GOP senator attempts to blame Nancy Pelosi, not Trump, for the Capitol riot as impeachment trial looms
GOP Sen. Ron Johnson suggested that Nancy Pelosi bore responsibility for the Capitol riot.
Johnson claimed that Trump's impeachment was being used to "deflect" blame from Pelosi.
Johnson did not cite any evidence, saying only that he was "suspicious."
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin claimed on Sunday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and not President Donald Trump was to blame for the riot at the US Capitol.
Johnson made the accusation in an interview with the Fox News host Maria Bartiromo in which he discussed Trump's second impeachment trial, due to begin on Tuesday.
He didn't cite any evidence, saying only that he was "suspicious."
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Trump was impeached for the second time on January 13. House lawmakers charged him with inciting an insurrection in a speech he delivered to supporters before they attacked the Capitol.
The violence prompted the evacuation of lawmakers who were certifying electoral votes. The insurrection left five people dead.
While a few Republicans have spoken out against Trump, others have steadfastly defended him - one element of that has been attempting to shift the blame elsewhere.
Seeking to defend Trump, Johnson suggested, without evidence, that the impeachment was part of a plot to divert attention from Pelosi.
—Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 7, 2021
"Is this another diversionary operation? Is this meant to deflect away from potentially what the speaker knew and when she knew it?" Johnson said. "I don't know, but I'm suspicious."
Mark Meadows, the former White House chief of staff, also tried to shift the blame for the riot away from Trump on the network on Sunday.
—Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) February 7, 2021
Meadows said that the US Capitol Police "do a tremendous job, but they need to be empowered to do that job, and there were plenty of assets there to assist them in their efforts."
"And some of those decisions weren't made appropriately, in my opinion, and those decisions did not come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue - it came from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue," he continued, referring to the Capitol.
Supporters of Trump on social media have baselessly blamed Pelosi for the breach. But the House speaker has no role in day-to-day policing operations of the Capitol, The Associated Press reported in a fact-check of the claims.
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"No one person oversees USCP - the oversight apparatus includes representation from the Architect of the Capitol, the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms, as well as committees from both Houses of Congress," Bee Barnett, the director of communications and programs for the US Capitol Historical Society, told the news agency.
In congressional testimony in January, acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman apologized to lawmakers for the security lapse that allowed Trump supporters to breach the Capitol.
She took charge of the law-enforcement agency days after the attack, which had prompted the resignation of chief Steven Sund.
In a video last week, Pittman said the department was conducting a full review of security at the Capitol complex.
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