- A reporter spotted Sen. Ron Johnson pretending to be on his phone to dodge questions.
- A group was trying to question Johnson after a Jan. 6 committee hearing.
- The hearing included texts sent by a Johnson aide seemingly seeking to overturn the 2020 election.
A reporter called out Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin for pretending to be on his cellphone in an apparent ploy to dodge questions after a Jan. 6 committee hearing Tuesday.
Johnson was walking away from the Capitol building when reporters tried to ask him questions about evidence the committee presented.
The evidence included text messages sent on January 6, 2021, by his chief of staff, Sean Riley, to an aide to then-Vice President Mike Pence, after the riot at the Capitol disrupted the process of certifying Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election.
In the messages, Riley told the Pence aide, Chris Hodgson, that he wanted to present Pence with a list of fake electors who were prepared to ignore Biden’s win and instead vote for Trump. Hodgson dismissed the request.
In the exchange with reporters, including Frank Thorp of NBC News, Johnson claimed he was busy with a call so couldn’t take questions about his knowledge of the events.
“How much did you know about what your chief-of-staff was doing with the alternate slates of the electors?” asked Thorp.
“I’m on the phone right now,” replied Johnson.
“No you’re not. I can see your phone. I can see your screen,” said Thorp.
Johnson then put his phone down and addressed their questions, dismissing the evidence as a “non-story.”
Johnson claimed he wasn’t aware of the messages sent by his aide, calling it a “staff-to-staff exchange.”
“I was basically, you know, unaware of it,” he said.
The January 6 committee has focused in its public hearings on the figures behind the elaborate and at times chaotic fake-elector scheme.
The plan involved replacing the slate of electors sent by states to reflect the voting there with people who had agreed to ignore the legitimate results and instead vote for Trump in the Electoral College.
A key figure in the scheme was John Eastman, a Republican attorney, who falsely claimed that Pence had the authority to reject the election results on January 6, opening the way for the fake-elector ploy.
Pence disagreed, and after the disruption of the riot the certification continued.
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