe Pags Show.
During the appearance, Johnson followed-up on past remarks he made in which he said he didn’t believe the January 6 event was an armed insurrection. He also stood by his actions at a February hearing over the riot in which he read an account/conspiracy theory that claimed the violence from that day actually came from “agents-provocateurs” rather than Trump supporters.
According to Mediaite, criticism towards Johnson for previously stating that he didn’t feel threatened during the event was brought up during the appearance. That’s when he made the comments that are currently catching flak.
“Because I didn’t [feel threatened]. Mainly because I knew, even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break a law, and so I wasn’t concerned,” he said. “Now, had the tables been turned — and Joe, this could get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and President Trump won the election, and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”
The riot led to the deaths of five people, the injuries of 140 others, including police officers, and the arrests of 300 and counting. In follow-up comments to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Johnson said he made the original comments due to the violence and property damage that occurred following George Floyd’s death last spring. In a statement, he referenced those events while saying “[t]hat’s why I would have been more concerned.”
As he forecasted in the same comments he made on the show, his words drew a rebuke from Democrats in his state.
“For him to say something as racist as that — it’s ridiculous,” said state senator LaTonya Johnson (no relation) to the Associated Press. “It’s a totally racist comment and the insult to injury is he didn’t mind saying it in the position that he holds because for some reason that’s just deemed as acceptable behavior for people who live in and are elected officials in this state.”