Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy Michael Waller on Senator Ron Johnson and the Capitol Riots
Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and The Federalist contributor Michael Waller to the newsmakers line to comment upon Senator Ron Johnsons’s hearing and media backlash in which he referenced Waller’s eyewitness testimony at the Capitol riots on January 6.
Leahy: We are joined now on our newsmaker line by J. Michael Waller, who had a terrific article last month at The Federalist. No, Senator Ron Johnson didn’t promote a conspiracy theory about the Capitol riot. Welcome to The Tennessee Star Report Michael. Nice to talk to you again.
Waller: Hey, it’s great to be back.
Leahy: Let me just set the groundwork for this. I have been arguing on the air for several months now that Joe Biden is a legal but not legitimate president of the United States for a number of reasons. Mostly focused on the unlawful election procedures that led up to the 2020 election in the key states, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and the failure of state legislatures to convene to review those processes.
And then, of course, the failure that happened in Washington at the time of the meeting of the joint session of Congress on January 6, the day of this Capitol riot. Now, you’ve looked at this and you’ve written a lot about what really happened that day. Tell us about what you’ve written about and what Senator Ron Johnson has explained about what you observed.
Waller: Sure. I wrote about what I saw because I was there. So it was first hand accounts. I was at the West front of the Capitol on January 6 at the march from the White House to the Capitol when President Trump gave his talk at the White House. And what I observed on the ground as an eyewitness had no resemblance to what was reported and popularly believed, even though those things happened, a lot of those things happened as well.
Really, it was just a huge crowd of ordinary Americans who had voted for President Trump, who were upset about what you were just talking about. Not the election results themselves, they could have accepted a legitimate election loss. They were upset about what they saw as illegal or otherwise rings electric results in certain states where their votes were stolen from them. But it was not an angry mob like the media reported.
We came all the way to Washington from all around the country and we got to see or hear the President speak to us personally. We’re all marching together down to the Capitol and we’re going to express our views. And that was that. Where it went badly was that for weeks, if not since November, this was maybe up to two months, certainly for several weeks, there were organized groups that had trained and prepared to exploit that large crowd for its own purposes and to wage violence that day to attack the Capitol building.
And the Capitol police were completely unprepared for it. The city police of Washington, D.C., that do a fine job at crowd control when they’re allowed to by the mayor, there were not many of them out there, and they didn’t expect any violence. And sure enough, when the organized groups and you could see this happen with military precision, especially looking back at the videos that we shot, just amateur videos showing that this was a covert cadre that had come in with the purpose of committing violence that day. And of course, the media was all over it, saying that it was President Trump’s legitimate supporters. It was not that way at all.
Leahy: And Senator Ron Johnson has talked about that and has been criticized for it. Tell us about that.
Waller: Yes. Ron Johnson is one of the few who’s not afraid to speak his mind and not afraid to use his staff time and his own time to follow up on leads to questions that people might have in their heads and that few of them asked personally. And he did. He was chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee until early or late January, now he’s in the minority.
Senator Amy Klobuchar is chair of a larger committee. So there are two Senate committees all run by Democrats put together to start the first round of investigative hearing. And Senator Johnson raised at that hearing the idea that maybe this wasn’t tens and hundreds of thousands of armed violent conservative Trump supporters.
Maybe it was just a few trained radicals who did this. And so he read portions of my article in The Federalist into the record and asked if the rest of it be entered as eyewitness evidence. And from what I understand, that was the first piece of eyewitness evidence that was introduced into the Senate investigation. He itemized the four different cadre groups that I saw at the time and started asking questions about it. And then he was just (Inaudible talk) because it didn’t fit the narrative.
Leahy: Now let’s talk about this a little bit. Has anyone speculated or is there any evidence about who these radical organizers planned in advance or who are they affiliated with? Is there any information on that out there?
Waller: Yes, there is. In fact, we heard it at the time and I didn’t put it in the article because I didn’t want to name a group falsely, but there was one group was called The Oathkeepers. There were some members of the Proud Boys there. And there were some groups that we didn’t know about and didn’t know their names.
But we did recognize other groups just because they were wearing the insignia on their clothes or identified the people who they were at the event. And this was the other thing, I wrote the article, not for anybody to read, but I wrote them as my own private notes so that I would remember later exactly what I saw on January 6 without any coloring or adjustment from what we later picked up elsewhere.
And we put more information together that colors the view of the past. I wanted this to be a snapshot of exactly what I saw at the time. But there was another group there, and I didn’t know who it was because it doesn’t have a formal membership. But they were more radicalized militants who were wearing MAGA clothes or Trump clothes, but they didn’t fit in.
There were a lot of spirited people there and some rowdy ones of course. Plenty of them. And they were wearing Trump gear. But there was one group where they didn’t fit in. They were acting cautious, paranoid even. They were clustered together in small groups, and they ran ahead forward with a sense of mission as if they knew what they were doing. But they really felt awkward, and they really didn’t fit in.
And this march, it’s about a mile and a half walk from the Capitol to the White House or the White House to the Capitol. And people were just saying hello and chatting and stuff so that they could take pictures of the other people as a group. And asking, hey, can you guys take pictures for us? And then you strike up a conversation about where you’re from. And they’re just, you know, people were obviously in D.C. for the first time.
I’ve been here for almost 40 years. They were just chatting with them. But these people you couldn’t chat with them and they looked to me like Antifa or troublemakers, but I wasn’t sure. And I said so in the article. I said, this other cadre dressed this way, acting this way looked like left wingers like Antifa, but I wasn’t sure. And regardless, I didn’t see them cause any trouble. (Inaudible talk)
Leahy: Has there been any follow-up from law enforcement on these group claims of yours?
Waller: Yes there has. But here’s the important thing. What the media did was they took that little section saying that I saw people who I thought might be Antifa but I didn’t see them do anything wrong. They twisted Ron Johnson’s words to say that he was accusing Antifa of being behind the Capitol attack and then they just ripped into him. And me too also. They said that this is crazy, paranoid talk. There’s no evidence.
Leahy: And it was just Michael Waller and what you saw that you wrote down. Michael Waller with The Federalist. Thanks so much for joining us today. Keep us posted on what develops here.
Waller: You bet.
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Photo “Capitol Protest” by Elijah Schaffer.