Sen. Johnson seemed pretty worked up yesterday evening when he told Fox News’ Bret Baier, “And that secret society, we have an informant that’s talking about a group that were holding secret meetings offsite.” Today, Johnson was back on Fox News with Bill Hemmer and was asked to clarify those remarks.
“I just want to nail something down. Did your informant confirm that these offsite meetings took place?” Hemmer asked out of the gate.
“No, listen, I’ve never—I—The term ‘secret society’ comes from Strzok and Page,” Sen. Johnson replied. He continued, “All I said, when I read that it didn’t surprise me cause, you know we are the committee that whistleblowers come to to talk about all kinds of problems throughout the federal government. And so I had heard of a group of people within the FBI holding secret offsite meetings. So I was just kind of connecting the dots.”
Asked if he was backtracking on his prior statement, Johnson replied, “No, I’m saying exactly the same thing. I have heard from somebody that has talked to our committee that there’s a group of individuals within the FBI that were holding secret, offsite meetings.”
“Did your whistleblower confirm that it was just the agents Strzok and Page or were there more involved within the agency,” Hemmer asked.
“I think there’s indications there were a number of high-level FBI officials that were holding secret meetings offsite,” Johnson said. Pressed on how many people were involved he added, “I can’t really put a number on it right now but more than just Strzok and Page.”
Three things concern me here. First, Sen. Johnson did not make it clear last night that he was just connecting the dots. When he said “And that secret society…” it made it sound as if he were talking specifically about the group mentioned by Strzok and Page in a text after the election, but it turns out he doesn’t actually know if one thing has anything to do with the other. In fact, Sen. Johnson never directly says Strzok and Page were at these secret offsite meetings, he only implies they were.
Second, one thing Johnson hasn’t mentioned at all is when this whistleblower came forward and when these secret, offsite meetings supposedly took place. Was it before the election? Was it after? How does the timeline fit with the text message? That seems pretty important to help decide if these things are really connected and Johnson hasn’t given us anything to go on.
Third, as I mentioned last night, we don’t know a lot of things about this whistleblower, i.e. is this person credible? Were they in a position to have this information? Did they see this happen or is this second-hand rumor? Sen. Johnson refused to say anything about his source (our sources), even to confirm whether this person worked at the FBI. So again, not much to go on.
I’m not saying these dots aren’t real or that they don’t connect in some fashion. I am saying that the information Sen. Johnson has given us thus far is too thin to draw conclusions. There are two dots (the text, the informant) but he hasn’t given us any convincing proof they are connected.
Meanwhile, over at CNN, Alisyn Camerota is asking Rep. Charlie Dent what he thinks about this allegation and Rep. Dent tells her, “I am not prone to conspiracy theories.” It’s unfortunate that this is already being dismissed in that way, but Sen. Johnson really hasn’t provided enough credible information for anyone else to try to back him up. Here’s the interview from this morning: