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Ron Johnson Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson

Haley BeMiller
By Haley BeMiller January 5, 2021

Sen. Ron Johnson changes tune on objecting to Electoral College results

If Your Time is short

  • Johnson said in mid-December that he had no plans to object to the Electoral College results that will be tallied on Jan. 6. 

  • He spoke of potential “irregularities” in certain states but overall considered the election to be legitimate.

  • Weeks later, he joined other Republicans in pledging to object despite no evidence emerging that points to rampant fraud.

It’s a new year, and the turmoil surrounding the 2020 presidential election still isn’t over.

Congress convenes on Jan. 6, 2021 to count the Electoral College votes that show President-elect Joe Biden defeating President Donald Trump 306 to 232. Vice President Mike Pence, acting as Senate president, will open the sealed certificates from each state, hand them to tellers to read aloud and call for any objections to the results.

That’s where Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson plans to come in.  

Johnson and 10 other Republican senators and senators-elect issued a statement on Jan. 2, 2021 saying they will object to the votes in "disputed states" unless an election audit is completed. 

The move came as Trump and his allies have continued to try to cast doubt on the Nov. 3 election despite no evidence of widespread fraud and nearly 60 failed legal attempts to overturn the results.

Weeks before that, Johnson was singing a different tune about the Jan. 6 session. So we decided to break out our Flip-O-Meter. 

Reminder: We’re not measuring whether any change in position is good policy or good politics. We’re just examining whether a public official has been consistent in his or her stated views.

Let’s take a look.

Then

A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter asked Johnson on Dec. 15, 2020 whether he planned to object to the Electoral College votes. 

"No, I don’t have any plans," Johnson said. "Something would have to surface that would call into question the legitimacy of the election. Again, so far nothing has … again, plenty of irregularities, things that need to be investigated."

He went on to say he regarded the election as legitimate and accepted Biden as president-elect. The next day, however, he held a Senate hearing to discuss election "irregularities" and argued that legitimate questions had been raised about how it was administered in Wisconsin and other states. 

Still, Johnson said he didn’t anticipate a level of fraud that would change the election’s outcome.

"Today we will hear testimony on … how fraudulent voting did occur, as it always does," he said during the hearing. "The question that follows is whether the level of fraud would alter the outcome of the election. This year, through dozens of court cases, through the certification process in each state, and by the electoral college vote, the conclusion has collectively been reached that it would not."

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Now

Johnson’s more recent comments, however, paint an entirely different picture.

In their statement, Johnson and his Republican colleagues claimed that the 2020 election "featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud, violations and lax enforcement of election law, and other voting irregularities."

Johnson added to that in a Jan. 4, 2021 talk radio appearance, saying 50 to 70 million Americans "have real legitimate suspicions that this election was stolen" — but offered nothing more than suspicions, which Trump and others helped stoke.

That same day, he said on Fox News that affirming the results would turn a blind eye to alleged problems in certain states. Again, he did not offer specifics on new evidence, but rather past allegations that have been litigated in lawsuits and other forums.

He also appeared on the conservative Newsmax network and argued for an investigation, saying fraud allegations need to be taken seriously. 

"There's so many irregularities here," Johnson said in the interview.

Johnson has not said whether he’ll challenge his own state, but the results in Wisconsin have been disputed multiple times after Biden won by a narrow margin similar to the victory Trump secured in 2016. 

Spokesmen for Johnson did not respond to PolitiFact Wisconsin’s inquiry about what changed the senator’s mind.

But here’s what hasn’t changed: Courts across the country, including the nation’s highest, continue to throw out lawsuits brought by Trump allies alleging the election was rigged. And as of Dec. 23, 2020, only a handful of fraud cases had emerged in battleground states — including one woman charged in suburban Milwaukee. 

That’s hardly unprecedented. 

Our ruling

Johnson said in mid-December that he had no plans to object to the Electoral College results that Congress will tally on Jan. 6. He spoke of potential "irregularities" in certain states but overall considered the election to be legitimate.

Weeks later, he joined other Republicans in pledging to object despite no evidence emerging that points to rampant fraud. 

We give Johnson a Full Flop.

 

 

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Sen. Ron Johnson changes tune on objecting to Electoral College results

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