WASHINGTON — Ron Johnson, a staunch ally of Donald Trump and the most vulnerable Senate Republican, attempted to intervene on the former president’s behalf just moments before Congress met to certify the election results on Jan. 6, 2021, the House panel investigating the attack on the Capitol that day revealed Tuesday.
Sean Riley, who is now Johnson’s chief of staff, told an aide to Vice President Mike Pence that the Wisconsin senator wanted to deliver a list of fake electors for Wisconsin and Michigan to Pence.
“Johnson needs to hand something to VPOTUS please advise,” Riley texted Pence aide Chris Hodgson at 12:37 p.m. that day, minutes before Pence gaveled in the joint session to certify Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, which ultimately was interrupted by a mob of Trump supporters.
“What is it?” Hodgson responded.
“Alternate slate of electors for MI and WI because archivist didn’t receive them,” Riley answered. Hodgson replied, “Do not give that to him.”
Johnson later told a CNN reporter that his office received a package with an alternate slate of electors on the morning of Jan. 6, and he didn’t know who sent it. He insisted in an audio recording that was shared on Twitter that he “was basically unaware” his aide contacted a Pence staffer about it, and dismissed the matter as a “non-story.”
“I had no knowledge of this,” Johnson said. “I had no involvement in an alternative slate of electors. I had no idea this would even be delivered to us.”
The allegations come amid a Senate race that could determine control of the chamber, which is now split 50-50 between the two parties. Johnson, who is seeking a third term in the Senate, is the only GOP senator in a race considered so close it’s rated a “toss-up” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
Democrats running to challenge Johnson jumped on the new information.
“Ron Johnson is a danger to democracy,” tweeted Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, who is leading in a recent poll of Democratic primary challengers in the Senate race. Barnes called on Johnson to resign.
Another Democratic contender, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, tweeted that Johnson “is a seditious traitor and a danger to democracy.”
Story by Laura Litvan and Billy House.