- GOP Sen. Ron Johnson tried to hand Mike Pence slates of alternate electors from Michigan and Wisconsin on January 6.
- That’s according to a string of text messages revealed by the January 6 committee on Tuesday.
- “Do not give that to him,” said Pence legislative director Chris Hodgson in a text to Johnson’s chief of staff.
According to a series of text messages first displayed by the January 6 committee on Tuesday, Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin sought to deliver a slate of “alternate” electors to then-Vice President Mike Pence ahead of the counting of votes during a Joint Session of Congress.
Those “alternate” electors were from two contested Midwestern states that Democratic nominee Joe Biden had narrowly carried: Michigan and Wisconsin.
“Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise,” wrote Sean Riley, Johnson’s chief of staff, at 12:32pm on January 6, 2021.
“What is it?” replied Chris Hodgson, a legislative aide to Pence.
“Alternate slate of elector for MI and WI because archivist didn’t receive them,” Riley replied.
“Do not give that to him,” Hodgson replied.
“The vice president’s aide unambiguously instructed them not to deliver the fake votes to the Vice President,” said Casey Lucier, an investigative counsel for the January 6 committee, in a pre-taped video aired Tuesday. “Even though the fake elector slates were transmitted to Congress and the executive branch, the vice president held firm in his position that his role was to count lawfully submitted electoral votes.”
Pence and his aides viewed the vice president’s role in the election certification process as the ceremonial responsibility to count all certified state votes unless any of them were blocked by Congress, and thus did not have authority to introduce electoral states not certified by a state — as Trump and his conservative adviser John Eastman pressed him to do.
While Johnson was originally among dozens of Republican senators who planned to object to the 2020 election results on January 6, he and several others later decided not to go forward with it.
“Obviously in light of events, there’s a little bit of a different attitude,” he said at the time, according to CBS.
Reached for comment, Johnson directed Insider to a tweet from Alexa Henning, Johnson’s deputy chief of staff.
“The senator had no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office. This was a staff to staff exchange,” she wrote. “His new Chief of Staff contacted the Vice President’s office. The Vice President’s office said not to give it to him and we did not. There was no further action taken. End of story.”
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