The Senator Who Cried Wolf
Ron Johnson backs off claim about FBI, refuses to provide evidence.
These are not good days for Wisconsin’s Republican Senator Ron Johnson.
On Tuesday he went on Fox News to make an explosive claim that he had had “evidence of…corruption of the highest levels of the FBI” with a “secret society” that was “holding secret meetings off-site.”
“There’s so much smoke here, there’s so much suspicion” of the FBI, he went on.
From the beginning, as I wrote, there were many questioning this claim and asking for evidence, with even conservatives like Erick Erickson referring to Johnson’s comments as “a clown show” and Jonah Goldberg of the National Review suggesting this was part of “an astonishing amount of manufactured outrage, absurd dot-connecting, and near-hysteria” by Republicans.
Yesterday, just two days after making his damning accusation, Johnson admitted it was “entirely possible” the reference to a “secret society” made by FBI lawyer Lisa Page to senior FBI agent Peter Strzok was simply a joke. The two employees — of 35,000 who work at the FBI — were engaged in an extra-marital affair and had made many cryptic remarks that Johnson now seems to admit he could have taken out of context — while using it to damn an entire federal agency.
But it gets worse. Yesterday, as ABC News reported, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) sent a letter to Johnson calling on him to turn over information about an unnamed informant he claimed provided information about secret “off-site” meetings of FBI officials.
McCaskill serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that Johnson runs. She demanded “all information and documents” related to his claims of bias and possible conspiracy at the FBI that he referred to on TV.
“As a former prosecutor I understand fully the power of allegations in the public domain,” McCaskill wrote. “You have now made serious and damaging allegations. I would assume that you would never make those kinds of allegations without serious and substantial hard evidence.”
“And as Ranking Member of this Committee, I deserve access to this information.”
Johnson has yet to respond to McCaskill, and did not respond to Urban Milwaukee’s query, asking if he will provide this information.
Chris Cillizza of CNN has now dubbed Johnson “The Senator who cried wolf,” concluding that “Johnson was way, way, way out over his skis” with his claims.
Also walking back from all this silliness was the Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice, who did a story that excitedly amplified Johnson’s non-news. But in this morning’s paper, Bice and co-writer Bill Glauber wrote a story detailing the obvious holes in Johnson’s claims and including an interview with the senator, who “told the Journal Sentinel that he said he used the term ‘secret society’ only because Strzok and Page had done so.”
Really? So then who was this “informant” Johnson claimed had told his committee about corruption among FBI higher-ups?
Bice and Glauber didn’t ask.