Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) on Wednesday blasted Democrats' attempts to blame Republicans for politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic, saying Democrats first used the coronavirus to score political points.
"When we hear accusations from the other side that Republicans have politicized COVID, I mean, go back to March, April, May, June 2020," Johnson said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. "Who was politicizing COVID? It was the current president and vice president in their campaign, who expressed skepticism over a 'Trump vaccine.'"
Johnson called out Senate Democrats for not pushing agencies harder to release information, which he said contributes to unvaccinated Americans' unwillingness to get the shots.
"We have five members of the Homeland Security Committee asking the Health and Human Services Department to turn over the emails from Anthony Fauci, unredacted," Johnson said. "What we got yesterday was the 4,000 pages of redacted emails. The agencies are not being transparent, and I would argue that that is the reason you're seeing people hesitant."
Johnson's comments come two days after the senator criticized the Biden administration for working with big tech companies to flag what it considers COVID-19 misinformation, concerns he echoed at the hearing. Johnson and eight other Republican senators "consider any efforts by the government to collude with social media in this manner to be a dangerous assault on Americans' First Amendment right to freedom of speech," they wrote in a Monday letter.
Johnson ended his remarks by calling out Democrats' increasing demands for COVID-19 "mandates and passports."
"We've given up enough freedom during this pandemic," Johnson said. "It's time for Americans to regain their freedom."