Meet the Press host Chuck Todd repeatedly confronted Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Sunday morning over the latest futile plot to overthrow the election by Republicans, calling the pro-Trump Wisconsin lawmaker an “arsonist” and blasting him for “carrying a lot of this crazy conspiratorial water” for President Donald Trump.
Days ahead of Congress officially certifying the Electoral College vote, Johnson joined an effort led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in which at least 12 GOP senators will oppose the certification of the results, citing baseless and unfounded allegations of widespread voter fraud. On top of the Senate’s ploy, at least 140 House Republicans are also reportedly planning on objecting to the election results.
Todd, who invited Johnson on despite repeatedly clashing with the senator in the past for peddling conspiracies on-air, immediately kicked off Sunday’s confrontation by noting that Johnson has seemingly gone back on his word over the election.
“Last month you told a newspaper in your home state you would not object to the Electoral College certification,” the NBC News anchor said. “Quote, ‘Unless something surfaced, there are 57 cases filed by the president or his allies. Not a single court has found a single instance of fraud or any of this evidence seen as legitimate.’ So what has changed to have you question the results of this election, sir?”
The Homeland Security Committee chair insisted that he wasn’t trying to “thwart the democratic process” but was rather “acting to protect it,” claiming that it was an “unsustainable state of affairs” that tens of millions of voters don’t believe the election results were legitimate. The conservative senator went on to complain that Democrats “refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of President Trump” to further justify their plan to subvert the will of the voters.
Todd, meanwhile, referenced GOP Sen. Ben Sasse’s recent criticism of his fellow Republicans’ “dangerous ploy” to overthrow the election before further calling out Johnson and Trump, adding that they have failed to provide any evidence of fraud while still demanding investigations into the unproven allegations.
“So essentially, you’re the arsonist here,” the Meet the Press moderator declared. “President Trump is the arsonist here. You started this fire and now you’re saying whoa, look at this, oh my God, all these people believe what we told them because you didn’t have the guts to tell the truth that this election was fair.”
“This fire was started when you completely ignored, for example, our investigation of Hunter Biden,” Johnson eventually retorted, prompting Todd to fire back: “Alright, I've had enough of hearing this. You've spent the last 2 years… carrying a lot of this crazy, conspiratorial water for President Trump!”
Todd followed up by noting that Johnson has used his Senate committee to “create the illusion of voter fraud” by amplifying unfounded allegations, pressing the lawmaker to explain his motivation.
“I’m trying to understand here—what are you doing it for?” Todd wondered aloud. “You’re not trying to overturn the election, you just said. Are you simply trying to curry favor with constituents of the president’s? Is that what this is about—a political ploy?”
After claiming he was just trying to be “transparent,” Johnson once again began touting baseless claims of voter fraud before complaining that there was a “double standard” that Republicans’ election conspiracies aren’t being taken seriously by the media.
“Again, I didn’t light this fire. This fire was lit over four years ago and we’ve destroyed the credibility, you have destroyed the credibility of the news media by your bias,” he grumbled.
“Why didn’t you hold hearings about the 9/11 truthers? There are plenty of people that thought 9/11 was an inside job,” Todd shot back adding: “How about the moon landing? Are you going to hold hearings on that?”
The NBC host wrapped up the contentious interview by pointing out that Republican voters are going to think the election was unfair when “you tell people a million times that something was stolen,” telling Johnson that he needs to “look in the mirror” over his conspiracy-mongering.
“You need to look in the mirror,” Johnson shouted back. “That is what you did in the media. You carried that water for years. You destroyed the credibility of the press!”
“Sen. Johnson, other than crediting you for coming on, I appreciate that because only two of your colleagues had the guts to say yes this weekend about this conspiracy theory you’re working on,” Todd interjected, getting the final word. “Thanks for coming on. That I appreciate.”