Ron Johnson reiterates that Jan. 6 was not an “armed riot,” adding that “protesters taught us” to use flags as weapons



CNN

Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin reiterated his claim on Tuesday that the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 was not an “armed riot”, and yet the protesters “taught us flags, how you can use things like that”. , as a weapon.”

“There were not thousands of armed rebels. I asked the FBI agent a question about this in a hearing, I said, ‘How many firearms were confiscated in or on the Capitol?’ I didn’t know the answer. As far as I know there would be a thousand. No, zero. Zero,” Johnson said at the Milwaukee Rotary Club in Wisconsin, a the video An NBC reporter posted online at the event.

Johnson added, “The protesters taught us how you can use flagpoles, things like that, as weapons. But to call what happened on January 6th an ‘armed rebellion,’ I think, is not accurate,” he added.

In a statement to CNN on Tuesday, Johnson campaign spokeswoman Alexa Henning said the senator was comparing the methods used by racial justice protesters in the summer of 2020 to the January 6 riots.

“The senator was talking about the actions of the insurgents in the summer of 2020, and his entire quote shows that,” Henning said. “He admits that the rioters on the left know how to use flags and other metal objects and water bottles as weapons. But there is a difference between that and armed rebellion. In the summer of 2020, leftists used bricks, water bottles, flags, fireworks, Molotov cocktails, all but one weapon, as weapons to destroy cities, but the media did not consider them “violent” or “armed”. When the protesters used the flag pole on January 6th, suddenly the type of objects they had been using all summer became part of an “armed” rebellion. It does not support this action in any way. He is commenting on the hypocrisy of the situation.’

Henning also provided a full transcript of Johnson’s remarks and a link to Twitter videos of protesters using the flags during anti-racist protests in 2020. According to a transcript provided by the campaign, Johnson said, “This summer’s protesters taught us all how he can use flags, things like that as weapons.”

Johnson has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the January 6 riots in the Capitol.

In the months after the riot, Johnson disputed reports of the incident, telling a conservative radio host last year: “These were people who love this country, who really respect law enforcement, they would never do anything to break the law.” he later told Fox News: “The reality of the matter is even calling it a riot, it wasn’t.”

In an interview Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Mandela Barnes, his Democratic opponent in the November Senate race, criticized Johnson for his comments about Jan. 6.

“I’m not going to be lectured on crime by someone who supported a violent riot that injured 140 officers (one was stabbed with a metal spike and another was run over by a revolving door), it’s so hypocritical for Ron Johnson to publicize the crime,” Barnes told him. to MSNBC.

U.S. Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell, in testimony before the House Select Committee on January 6, in late July, said the rioters used anti-Capitol Police flags as weapons.

“Including a baseball bat, a hockey stick, a stick, a flag, an American flag, pepper spray, bear spray. So you name it. You had all these items and things that were thrown at us and used to attack us. Those are weapons,” he said.

The committee video also featured the rioters flying the Capitol Police flag.