GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, suggested over the weekend that the FBI had infiltrated a Michigan militia group and was involved in the planning of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, giving credence to conspiracy theories propagated through far-right corners of the internet and been floated by conservative pundits on Fox News and other right-wing outlets.
Johnson, one of former President Trump’s most vocal supporters in Congress, reportedly made the comments in a private conversation outside an event at a hotel in his home state of Wisconsin on Saturday, according to The Washington Post.
“I don’t say this publicly, but are you watching what’s happening in Michigan? … So you think the FBI had fully infiltrated the militias in Michigan, but they don’t know squat about what was happening on January 6th or what was happening with these groups? I’d say there is way more to the story,” Johnson said, according to The Post.
The Wisconsin Republican was referring to a plot by a militia group to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The militant group had planned to take Whitmer to a remote location to make her “stand trial” for crimes they believed she has committed against people in the state. The plan was intercepted by member of federal law enforcement who had been monitoring the group’s activities.
Johnson has repeatedly downplayed the Jan. 6 insurrection, drawing backlash earlier this year for saying he did not feel threatened during the attack but might have if it had been carried out by Black Lives Matter activists.
Johnson was rebuked by the largest newspaper in his state earlier this year, with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blasting him as “the most irresponsible representative of Wisconsin citizens since the infamous Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy in the 1950s.”