Guys, that shadowy a “secret society” in the Department of Justice and the FBI whose sole purpose is to undermine the Trump administration (as if they needed help undermining themselves) might not be real. I know, right?
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), head of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, took his first walk-back Secret Society conspiracy step on Wednesday, but Thursday he fled.
Now that he’s fed the the right-wing media and base yet another false narrative and absurd conspiracy to feast upon, the Republican Senator says it might have all been written in jest.
Ron Johnson, who raised alarms this week about the FBI agents’ “secret society” text, just told me: “It’s a real possibility” the text was written in jest.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 25, 2018
To which Walter Shaub replied dryly for the rest of us:
Oh really? Ya think? https://t.co/to3hGhLUKO
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) January 25, 2018
Here’s the actual exchange provided to NBC News by a separate Congressional Republican source. It was “Sent within hours after Mr. Trump won the presidency, it shows Strozk and Page expressing concern in texts about what lay ahead”:
“Seems kind of depressing,” Page wrote Strzok. “Maybe it should just be the first meeting of the secret society.”
This little, sad joke has been blown up into a full on conspiracy by Republicans.
Johnson first began his back-pedal 24 hours ago, admitting that he didn’t know what the words meant when he blew the whistle on an imaginary society. His Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs will now focus on other important matters – no, not Russia’s interference or Trump allowing the Russian’s access to our top intelligence. No. Johnson will focus on the other fake boogeyman: Clinton’s emails.
Your tax dollars at work.
The same CNN congressional reporter reported Wednesday:
Ron Johnson tells us his “secret society” comments were based on an informant and the words used in a Strzok-Page text exchange. He acknowledges not knowing what they meant – and says the focus now on his committee is the Clinton email scandal.
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 24, 2018
To refresh everyone’s memory, this same man who now admits he didn’t know what the words meant and ZOMG they might have been in jest, told the conspiracy-primed Fox News audience in a Fox News Special Report that he had an informant who confirmed “a group holding secret meetings off-site.”
Johnson claimed this indicated “potentially corruption at the highest levels of the FBI.”
But now it was all a joke. He was just too stupid to get it at first. You know, before he fed the Republican audience yet another fake scandal they will believe and obsess over.
Will Johnson go on the same show and correct himself? Will Fox correct the completely inaccurate and actually ridiculous claims? Will the media humiliate Johnson for so obviously misleading people on purpose?
Oh, Johnson didn’t do it on purpose? In that case, if he is actually this ignorant and easily fooled, he has no business being in the Senate let alone on a homeland security committee.
Johnson is fleeing the conspiracy theory he knowingly seeded, so that he can avoid accountability for his Trump Russia distraction bomb. Republicans are in line with Johnson, so many of them working to distract from Trump Russia in what can only be seen as a deliberate betrayal of their country and oath.
These are not the actions of serious, responsible, patriotic people.
None of this would even be an issue if Republicans were not hunting so hard for a way to discredit the FBI that they abused the very “small government” principles they pretend to adhere to but only manage to execute when it helps corporations avoid accountability.
Now the “Republican small government” has the right to read FBI agents’ text messages and tell the world that they mean something even when the government claims not to actually understand the words.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.