In choosing a slate of doctors to testify about coronavirus treatments before his committee on Tuesday, Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, has assembled a cast of witnesses who question much of the public health consensus about the virus.
That cast includes a prominent vaccine skeptic, an outspoken critic of masking and social distancing, and at least two doctors who have promoted the use of an anti-parasitic drug that government scientists have recommended against using to treat the coronavirus.
It is the latest example of how Mr. Johnson, who has used his powerful investigative panel to amplify groundless accusations pushed by President Trump, has now embraced the role of the Senate’s leading Covid contrarian.
Even as some of his Republican colleagues have sought to use their platforms to encourage Americans to take precautions against the spread of the virus and persuade the public that vaccines against it will be safe and vital, Mr. Johnson has suggested that the dangers of the coronavirus have been overblown.
And twice in the past three weeks, Mr. Johnson has used his gavel on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to elevate voices who public health experts say represent fringe beliefs.
It has set off something of a quiet mutiny on the panel, enraging Democrats who plan to essentially boycott the traditional cross-examination of witnesses and unsettling some Republicans who are planning to skip Tuesday’s session lest their presence be seen as lending credence to the proceeding.
The selections underscore the extent to which Mr. Johnson, a former plastics baron who has made little secret of his disdain for the Washington establishment, has eagerly echoed the most conspiracy-minded and anti-science impulses of Mr. Trump and waded headfirst into battles even the president’s usually reliable phalanx of congressional defenders have been unwilling to fight.
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