CNN  — 

In the wake of Attorney General William Barr’s admission of the obvious on Tuesday – “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election” – Sen. Ron Johnson had a ready retort: Prove it!

“I want to see what he’s backing it up with,” the Wisconsin Republican told CNN’s Manu Raju. “I want to see what he’s looked at.” Why? Oh, because Johnson has seen lots of “irregularities” and “there’s enough suspicions.”


So just to be crystal clear about what Johnson, a United States senator, is saying here: In order for him to believe the attorney general that there was no widespread election fraud, he will need proof of said lack of election fraud.

Which, well, mind-boggling right? Unless Barr is able to prove – with evidence! – that election fraud didn’t occur, well, then it must have occurred! Because if it hadn’t, where’s the proof that it didn’t? Huh? Betcha can’t answer that one!

That is a safe bet, of course. Because you can’t provide evidence of something that didn’t happen. I suppose Barr could point to the vote counts in all 50 states, none of which have reported any evidence of anything close to the vote fraud that Trump – and, by extension, Johnson – is suggesting.

But at this point, even that won’t satisfy the likes of Johnson and Trump. Because they are deep down the rabbit hole here. Machines were programmed to flip votes from Trump to Biden! Trump votes were dumped in rivers! And burned! Republican poll watchers weren’t allowed into voting places!

That all of these ridiculous claims have been thoroughly debunked doesn’t matter. Because, like all good conspiracy theories, this one only grows larger the more that facts accumulate against it. So now Barr is in on this whole conspiracy, its proponents think, and the broader Department of Justice. (Trump, literally, said that on Sunday: “And how the FBI and Department of Justice – I don’t know. Maybe they are involved.”) And the late Hugo Chavez! This thing goes deeper than any of us even imagined!

This is all ridiculous. But you likely already knew that. Johnson is asking Barr, Trump’s handpicked appointee as the nation’s top cop, to prove a negative. As if the onus on election fraud – which has NEVER been proved to have happened in any sort of large-scale way – is on those who say it didn’t happen in last month’s vote. And not on those making the HUGE claim that the election was somehow either rigged, stolen or both.

That this is coming from Johnson isn’t terribly surprising.

After all, Johnson is the one who accused Google of purposely targeting liberal voters with “get out the vote” messages in the run-up to the election – a move that “could shift millions of votes.” (Tech experts say that didn’t happen.)

And let’s not forget that – way back in March – Johnson wrote this of the deaths from Covid-19:

“Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life. More than 2.8 million die each year – nearly 7,700 a day. The 2017-18 flu season was exceptionally bad, with 61,000 deaths attributed to it. Can you imagine the panic if those mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop?”

Well, that sure aged well! Not.

Let’s be honest: There’s nothing that would convince Johnson that he’s wrong in his unfounded conspiracy theories about the election. Because this isn’t about facts. It’s about opinions – and badly ill-informed ones at that.