Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson defended a slate of supporters of President Donald Trump who made fraudulent claims to be Wisconsin electors after the 2020 election in what they now admit was “part of an attempt to improperly overturn the 2020 presidential election results.” He also said one of those fake electors should continue to serve on the state’s bipartisan electoral administration board.
“No. Again, there was an active court case,” Johnson replied. “There were all kinds of irregularities in Wisconsin in the 2020 election, and in order to make sure that the case just wasn’t determined to be moot, they had to have an alternate slate of electors, just like Democrats have done repeatedly in all kinds of different states. There was nothing untoward about what they did. There was nothing illegal about what they did. They were just an alternate slate of electors.”
When pressed by Collins about the fact that Spindell and nine other fraudulent electors settled a civil lawsuit on Dec. 6 and admitted to conspiring to wrongfully overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, Johnson responded: “I realize Democrats have used the civil courts to harass these poor individuals. It’s unfortunate. It’s a travesty. But that’s what Democrats do. They view politics as a blood sport. It was unfortunate. These folks did nothing different than what many Democrats have done in many states throughout our history.”
He framed the settlement as “a nuisance lawsuit that never should have been brought,” “a harassment lawsuit,” and a “travesty of justice.”
Johnson again claimed that Democrats have used similar tactics to overturn election results in the past.
“It has happened repeatedly. Just go check the books,” Johnson told Collins.
“Which books?” Collins responded.
Johnson could not provide any specific examples.
In a tweet Monday evening, he offered one widely debunked example of what he called “Democrats denying elections.” “In the 1960 election, Democrats in Hawaii chose an alternative slate of electors, allowing JFK to be certified as the winner,” Johnson wrote.
Trump defenders have been using this debunked example for months, but it is not comparable. John F. Kennedy won a bare majority of votes in Hawaii in the 1960 election, but the original certified count showed Richard Nixon ahead. Since state electors had to cast their votes before a court-ordered recount was complete, both Hawaii slates cast their votes so the ultimate winners could be counted by Congress.
“The 1960 Hawaii dispute had no chance of overturning the overall election result and was not part of a general scheme to rig or steal the election,” Ilya Somin, a professor of law at George Mason University’s Scalia Law School and a constitutional studies expert at the conservative Cato Institute, told USA Today in September.
In the aftermath of the 2020 elections, Trump baselessly claimed he was the true winner in several swing states won by Joe Biden. Though Biden won all of the electors from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, pro-Trump elector slates gathered in each of those states and pretended Trump was the winner.
The pro-Trump slates from New Mexico and Pennsylvania explicitly wrote that their votes should be counted only if their states’ election was disputed (which Pennsylvania’s results ultimately were). The slates from Wisconsin and other states went a step further and falsely declared themselves the legitimate electors.
In addition to admitting that their role in the attempt to improperly overturn Biden’s victory, Wisconsin’s 10 fake electors agreed in their settlement that Biden was the actual 2020 winner in their state and agreed not to serve as 2024 electors or as Trump electors in subsequent elections.
Johnson employed Pam Travis, one of Wisconsin’s fraudulent 2020 electors, as a campaign staffer for his 2022 reelection campaign. In August 2022, Travis signed a solicitation email from the campaign for small-dollar campaign donations.
The U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States disclosed in June 2022 that Johnson had himself played a role in the attempt to subvert the election results by trying to transmit a fake electors certificate to Vice President Mike Pence prior to the Jan. 6, 2021, Electoral College vote counting.
After initially denying any involvement, Johnson later told WISN TV: “I had virtually no involvement. Literally, my involvement lasted seconds, OK?”
On Dec. 11, Republican Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said in a press statement that he would not rescind Spindell’s appointment over what he called “an ultimately-failed legal strategy. Not a sinister plot to overturn an election.”
Democratic Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski said Spindell should be removed from his position.
“He is clearly not fit,” Godlewski said in an interview. ““He doesn’t have the moral compass or ability to follow the law and he needs to be removed.”
A spokesperson for Johnson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.