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GOP Sen. Ron Johnson admits there is 'a real possibility' the evidence he used to stoke rumors of an FBI 'secret society' was a joke

A deep state "secret society" referenced in a text message between senior FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page might have been meant as a joke, the conspiracy theory's instigator, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), admitted on Thursday.

Johnson, along with an army of conservative commentators, have been claiming that the text between Strzok and Page is proof of an FBI conspiracy against the president. A message from Page sent the day after President Trump was elected read: "Are you even going to give out your calendars? Seems kind of depressing. Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society." The message has "no apparent tie to other messages sent before or after it," ABC News said.

Nevertheless, Newsmax claimed "the language of the messages is troubling and its implications could well lead to the largest political scandal since Watergate." Added Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.): "There's a text exchange between these two FBI agents, these two supposedly objective facts-centric FBI agents, that perhaps this is the first meeting of the 'secret society.'" Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) also contributed: "When folks speak in those terms, they need to come forward to explain the context with which they used those terms."

Johnson, though, walked back his claims about the "secret society" on Wednesday, saying: "Everything I take with a grain of salt." Then he took an even bigger step back on Thursday speaking with CNN's Manu Raju, telling him "it's a real possibility" the text message was just a joke.

Well, either that or it's as big as Watergate.