Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Monday insisted that his disturbing rhetoric against members of Black Lives Matter while defending the overwhelmingly white Capitol rioters was “innocuous” and not “racial.”
“There was nothing racial about my comments, nothing whatsoever,” the perturbed senator explained in response to a reporter’s question. “This isn’t about race, this is about riots.”
Johnson told a conservative talk radio host last week that he was not frightened by the white mob of Trump supporters that stormed the Capitol Jan. 6. Even though more than 320 people have been arrested in the siege — including two men charged in an attack on a police officer who died — Johnson deemed the rioters people who “love this country.”
They “truly respect law enforcement [and] would never do anything to break a law,” he added.
The right-wing senator said, however, that he would have been “concerned” if members of Black Lives Matter or antifa had been in the Capitol that day.
“Let’s face it, people didn’t board up their storefronts in metropolitan areas in case Joe Biden won,” Johnson said.
He said Monday that he expected pushback over his comments, but found the harsh criticism “shocking” over what he defended as “completely innocuous comments.” He added: “Use the race card on me and say there’s some kind of racist comment involved, and there was none.”
Earlier on Monday, Johnson said in a radio interview on WISN-AM: “I completely did not anticipate that anybody could interpret what I said as racist. It’s not.” He said his comments were not racist because some white people attend Black Lives Matters protests.