Speed Reads

'just a delivery boy'

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson draws Pennsylvania congressman, Wisconsin lawyer into fake Trump electors plot

Sen Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told reporters last week he "had no hand" in an effort to deliver illegitimate "alternate" Electoral College ballots to former Mike President Mike Pence on Jan. 6, 2021. Now he says he coordinated the attempted delivery with a Wisconsin attorney and was given the fake electors by Rep. Mike Kelly's (R-Pa.) office, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Kelly's spokesman called Johnson's allegation "patently false."

Former President Donald Trump's campaign, the House Jan. 6 committee has detailed, wanted Pence to use the fake Trump electors to halt or at least delay certifying President Biden's electoral victory and eventually hand the election to Trump.

Johnson originally responded to released text messages by saying the attempt to hand Pence "alternate slates of electors" for Michigan and Wisconsin was handled at the staff level and he didn't know what was in the packet for Pence or which "staff intern" had delivered it. 

On Thursday, Johnson told conservative Wisconsin radio host Vicki McKenna he got a text from Jim Troupis, a Trump campaign lawyer in Wisconsin, on Jan. 6: "Need to get a document on Wisconsin electors to you and the VP immediately." He said he passed the message from Troupis to his chief of staff.

Johnson told McKenna "we found out now" the package came from Kelly's office, but at the time, "we didn't know what it was. We thought it was documents involved in the electors. Once we got it — again, I didn't know this, I was probably already in the Senate — they found out they were the alternate slates of electors, but not only from Wisconsin but also from Michigan, which is, you know, still odd." Johnson's spokeswoman later suggested they know of Kelly's alleged involvement from "independent reporting" by conservative journalist John Solomon.

"What still doesn't make sense," Politico notes, is that "senators are normally assumed to be judicious in what they pass along to the executive branch, but Johnson is essentially alleging that his staff attempted to pass on the document from Kelly to Pence without any vetting."

Stephen Colbert expressed similar doubts that Johnson was "just a delivery boy" on Wednesday's Late Show: "You know those announcements in the airport when they say, 'Do not carry onto the flight a package for someone you don't know'? I've always wondered who those announcements are for. Turns out, it's Ron Johnson."