A Republican lawmaker invited a notorious far-right troll who peddles absurd conspiracy theories to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida gave a ticket to the speech to Chuck Johnson, a blogger who was permanently banned from Twitter after asking for help “taking out” a civil rights activist. A Gaetz spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed the invite to HuffPost.
Gaetz told The Daily Beast Johnson showed up at his office the day of the speech asking for a ticket. Johnson said several members of Congress invited him, but he took Gaetz’s ticket.
Johnson said he had a “wild time” at the speech.
“I certainly did a bunch of jumping out of my chair,” Johnson told The Daily Beast. “Trump was straight-up gangster.”
Johnson’s website, GotNews, is known for a wide range of false and dangerous writing, and promotes itself with the tagline: “President Trump reads us. You should too.”
In 2014, he falsely accused a New York Times reporter of posing for Playgirl. That same year, he published the name and photo of a person he claimed had falsely reported a rape (The photo, taken off Pinterest, showed the wrong person). He maintains that former President Barack Obama is “clearly gay,” and described Eric Garner, the unarmed black man who died in a New York police chokehold, as a “street thug.” Johnson said he identifies with the “alt-right.”
Gaetz also has shown a fondness for conspiracy theories. On Monday, he went on Alex Jones’ InfoWars broadcast to claim Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Russia “is built on a rotten foundation,” and will soon turn to Hillary Clinton.