So let’s take a closer look at Johnson’s record as a propagator of the Big Lie, because it exposes the danger of what might happen if there is another close presidential election and the GOP retains control of the House with Johnson as speaker.
“You don’t want people who falsely claim the last election was stolen to be in a position of deciding who won the next one,” Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, told The Associated Press.
“Johnson is more dangerous because he wrapped up his attempt to subvert the election outcomes in lawyerly and technical language,” Hasen said.
Before being elected to Congress in 2016, Johnson, a constitutional law attorney, served as senior legal counsel from 2002-2010 for the Alliance Defense Fund (now known as the Alliance Defending Freedom), a Christian conservative legal advocacy group that opposes abortion and LGBTQ+ rights. Johnson himself wrote opinion pieces against marriage equality and endorsing briefs filed by the ADF meant to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults, Rolling Stone reported. The Southern Poverty Law Center designated the ADF as a hate group in 2016.
So it was no surprise that Johnson sent out this tweet on Nov. 7, 2020, when media outlets largely called the race for Biden:
Two days later, Johnson sent out another tweet indicating that he was in regular contact with Trump:
Politico wrote that in an interview with a Louisiana-based radio host on Nov. 9, Johnson added details on his call with Trump and made clear that “they already had their eye on a Supreme Court showdown.” Johnson said he thought “there’s at least five justices on the court that will do the right thing.”
Then on Nov. 17, Johnson repeated the debunked claim put forth by Trump lawyers that there was an international conspiracy to hack Dominion voting machines so Trump would lose the election, The Associated Press reported. The AP quoted Johnson as saying:
“In every election in American history, there’s some small element of fraud, irregularity,” Johnson said in the interview. “But when you have it on a broad scale, when you have a software system that is used all around the country that is suspect because it came from Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, when you have testimonials of people like this, it demands to be litigated.”
As more states moved to confirm their election results, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a hail-Mary lawsuit in early December asking the Supreme Court to reject the election results in four states carried by Biden—Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—on the basis that those states introduced pandemic-related changes to election procedures that were illegal.
In Congress, Johnson, who had served on Trump’s first impeachment defense team in early 2020, helped lead the effort to get 126 Republican lawmakers to sign an amicus brief supporting the Texas lawsuit. Johnson tweeted:
Then on Dec. 11, in a 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the Texas lawsuit. On Dec. 14, the electoral college members met in their states to cast their ballots for president. That same day Johnson said in a radio interview that Congress still had the final say on whether to accept Biden’s electors on Jan. 6, 2021, Politico reported.
On Jan. 5, Johnson met with fellow GOP House members in a closed-door meeting to discuss what they should do in Congress the next day.
”This is a very weighty decision. All of us have prayed for God’s discernment. I know I’ve prayed for each of you individually,” Johnson said at the meeting, according to a record of his comments obtained by POLITICO, before urging his fellow Republicans to join him in opposing the results.
On the morning of Jan. 6, 2021, just hours before the mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, Johnson tweeted:
After the mob of Trump supporters attacked the Capitol, Johnson condemned the violence, according to The New York Times, but he defended the actions of Republican lawmakers to object to Biden’s victory. And when Congress reconvened, more than half of the House GOP caucus supported objections to Biden’s victory.
In an October 2022 report published weeks before the midterm election, The New York Times emphasized Johnson’s role in the vote:
In formal statements justifying their votes, about three-quarters relied on the arguments of a low-profile Louisiana congressman, Representative Mike Johnson, the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.
On the eve of the Jan. 6 votes, he presented colleagues with what he called a “third option.” He faulted the way some states had changed voting procedures during the pandemic, saying it was unconstitutional, without supporting the outlandish claims of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters. His Republican critics called it a Trojan horse that allowed lawmakers to vote with the president while hiding behind a more defensible case. …
Even lawmakers who had been among the noisiest “stop the steal” firebrands took refuge in Mr. Johnson’s narrow and lawyerly claims, though his nuanced argument was lost on the mob storming the Capitol, and over time it was the vision of the rioters — that a Democratic conspiracy had defrauded America — that prevailed in many Republican circles.
Johnson has not wavered from his position that he and other House GOP members had been right to object to the election results.
In its report, the Congressional Integrity Project noted that Johnson had voted against creating a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, calling it “a third impeachment.” He also voted against holding former White House adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House Jan. 6 select committee.
And just months before the House GOP caucus voted unanimously in October to install Johnson as speaker, he gave oxygen to the baseless conspiracy theory held by right-wing Republicans that federal agents orchestrated the Jan. 6 insurrection. He alleged that FBI Director Christopher Wray was “hiding something” about the FBI’s presence in the Capitol on Jan. 6, the Congressional Integrity Project reported.
In November, Johnson fulfilled a promise he made to far-right members of the House GOP caucus in order to secure the speaker’s post when he announced plans to publicly release thousands of hours of security camera video footage from the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, blurring the faces of individual protesters. Earlier last year, then-Fox News host Tucker Carlson used selectively edited security camera footage to make the claim that Jan. 6 was largely a peaceful protest and the demonstrators were “not insurrectionists, they were sightseers.”
In its report, the Congressional Integrity Project said one of the biggest dangers is that the attempted Jan. 6, 2021 coup never ended because Johnson and the same Trump allies behind that insurrection are now fully behind the sham Biden impeachment effort.
These Republicans include Johnson, Jordan, Comer, and such firebrands as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs of Arizona, and Matt Gaetz of Florida, the report said.
With the report, Kyle Herrig, the executive director of the Congressional Integrity Project, issued a statement that read:
“The same MAGA Republicans who led Donald Trump’s deadly insurrection and attempt to overthrow an election he knew he lost, are the same ones pushing the bogus impeachment of President Biden. MAGA Republicans are a threat to all Americans and our democracy. They will stop at nothing to pursue their radical, out-of-touch agenda, including violence. All of their actions on behalf of the disgraced former president in an attempt to distract from his 91 criminal indictments and help him return to the White House in 2024—and they don’t care who stands in their way.”