WASHINGTON – After initially claiming to be “basically unaware” of an effort by his staff to get fake presidential elector documents to Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Thursday he coordinated with a Wisconsin attorney to pass along such information and alleged a Pennsylvania congressman brought slates of fake electors to his office — a claim that was immediately disputed.
Evidence presented this week by the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol showed Johnson’s chief of staff tried to deliver the two states’ lists of fake presidential electors for former President Donald Trump to Pence on the morning of the U.S. Capitol insurrection but was rebuffed by Pence’s aide.
Johnson initially told reporters this week he did not know where the documents came from and that his staff sought to forward it to Pence.
But he said in a Thursday interview on WIBA-AM that he had since discovered the documents came from Pennsylvania U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, and acknowledged he coordinated with Dane County attorney Jim Troupis and his chief of staff by text message that morning to get to Pence a document Troupis described as regarding “Wisconsin electors.”
Kelly’s office immediately pushed back on Johnson’s claim, saying: “Senator Johnson’s statements about Representative Kelly are patently false.”
“Mr. Kelly has not spoken to Sen. Johnson for the better part of a decade, and he has no knowledge of the claims Mr. Johnson is making related to the 2020 election.”
On Thursday, Johnson said Troupis contacted him by text message on the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, to get a document on “Wisconsin electors” to Pence.
Johnson said he then introduced the attorney to his chief of staff by text message to handle the request. He said he did not know what the document was or intended to accomplish.
In a story by conservative reporter John Solomon and shared by Johnson on Thursday, Solomon reported Kelly also called Troupis to get elector documents to Pence that morning through Johnson.
Troupis, a Dane County attorney who represented Trump in recounts of the liberal Dane and Milwaukee counties and sought to throw out tens of thousands of ballots to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election, did not immediately respond to an email from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel seeking comment.
In the recounting of events by Solomon, a Trump campaign official asked Kelly to get an “alternate slate” of electors to Pence. Kelly then called Troupis, who then texted Johnson, according to the story.
In response to Kelly’s rebuke of Johnson’s claims, Johnson spokesperson Alexa Henning told the Journal Sentinel Johnson “never said he spoke with Representative Kelly and John Solomon’s reporting doesn’t say he spoke with him.”
“It is John Solomon’s independent reporting that Judge Troupis spoke to Representative Kelly,” Henning said.
Ten Republicans who convened at the Wisconsin State Capitol on Dec. 14, 2020, signed paperwork falsely claiming to be presidential electors for Trump and mailed those documents to the U.S. Archive and Congress.
The Republicans contended they were submitting the paperwork in case Trump’s loss was overturned. Former Republican Party of Wisconsin chairman Andrew Hitt told the Jan. 6 committee he would not have supported the use of the paperwork to overturn the election illegitimately.
Henning said earlier this week Johnson had “no involvement in the creation of an alternate slate of electors and had no foreknowledge that it was going to be delivered to our office.”
“This was a staff to staff exchange,” Henning wrote in a tweet. “His new Chief of Staff contacted the Vice President’s office. The Vice President’s office said not to give it to him and we did not. There was no further action taken. End of story.”