From this Oct. 2022 NYT article, “They Legitimized the Risk of a Stolen Election–and Reaped the Rewards:”
he most far-reaching of Mr. Trump’s ploys to overturn his defeat, the objections to the Electoral College results by so many House Republicans did more than any lawsuit, speech or rally to engrave in party orthodoxy the myth of a stolen election. Their actions that day legitimized Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede, gave new life to his claims of conspiracy and fraud and lent institutional weight to doubts about the central ritual of American democracy.
Yet the riot engulfing the Capitol so overshadowed the debate inside that the scrutiny of that day has overlooked how Congress reached that historic vote. A reconstruction by The Times revealed more than simple rubber-stamp loyalty to a larger-than-life leader. Instead, the orchestration of the House objections was a story of shrewd salesmanship and calculated double-talk, set against a backdrop of demographic change across the country that has widened the gulf between the parties.
While most House Republicans had amplified Mr. Trump’s claims about the election in the aftermath of his loss, only the right flank of the caucus continued to loudly echo Mr. Trump’s fraud allegations in the days before Jan. 6, The Times found. More Republican lawmakers appeared to seek a way to placate Mr. Trump and his supporters without formally endorsing his extraordinary allegations. In formal statements justifying their votes, about three-quarters relied on the arguments of a low-profile Louisiana congressman, Representative Mike Johnson, the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.
On the eve of the Jan. 6 votes, he presented colleagues with what he called a “third option.” He faulted the way some states had changed voting procedures during the pandemic, saying it was unconstitutional, without supporting the outlandish claims of Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters. His Republican critics called it a Trojan horse that allowed lawmakers to vote with the president while hiding behind a more defensible case.
Even lawmakers who had been among the noisiest “stop the steal” firebrands took refuge in Mr. Johnson’s narrow and lawyerly claims, though his nuanced argument was lost on the mob storming the Capitol, and over time it was the vision of the rioters — that a Democratic conspiracy had defrauded America — that prevailed in many Republican circles.
That has made objecting politically profitable. Republican partisans have rewarded objectors with grass-roots support, paths to higher office and campaign money. Corporate backers have reopened their coffers to lawmakers they once denounced as threats to democracy. And almost all the objectors seeking re-election are now poised to return to Congress next year, when Republicans are expected to hold a majority in the House.
See also this Dec. 15, 2020 Isaac Chotiner Q and A with Johnson in the New Yorker.
When Johnson, on the cusp of a vote for House Speaker, was asked about it by a reporter, the response from other Members was “boo” and “shut up.” Watch:
Would we be able to count on a Speaker Johnson to fairly count the Electoral College votes if he is speaker on January 6, 2025? I’m very worried.