Tag: ron johnson
Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson Scoffs At 'Bribery' Attack On Biden As Mere 'Claims' (VIDEO)

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who has spent years promoting countless conspiracy theories on topics ranging from COVID-19 to climate change, apparently isn’t sold on House Republicans’ claim that when President Joe Biden was vice president, he took a $5 million bribe and there are taxes to prove it.

The claims, little more than a conspiracy theory based on a single FBI document used to record unverified statements made by third-parties, have been gobbled up and spewed across far-right media and social media by some of the most extreme Republicans in the House of Representatives, and even a few GOP Senators.

How far out there is Sen. Johnson?

“All told, when it comes to spewing dangerous drivel, Mr. Johnson has displayed a commitment and creativity rarely seen outside of QAnon gatherings or Trump family dinners,” The New York Times’ Michelle Cottle wrote in an opinion piece last year.

So it’s stunning that Sen. Johnson is now apparently walking back the unsubstantiated claims exploding on the right that President Biden took a $5 million bribe when he was President Barack Obama’s Vice President.

The latest twist of “evidence,” according to Republicans, is that there are now “tapes” allegedly proving the Biden bribe conspiracy theory.

But, in a Tuesday interview with a local Wisconsin right-wing talk radio show host, Johnson – whose outrageously wild claims in the past have crowned him the “Senate’s leading conspiracy theorist” a “bagman for Qanon,” and “Putin’s favorite Senator” – said the allegations he and other Republicans have been spreading now must be taken with a grain of salt.

“We don’t even know” if the tapes “exist,” Johnson said. “It’s a claim, it’s an allegation. We don’t know whether they really exist or not.”

Another GOP Senator who has been spreading the bribery conspiracy theory is Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the president pro tempore emeritus of the United States Senate who began serving in public elected office in 1959.

Grassley has been a consistent partner with House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Comer on the Biden bribery conspiracy theory, despite having no official Senate function or role that would allow him to pursue an investigation.

Comer, who has admitted his purpose as that powerful committee’s chief is to attack Biden and help Trump get elected, has repeatedly suggested or implied the FBI document, officially called an FD-1023, is proof (it is not).

“The FBI’s 6/30/20 FD-1023 record stands on its own and contains information from a trusted confidential human source who had conversations with the foreign national who claimed to have bribed Biden,” Comer’s Oversight Committee tweeted over the weekend.

Last month Comer’s Oversight Committee posted a nearly ten-minute video of a press conference with him making various wild allegations about Biden and the Biden family.

Newsweek on Tuesday notes that “The Washington Post reported last week that the allegations contained in the FD-1023 document being sought by Republican lawmakers were reviewed by the FBI under former Attorney General William Barr, only for the agency to conclude the allegations were found not to be supported by facts. The investigation was later dropped, a fact confirmed by several outlets.”

Stunningly, it’s not only Sen. Johnson, but Rep. Comer himself on Tuesday, under pressure by a Newsmax host pressing him to either say the tapes are legitimate or say when he will be able to confirm their legitimacy, confessed on live TV: “We don’t know if they’re legit or not.”

Also on Tuesday, even Sen,. Grassley himself stood on the floor of the U.S. Senate and poured cold water on his previous claims.

“The foreign national who allegedly bribed Joe and Hunter Biden, allegedly has audio recordings, of his conversation with them,” Grassley declared, relying on the word “allegedly” frequently.

“Seventeen such recordings,” he claimed. “These recordings were allegedly kept as a sort of insurance policy in case that he got into a tight spot.”

All this comes after Comer breathlessly claimed he had a star whistleblower witness who could prove his allegations, only to be forced to admit he had “lost” that witness, somehow.

Later it turned out that witnesses who did show up for Comer’s hearing had been paid by a former Trump administration official and current Trump advisor.

Since Comer has been very careful to not reveal who his sources are, some believe them to be among the four Russia-linked individuals the Trump administration’s own Treasury Dept. sanctioned in 2020 “for attempting to influence the U.S. electoral process,” as it announced in a press release.

NCRM has no knowledge of who Comer’s alleged sources are.

The Trump Treasury Department in 2020 reported, “From at least late 2019 through mid-2020, [Andrii] Derkach waged a covert influence campaign centered on cultivating false and unsubstantiated narratives concerning U.S. officials in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Election, spurring corruption investigations in both Ukraine and the United States designed to culminate prior to election day. Derkach’s unsubstantiated narratives were pushed in Western media through coverage of press conferences and other news events, including interviews and statements.”

Treasury’s statement adds:

“Between May and July 2020, Derkach released edited audio tapes and other unsupported information with the intent to discredit U.S. officials, and he levied unsubstantiated allegations against U.S. and international political figures. Derkach almost certainly targeted the U.S. voting populace, prominent U.S. persons, and members of the U.S. government, based on his reliance on U.S. platforms, English-language documents and videos, and pro-Russian lobbyists in the United States used to propagate his claims.”

And yet despite all this mountainous lack of substantive evidence or proof, some Republicans are speaking as if it were a proven, indisputable matter of tangible fact that Joe Biden should be impeached, or indicted.

Perhaps one of the loudest voices among the traitor claimers is Rep. Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, who just recently won a few pats on the back from liberal politics watchers after she mocked some in her own party.

That’s changed.

On Tuesday, Mace went on Fox News and in a lengthy interview with Maria Bartiromo, discussed the alleged bribery claims and concluded that the 37-criminal felony count indictment against Donald Trump is just a “distraction” from Biden’s actions and an attempt to jail his top political enemy.

“Make no mistake,” Mace falsely declared on Twitter the same day, “at today’s arraignment you are watching a sitting President use his DOJ to put his top political rival in jail.”

Another of the loudest voices insisting that the Biden conspiracy theory is true: U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee.

Even Wednesday, a day after the conspiracy theory leaders walked back and poured cold water on their allegations, Sen. Blackburn had no problem appearing on Fox News to promote the highly-questionable claims — this time couching it in terms of “feelings” and “ifs.”

The Intercept’s D.C. Bureau Chief Ryan Grim, in a lengthy explainer he published on Substack, concludes, “even if everything in the document is true, there is still an interpretation that would stop short of implicating Joe Biden: Hunter Biden could have been lying in order to extract more money from Burisma.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Abortion May Help Democrats To Oust Ron Johnson From Senate

Abortion May Help Democrats To Oust Ron Johnson From Senate

By James Oliphant

GREEN BAY, Wis. (Reuters) - Nicole Slavin was a reliable Democratic voter in a conservative region of Wisconsin, but she realized casting a ballot was no longer enough after the state's abortion access vanished almost overnight.

Slavin, a business development director, called upon her network of contacts to mobilize a group of women across party lines in support of U.S. Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, a Democrat who backs abortion rights. She knocked on doors for Barnes and organized an event for him last week that drew more than 100 women to a Green Bay brewery.

"There's no option of staying quiet and sitting down anymore," said Slavin, 48.

Evidence is building that a wave of women voters might make the difference if Democrats are to keep their Senate majority and stem their expected losses in the House of Representatives in the November 8 midterm elections.

Wisconsin is one of several states where voter registrations among women have surged since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. That decision gutted national protections for abortion and left an 1849 law outlawing most abortions in Wisconsin on the books, prompting the state's four abortion clinics to end the procedure.

Women have outpaced men in new registrations in Wisconsin by almost 10 percent, according to an analysis by the Democratic data firm TargetSmart. Women vote at a greater rate than men in presidential elections, but that gap usually narrows in midterms.

The battleground state is critical to Democrats' hopes of holding onto their slim majority in the Senate. If Barnes can defeat incumbent Republican Senator Ron Johnson, it would provide a cushion should the party lose a seat in a state such as Nevada or Georgia.

The Senate Majority PAC, an outside group that supports Democratic candidates, made Johnson the target of the first abortion-centered TV ad it aired after the Supreme Court's ruling. On Friday, the group launched a new abortion ad aimed at Johnson as part of a $1.6 million buy. The ad will run in Green Bay, among other markets.

Tom Bonier, chief executive officer of TargetSmart, theorizes many new registrants are young women who took abortion rights for granted.

"We are seeing these voters now pivoting to some level of action," Bonier said.

Adrianna Pokela, 23, said she cried after Roe's overturn. She will vote in her first midterm election this November and is trying to convince others of her generation to do the same.

In July, she helped plan a protest march in Green Bay that drew several hundred people.

"I am working my butt off to find ways to express the importance of this election," Pokela said.

Motivated Voters

Opinion surveys show the issue of abortion is rising in importance for Democratic voters in an election cycle dominated by concerns over inflation.

A Wall Street Journal poll released last week found support for legal abortion had grown nationwide since the court's decision and that more than half of voters surveyed said the issue had made them more motivated to vote in November.

After voters in Kansas last month defeated Republican efforts to ban abortion in that state, Democrats have zeroed in on women as the voters most likely to help prevent a Republican takeover of Congress.

The advocacy group Galvanize Action released nine digital ads about abortion rights in Wisconsin aimed at moderate white women, one of the state's largest voting blocs. The group has survey data that says those women, many of whom are not traditional Democratic voters, can be persuaded to vote for a candidate who supports abortion rights.

Jackie Payne, the group's executive director, said the ads' messages revolve around compassion for women and keeping government out of personal healthcare decisions.

"You have to connect to voters at their values," Payne said. "And then get them to turn out."

Another group, Democratic Messaging Project, has posted a billboard off a major highway in downtown Milwaukee that reads, "ABORTION GONE, IS BIRTH CONTROL NEXT?," one of 10 billboards the group will have in the state by week's end.

Nationally, Priorities USA Action, which targets swing voters in battleground states, said half the ads it's running in states such as Arizona and Pennsylvania mention abortion rights.

'Fired Up'

Barnes, Wisconsin's lieutenant governor, released a TV ad in which his mother spoke of having an abortion due to medical complications that put her health at risk.

"It's about personal freedom that has been taken away by the Supreme Court," Barnes said in an interview. "People are fired up."

His campaign believes Johnson, a two-term incumbent, is vulnerable on the issue.

Johnson has said he supports making abortion illegal, with exceptions for rape, incest, and to protect the mother's health. He has said he does not favor a federal abortion ban.

But Johnson's campaign rarely talks about abortion. Instead, it has tried to pin Barnes to the high crime rate in Milwaukee, branding him a supporter of liberal criminal justice policies.

Analysts say Johnson may be more in danger than in past years because of his support for former President Donald Trump's bogus election fraud claims, which could alienate moderate voters. Polls show a tight race.

Peggy Phillips, 66, who came out to see Barnes in Green Bay and described herself as an independent, said she was leaning toward backing the Democratic candidate. The main reason, she said, was abortion.

"I believe very strongly that it's an individual issue," Phillips said.

(Reporting by James Oliphant; editing by Colleen Jenkins and Daniel Wallis)

Ron Johnson Hits Trump

Ron Johnson Hits Trump For 'Failure' To Approve Quack COVID Treatment

Sen. Ron Johnson said in an interview on Thursday with the anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist host of a podcast that President Donald Trump's COVID-19 response team got in the way of what he considered the best approach to handling the coronavirus pandemic. But, the Wisconsin Republican said, he kept quiet about it at the time so as not to hurt Trump's reelection campaign.

Johnson made the comments in a nearly 90-minute interview with anti-vaccine figure Del Bigtree on his program "The Highwire" that was flagged by the political opposition research group American Bridge 21st Century.

Criticizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, the experienced expert on infectious diseases who clashed with Trump and others on the right, as well as Dr. Deborah Birx and others on Trump's COVID team, Johnson discussed hearings he led in 2020 as chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, during which he himself was criticized for inviting anti-vaccine activists to testify in favor of unproven and medically risky treatments for COVID such as the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been shown to be ineffective against the virus.

"I don't expect the general public to really listen to hearings. It's kind of the aftermath, and what news reports are written about it. Again, from my standpoint, we were making news, but I wasn't Fauci, I wasn't Birx — they had a different narrative here. And so I realized I wasn't making a whole lot of headway and this was kind of out of my control at this point in time. And you know, quite honestly, I wanted to make sure that President Trump got reelected and I didn't want to get too overly critical on his administration, to be quite honest," he said. "I had some real problems with what was happening inside the administration. I mean, again, he was not obviously aware of these things. But he couldn't get it done. His team wasn't serving him well."

The Trump administration's response to the pandemic failed to prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths due to COVID in the United States.

In the early days, Trump belittled the threat of the virus, falsely claiming that it was "under control" and would not spread in the United States and that it would quickly go away when the weather warmed up.

He admitted to journalist Bob Woodward that he intentionally misled the public, telling him, "I wanted to always play it down."

As the virus spread across the world and shut down the U.S. economy, Trump falsely said the seasonal flu was worse than COVID, pushed hydroxychloroquine as a "miracle cure," refused to wear a mask and mocked those who did, and hosted events that ended up as "superspreaders" of the virus while flouting his own safety guidelines.

Johnson, who has long pushed false claims about the supposed dangers of COVID-19 vaccines and touted dangerous and unproven treatments, had nothing to say about the actual failings of the Trump administration's response, instead arguing that the COVID team's failure to push hydroxychloroquine was because it would make have made it harder to get actual vaccines against the virus approved.

"I can't explain it. But it sure seems at some point in time, the cabal — I call them the COVID cartel — decided, no, it's going to be vaccine," Johnson said. "And, and of course, that's one of the explanations of why they'd want to tank and sabotage early treatment, which they did, was if you have an effective therapy, you're not going to get emergency use authorization on a totally novel therapy that's not a vaccine."

According to a November 2020 article in the scientific publication Microbes and Infection, Bigtree's program frequently presents similar “government and the media are lying to you" themes, like Johnson's, in its continued opposition to vaccination.

Johnson, who had previously promised not to serve more than two terms in the Senate, is facing an uphill race this November against Democratic Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes in his quest for a third six-year term. Polls show Johnson is widely unpopular, with the second-lowest approval ratings of any senator in the country after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Johnson frequently reminds supporters that he has been endorsed by Trump.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Johnson Admits He Wants A Federal Abortion Ban

Johnson Admits He Wants A Federal Abortion Ban

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) suggests that after states decide what sort of abortion restrictions to adopt, Congress should add national restrictions.

After a campaign appearance in Germantown, Wisconsin, theWashington County Daily News asked Johnson — who believes "life begins at the moment of conception" — about the recent election in Kansas, where voters decisively rejected a proposed constitutional amendment restricting abortion rights.

Rather than acknowledge the Kansas decision, however, Johnson discussed ways to further restrict abortion rights.

In a somewhat self-contradictory response, Johnson praised the July Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and said that states should make their own laws governing abortion — while hinting that Congress could eventually override them.

"Completely agree with the decision. It's been 50 years since the Supreme Court, nine justices, made this decision for all Americans, which of course didn't solve the problem, it exacerbated the divide. So, I look forward to every state, the people in every state, hopefully having a serious, compassionate, and sympathetic discussion to decide this question, and this is what needs to be decided. At what point does society have the responsibility to protect life? That's the question on the table. I don't think nine justices should decide it. I don't think 535 members of Congress should decide it. I think it should be decided by the people, state-by-state. Maybe sometime in the future, you know, maybe Congress can take a look at what the states have done and say, 'We probably ought to place this limit here,' based on new information or whatever."

Asked about the comments on Wednesday, a Johnson spokesperson said in an email that "no where does he talk about a national abortion ban" and said that Johnson "emphasizes this is on each state to decide and the people through their elected representatives."

Pressed about what sort of national rules Johnson does back, the spokesperson pointed to his previous record.

In his first run for Senate in 2010, Johnson said on his website that he was committed to "preserving Wisconsin values," promising to support a "culture of life."

Johnson has subsequently backed a ban on nearly all abortions and promoted anti-abortion "crisis pregnancy centers" which manipulate people with deceptive and dishonest tactics.

"It might be a little messy for some people, but abortion is not going away," Johnson predicted in May, before the Supreme Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. "I just don't think this is going to be the big political issue everybody thinks it is, because it's not going to be that big a change."

He also noted that while Wisconsin has an archaic 1849 abortion ban on the books that offers almost no exceptions, his constituents could just drive to a neighboring state if they wanted to end their pregnancy.

Following the Supreme Court's July decision, Johnson posted a lengthy explanation of his abortion positions on his "Just The Truth" campaign site.

He noted that he had backed federal abortion bans but that he thinks states should get to determine what sort of bans to adopt.

"I believe society has a responsibility to protect life at some point in the womb. As a U.S. Senator, I have voted in favor of protecting life after 20 weeks (5 months). I also signed an amicus brief supporting Dobbs in overturning Roe, and also in protecting life after 15 weeks (~4 months). I personally believe life begins at the moment of conception, but I fully support allowing the democratic process in each state to decide at what point society should protect that life. This is the profound moral question that must weigh the interests and rights of the mother against the interests and rights of the unborn child within her."

Polling shows that Johnson's position is well out of the mainstream among Wisconsin voters.

A June poll conducted by Marquette University Law School found that 58 percent of the state's adults back abortion rights in "all" or "most cases," while 35 percent say abortion should be illegal most or all of the time.

"There has been little change among preferences in abortion policy in recent years," the pollster noted while highlighting a small uptick in the percentage of people saying abortion should be legal in all cases.

Johnson, whose own approval rating hovers at around 35 percent is facing an uphill battle for reelection this November.

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the Democratic nominee, has been endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Barnes responded to Johnson's comments in a statement Wednesday.

"Ron Johnson's disregard for the rights and freedoms of Wisconsin women is disqualifying," Barnes said. "We deserve elected leaders who will go to the mat to protect our freedoms, but instead Ron Johnson is putting women and doctors at risk by supporting a federal abortion ban. He is dangerously out of touch with Wisconsinites and it's time to send him packing."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.