No, Sen. Ron Johnson Didn’t Promote A ‘Conspiracy Theory’ About The Capitol Riot

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Originally published by The Federalist

Sen. Ron Johnson was one of the first senators to suspect the riot had been planned. In a Federalist article, I identified four groups that appeared to have planned for violence in advance.

“Facts are stubborn things,” John Adams famously said as the lawyer defending the British soldiers involved in the 1770 Boston Massacre, “and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”

More than 250 years later, The Federalist provided an eyewitness account of events outside the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. From the Washington Post to Whoopi Goldberg, members of the chattering class tried to alter the state of facts and evidence they didn’t like.

As the Post headlined the day before the Feb. 23 hearing, “at stake” was “the story of the Capitol riot, and who is responsible.” The hearing, the Post reported, could devolve into “a battleground for competing narratives over what prompted the riot and who was responsible for it.”

Federal Prosecutors Confirm the Violence Was Planned

The prevailing narrative was that the violence was the spontaneous action of hordes of Donald Trump supporters incited into insurrection by the then-president’s rambling speech. That narrative collapsed weeks later.

Federal prosecutors issued indictments alleging that the Capitol raid was, indeed, a conspiracy planned in advance. FBI investigators agreed. Prosecutors say that elements of the criminal conspiracy began as early as November 3, 2020.

At the Senate hearing, current and former top U.S. Capitol security officials gave similar assessments, saying that “wide-ranging intelligence failures” prevented detection of what became a “military-style, coordinated assault.” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who co-chaired the hearing, concluded, “This was a planned insurrection.”

The Federalist article said that from the beginning, on Jan. 14. I was the eyewitness who wrote it.

Johnson Enters the Article into the Senate Record

Sen. Ron Johnson read extensively from the article, summarizing it in parts, during the hearing. The Wisconsin Republican asked that the full text be entered into the official record. The Federalist article was accepted without objection from senators of either party. The eyewitness account was now officially evidence for the Senate investigation.

Johnson was one of the first senators to suspect that the riot had been planned. In The Federalist article, I identified four groups that appeared to have planned for violence well in advance.

Video of the hearing shows Johnson saying, “He [Waller] describes four different types of people: plainclothes militants, agents provocateurs, fake Trump protesters, and then disciplined, uniformed column of attackers. I think that these are the people that probably planned this.”

Johnson accurately related what I wrote in The Federalist article. That was a faithful summary of my exact description of the four organized groups of operatives I witnessed before the violence began in the Capitol:

  1. Plainclothes militants. Militant, aggressive men in Donald Trump and MAGA gear at a front police line at the base of the temporary presidential inaugural platform;
  2. Agents-provocateurs. Scattered groups of men exhorting the marchers to gather closely and tightly toward the center of the outside of the Capitol building and prevent them from leaving;
  3. Fake Trump protesters. A few young men wearing Trump or MAGA hats backwards and who did not fit in with the rest of the crowd in terms of their actions and demeanor, whom I presumed to be Antifa or other leftist agitators; and
  4. Disciplined, uniformed column of attackers. A column of organized, disciplined men, wearing similar but not identical camouflage uniforms and black gear, some with helmets and GoPro cameras or wearing subdued Punisher skull patches.

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