Ron Johnson confronts Biden nominee who accused him of white supremacy and lied about it

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Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, successfully prodded a Biden nominee into apologizing to him for having smeared him in a tweet posted last March.

The nominee, historian Deborah Lipstadt, posted a tweet on March 14th, 2021, linking to a Haaretz story about how Johnson was being “slammed as [a] ‘white nationalist sympathizer'” over remarks he’d made about the Jan. 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In the tweet, Lipstadt wrote in her own words, “This is white supremacy/nationalism.”


In confronting Lipstadt, whom President Joe Biden has nominated to serve as U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, Johnson first askedhow she’d feel if someone who didn’t even know her suddenly called her a racist.

“If somebody came up to you privately, quietly and said you’re a racist, you’re a white supremacist, you’re a white nationalist … how would you feel?” he asked.

“By the way, I do not believe you are. I would never assume that because, you know, certainly growing up … I was taught the commandment that says do not bear false witness,” he added, clarifying that he wasn’t himself accusing her.

Lipstadt replied that she’d “disagree” with the critic. She then mysteriously turned the question around by suggesting that she herself has never behaved this way.

“I would say they’re wrong. Second of all, I would disagree with them. And as I said earlier, but I want to reiterate, that even in my critiques of people, I’m very careful never to ascribe to the person …,” she said before Johnson cut her off with a fact-check.

“But that’s not true. What you just testified, that is false. … First of all, you don’t know me. You don’t know a lot of the people that you have accused online in front of millions of people. You have engaged in the malicious poison. You’ve accused people you don’t know of very vile things,” the Republican senator said.

“Wouldn’t you agree that probably calling somebody racist is just under murderer and rapist? Is that not about as serious and vile an accusation as you can hurl against somebody — somebody you don’t even know? I mean, you’ve never talked to me, you’ve never met me, you don’t know what’s in my heart. Do you?”

“No, I do not know what’s in your heart at all,” Lipstadt conceded.

So why then, Johnson replied, has she accused him of things he’s not guilty of?

“And not only me,” he added.

In 2017, she falsely accused the Trump administration — considered to be the most pro-Jewish administration in U.S. history, of engaging in “soft core Holocaust denial”:

“By the way, Sen. Rubio said this position is supposed to be bipartisan. But it seems to me like how you engage in malicious poison is purely partisan. You’re hurling these charges against people that are generally of one political persuasion. That’s not nonpartisan,” the Republican lawmaker continued.

“But again, why did you go on social media and level these vile and horrible charges against people, including me, that you don’t even know? … Why did you do it?”

Lipstadt tried once again to deny reality.

“Well, first of all, I don’t think as far as I can tell, and I’m happy to to have this conversation further or right here, call you personally. I don’t call people personally …,” she said before being cut off.

“No, I mean, we all know the tweet. It’s right here. You said it’s pure and simple white supremacist, nationalist, and then you refer to articles that continue the charge. Do you feel bad about that at all? I mean, do you retract that? I mean, what’s your current position on this?” Johnson said.

To her credit, the Biden nominee finally relented and — in addition to admitting what she’d written — apologized for her tweet.

“While I may disagree with what you said specifically, and I think that’s a legitimate difference, I certainly did not mean it, and I’m sorry if I made it in a way that it could be assumed to be a political attack at the person personally,” she said.

What he “said specifically” in March was that he’d initially felt no fear on Jan. 6th because of there being no history whatever of Trump supporters erupting into violence and rioting like the Black Lives Matter extremists who’d raged for months on end the year prior.

He added at the time that, though some Jan. 6th Stop the Steal rally attendees did riot at the Capitol, they represented “probably less than one percent” of all rallygoers.

Responding to Lipstadt’s apology during Tuesday’s hearing, Johnson accepted it but stressed that he expects more from someone who’s worked a “professional career” for 30+years.

“I appreciate your apology and I’ll accept your apology … but I think somebody that has had a 30-year professional career ought to know better. And when you’re being nominated and considered for confirmation to a position of diplomacy representing the United States, I cannot support your nomination,” he said.

Vivek Saxena


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