Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, made his blunt evaluation during a conversation on CNN with anchor Don Lemon, who asked him about the senator’s defense of his comments. Johnson has claimed the left twisted his words.
“I heard it the way he meant it,” Clyburn said. “You know, the moment he said or prefaced his last statement, ‘I know I’m going to get in trouble for this,’ then went on to say it, said to me he knew exactly what he was saying, he knew why he was saying it, he knew exactly how the reactions would be. He just didn’t care.”
“The guy is racist,” Clyburn added. “This is not the first time he has indicated such.”
Johnson has on multiple occasions defended the Jan. 6 insurrectionists and downplayed their storming of the Capitol. He told a conservative radio host last week that he was not frightened by the pro-Trump mob ― which was largely white ― and called them “people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement [and] would never do anything to break a law.”
More than 300 people have been charged with federal offenses linked to the insurrection, including the assault of police officers. A Capitol Police officer was among the five deaths stemming from the attack.
But if it had been members of Black Lives Matter and Antifa marching on the Capitol that day, Johnson said he would have been “concerned.”
After receiving backlash, Johnson insisted his comments had nothing to do with race and were “completely innocuous.” He wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal claiming the left was trying to silence him and manipulate his meaning.