President Donald Trump and Sen. Ron Johnson at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, January 14, 2020.
Former President Donald Trump and Sen. Ron Johnson at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, January 14, 2020. Johnson held up progress on Trump's 2017 tax bill until it included a provision that benefited pass-through companies like the one he owned at the time. (Image via Shutterstock)

From fake electors to using Sen. Ron Johnson as a way to plant fraudulent ballots, Wisconsin will remain a focus as the congressional committee resumes its case Tuesday to show who knew about the insurrection plans.

When the four conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday against the use of ballot drop boxes, it gave former President Donald Trump an opening to again make false claims about voting in the state and to push for overruling the will of Wisconsin voters in 2020. But his message will likely be drowned out Tuesday as the congressional committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol resumes its presentations that connect the dots between Trump, individuals, and groups that tried to overthrow the election—including several dots in the closely-divided battleground state of Wisconsin.

Writing on his tiny social media site, Trump called on the Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly to decertify the state’s presidential election certification—something not allowed by law and something not needed because there was no widespread voter fraud, as Trump falsely promotes.

“It’s now up to Robin Vos to do what everybody knows must be done. We need FAIR and HONEST Elections in our Country,” the former president wrote. “Speaker Robin Vos has a decision to make! Does Wisconsin RECLAIM the Electors, turn over the Election to the actual winner (by a lot!), or sit back and do nothing as our Country continues to go to HELL?”

Trump is trying to project bombastic confidence despite the mounting evidence from the Jan. 6 Committee that he had a direct role in events that promoted the Big Lie about election fraud and laid the groundwork for an insurrection that was not at all the organic event initially claimed by Trump supporters. 

While the US Department of Justice is assumed to be quietly conducting its own investigation, a legal scholar who served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in Trump’s first impeachment trial is praising how the congressional committee is meticulously assembling its own findings.

“Before they began they said, we’re not going to prosecute a criminal case. We’re going to leave that to the prosecutors,” Norman Eisen said during a Monday news conference. “But, in fact, they have prosecuted a criminal case—devastatingly so, and they’ve done it through Donald Trump’s own former allies and former colleagues in the White House and his administration. As the committee presses forward on this devastating criminal case that they are laying out, the proof just keeps piling on and on.”

The case has included its share of Wisconsin twists: The battleground state was among those where Trump allies set up slates of fake electors. Sen. Ron Johnson was minutes away from possibly conveying fraudulent electoral ballots to Vice President Mike Pence. Trump attorney John Eastman held a state Capitol meeting pressuring Vos to claim he could nullify the election.

Those ties and more have been collected in a new report, “The Role of Wisconsin’s MAGA Republicans in the Criminal Conspiracy to Overturn the 2020 Election,” by the Defend Democracy Project which held Monday’s news conference with Eisen and others seeking accountability for those behind what many consider an attempted coup.

A Democratic legislator called Jan. 6 the end of the first act of a three-act plan—with the third act, according to Sen. Kelda Roys (D-Madison), being “the end of American democracy, without free and fair elections.”  Roys said the second act is the current effort to rewrite election laws, make it harder for people to vote and easier for Republicans to overturn election results they don’t like, and eliminate or intimidate the Wisconsin Elections Commission. The third act, she said, is “the end of American democracy, without free and fair elections.”

“We know that Sen. Ron Johnson pressured Dean Knutson, a conservative Republican appointee, to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, to resign,” Roys said, “because he wanted to put somebody in that seat on the Elections Commission that would be more amenable to the MAGA conspiracy theories to try to overturn the election.”

Wisconsin Republicans have also funded an alleged investigation of the 2020 election that has resulted in numerous lawsuits, no evidence of widespread fraud, and a taxpayer bill of an estimated $1 million.

“Our communities, our schools, hospitals, parks and roads need investments, not hundreds of thousands of dollars wasted on a partisan investigation approved by Robin Vos,” said Kyle Johnson, political director of the community organizing group BLOC. He observed that while not everyone is monitoring political events in real time, voters are steadily learning the details of Republican actions before the 2020 election, surrounding the insurrection, and present-day efforts to undermine confidence in election integrity.

Mel Barnes of Law Forward, one of the attorneys involved in a lawsuit against the fake Trump electors, believes the Jan. 6 Committee and the many lawsuits in Wisconsin, Georgia, and elsewhere are helping Americans understand that these actions are being taken by a party that cannot defend its extreme positions in fair elections.

“I think that the most exciting thing about watching both the committee hearings themselves and the public response and the interest in these committee hearings is that the facade that some of these unpopular views—on who holds power, who holds reproductive rights, and gun safety, and voting rights— the facade that these unpopular views are winning in our political discourse is really starting to crumble,” Barnes said.

“We’re seeing that as the committee uncovers more and more of this conspiracy—the extreme actions that these folks had to take to try to hold on to power—we know that Wisconsinites and Americans do not agree with them. They believe that elections should be fair and that candidates should campaign hard. But also losers should admit defeat and go on to serve the will of the people.”