Sen. Johnson: ‘Unequal Enforcement’ of the Law a Major Concern for Republicans

February 21, 2021 Updated: February 22, 2021

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) expressed his frustration on Feb. 21 over the “double standard” applied by Democrats when it comes to prosecuting violent acts during riots and protests.

Johnson, a member and former chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” program that Republicans are “troubled” by how Democrats fail to equally enforce the law against individuals who commit acts of violence, referring to violent rioters who terrorized cities and destroyed property over the summer during Black Lives Matter protests.

Although Republicans have actively condemned the violent acts perpetrated during the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, Johnson said he hasn’t observed the same of his Democratic colleagues in terms of condemning the violence perpetrated by left-wing extremists.

“That’s not the same standard that the Democrats use … in many cases [they] encouraged the riots that occurred over the summer,” he said.

“Whether it was $1 [billion] to $2 billion of property damage, 12 to 19 people killed in those peaceful protests turned to riots, no condemnation. In fact, there’s actually encouragement of that, for example, by the vice president [Kamala Harris] to encourage people to donate to a fund that would bail out the rioters.”

During the summer riots, then-Sen. Harris asked her followers to donate to Minneapolis Freedom Fund (MFF). She promoted the fund in a Twitter post on June 1, 2020, saying, “If you’re able to, chip in now to the @MNFreedomFund to help post bail for those protesting on the ground in Minnesota.”

The MFF raised about $35 million following the death of George Floyd in late May 2020, Fox 9 reported. According to the MFF’s website, the group has spent less than 10 percent of that, or about $3.48 million, to bail people out of jail, with $210,000 of that used for bailing out those who were arrested amid protests since late May.

“How does that make sense? So the double standard, the unequal enforcement of the law, is really what troubles an awful lot of people on our side of the aisle,” Johnson added.

He commented days before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs is scheduled to hold a hearing about the events of Jan. 6 and to seek accountability for the incident.

Johnson noted that his letter sent to the now-acting and former sergeants-at-arms of the House and Senate—seeking information about the security planning done prior to the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6—hasn’t yet been answered, and that senators are going into the hearing with limited accurate information, other than a letter (pdf) to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund, in which he explained the actions he took to shore up security for Jan. 6.

“Right now, we’re going to be going into that hearing with what we’ve read in the newspaper,” he said.

“We don’t have the base of information I would like to have before I would go into a hearing … I’m hoping we start getting some information from the people that were actually there and we get a full accounting of what actually happened.”

He noted conflicting reports about what the FBI knew prior to Jan. 6, saying that one branch appeared to have received some “pretty disconcerting warnings” about the breach beforehand. However, Johnson pointed out that in Sund’s letter, the FBI and other law enforcement officials didn’t provide “any intelligence indicating that there would be a coordinated violent attack on the U.S. Capitol.”

“Perfect hindsight does not change the fact that nothing in our collective experience or our intelligence—including intelligence provided by FBI, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and D.C. Metropolitan Police (MPD)–indicated that a well-coordinated, armed assault on the Capitol might occur on January 6,” Sund wrote in his letter.

“There was really no suspected harmful activity,” Johnson said. “People really were caught by surprise. This was not predictable. This was not foreseeable as the House managers continue to talk about. I just don’t believe it was.”

The Senate Homeland Security Committee on Feb. 23 is scheduled to hear from Sund, former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, and Metropolitan Police Department Acting Chief Robert Contee.

Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.

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