‘I didn’t see the hearing’: Wisconsin Republican refuses to denounce Ron Johnson’s Jan. 6 lies

On MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Rep. Mike Gallagher refused to denounce his fellow Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson's lies about the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Johnson during a Senate hearing read conspiracy theories published by the right-wing Federalist website that baselessly claimed "fake" supporters of former president Donald Trump were among those who stormed the Capitol as Congress certified President Joe Biden's election win, and co-host Willie Geist challenged Gallagher to challenge those false statements.

"Well, I didn't see the hearing," Gallagher began, and then justified Trump's lies about alleged election fraud. "I know that Ron Johnson legitimately wants to get to the bottom of any allegation of voter fraud or voter irregularity. I think there are a lot of states that made changes in the midst of the pandemic and we can have a dispassionate argument about whether those changes were wise going forward, and I do think it's incumbent on every state, Wisconsin included, to do a version of what Florida did post-2000 which is to take a look at what makes sense, what doesn't, you know, where we need to have a little more legislative oversight, but ultimately what I believe is that's not the province of the federal government, right? It's not the role of the federal government to tell the state of the Wisconsin how to conduct its election, let alone how to allocate its electors."

Geist wasn't ready to let him off the hook without answering the question, and asked Gallagher whether he agreed with Johnson that the rioters were anti-Trump provocateurs -- but the lawmaker again tap-danced away from the question.

"I didn't see what the senator said," Gallagher said.

So Geist explained the senator's remarks claiming the Trump supporters were largely peaceful and that any violence was likely committed by antifa or other anti-Trump individuals, but Gallagher refused to denounce Johnson's false statements.

"Well, again, I didn't see the hearing or exactly what Sen. Johnson said," Gallagher said. "I think all of us could look at that and say, okay, most of the people that showed up at the rally that morning were -- including the Air Force veteran who got killed tragically -- didn't wake up thinking, 'I'm going to be violently assaulting the U.S. Capitol, let alone losing my life,' right?"

In fact, federal prosecutors have alleged in multiple indictments that members of the pro-Trump groups the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers coordinated the assault on the Capitol in an effort to obstruct the congressional certification of Biden's win, and the former chief of Capitol police called it a coordinated military-style attack, but Gallagher insisted their role was minimal and limited to mostly property damage.

"There was probably a smaller number of people that showed up that day thinking, 'I want to break things, I want to make a mess,'" Gallagher said. "These are sorts of, like, the Proud Boys crowd and a smaller number militia types, far-right militia that showed up with a no-kidding plan they had been planning for months going forward, and how that complex mix played out, I'm not exactly certain."

"I still have unanswered questions," he added. "I want to get to the bottom of it because at least six people have lost their lives, including tragically a U.S. Capitol police officer, and that's unacceptable. We should all get to the bottom of that, and whether you're a far-right activist or far-left activist, advocating violence, perpetuating violence against your fellow citizens is 100 percent unacceptable."

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