Johnson Dodges Questions About Trump, Ukraine
Wisconsin senator has become one of Trump's most vocal defenders.
Asked whether he has any concerns about the president’s actions, Johnson told the Wisconsin Examiner: “That’s an impossible question to answer that way.”
Asked again if he had any concerns, Johnson declined to answer. His staff did not respond to a follow-up request for comment.
Trump’s critics have assailed the president for attempting to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, but Johnson has emerged as one of Trump’s most vocal defenders in Congress.
On Sept. 30, days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House would launch an impeachment inquiry, he told a Wisconsin radio host that Democrats and members of the media were putting the “worst possible construction” on Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.
And in an Oct. 6 interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he reiterated the president’s vehement denials that he withheld military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation of Biden, a major political rival.
Trump’s administration has been “sabotaged from the day after [the] election,” Johnson said.
Johnson also issued a full-throated attack on what he’s called the media’s “biased” reporting and shifted attention to charges that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Democrats worked with “corrupt players” to get “dirt” on 2016 rivals.
Since then, Johnson has continued to call attention to questions about emails between Clinton and former President Obama from his perch as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
On Oct. 31, he sent a letter asking the National Archives to turn over email communications between Clinton and Obama and set a Nov. 14 deadline. The committee, he said, has authority under the standing rules of the Senate to investigate government agencies and departments.
Heavy involvement in Ukraine
Johnson has had heavy involvement in matters relating to Ukraine, thanks to his legislative roles in Congress. He chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation and is a leader of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, which was formed in 2015 to strengthen ties between Washington and Kiev.
Ethics experts told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that, given his involvement in Ukraine, Johnson should consider recusing himself from voting in a Senate trial if the House votes to impeach Trump. Johnson responded that he wouldn’t recuse himself but that he would cooperate in a House impeachment hearing if asked to testify.
Wisconsin’s other senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin, has so far withheld judgment on her colleague’s involvement in a Senate trial.
“He will have to make that decision himself,” she told WTMJ’s Wisconsin’s Morning News. “I know that in recent interviews, he’s acknowledged the information that he got at certain key points. He became a part of this story because of a trip to the Ukraine where he got certain information. He has to judge for himself whether he should play any role in hearing the case should a trial be brought to the Senate.”
But she is pressing the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Defense to investigate the delay in congressional funding for Ukraine, which allegedly came at the direction of the White House.
Baldwin also urged her Senate colleagues to proceed with an open mind if the Senate is tasked with weighing in on whether to remove the president from office.
“If the House votes to send articles of impeachment to the Senate, then we need to have a fair and thorough trial in the Senate,” she said in a statement. “Every senator is going to have to take an oath to do impartial justice and then make a judgement on the case in front of us based on our constitutional responsibility to put our country first.”
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters that he’s “pretty sure how it’s likely to end” if the House votes to impeach the president and sends the case to trial in the Senate.
“If it were today, I don’t think there’s any question — it would not lead to a removal,” he said.
A majority of Republican senators, including Johnson and 37 others, have expressed support for Trump, while a minority (14) have avoided questions on the matter or expressed concerns about Trump’s actions, according to a tally by the Washington Post.
Some, meanwhile, have been wary about commenting, saying they may be jurors in a Senate trial.
Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.
More about the Impeachment of President Trump
- Op Ed: The Courage of Mitt Romney - Bill Kaplan - Feb 10th, 2020
- In Trump Acquittal, Wisconsin Legislators Divided - Robin Bravender and Ruth Conniff - Feb 6th, 2020
- Pocan: ‘A Cover-Up That Will Haunt our Democracy’ - U.S. Rep Mark Pocan - Feb 5th, 2020
- Johnson Statement On Acquittal Votes - U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson - Feb 5th, 2020
- Johnson Votes to Conclude Impeachment Proceedings - U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson - Feb 3rd, 2020
- Call Bolton to Testify, Baldwin Urges - Erik Gunn - Jan 29th, 2020
- “Gut Check Time” For Senators, Baldwin Says - Shawn Johnson - Jan 28th, 2020
- Data Wonk: Measuring Republican Views on Impeachment - Bruce Thompson - Jan 2nd, 2020
- Data Wonk: Rep. Sensenbrenner’s Disappointing Column - Bruce Thompson - Dec 26th, 2019
- Pocan: ‘A Vote That Sets the Precedent for All Future Presidents’ - U.S. Rep Mark Pocan - Dec 18th, 2019
- It’s “Obvious” Senate Will Acquit Trump - Robin Bravender - Dec 18th, 2019
- Sensenbrenner Votes Against Weak Impeachment Articles after Partisan Committee Markup - U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner - Dec 13th, 2019
- Sensenbrenner Statement on Articles of Impeachment - U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner - Dec 10th, 2019
- Congresswoman Moore Supports Decision to Move Forward with Articles of Impeachment - U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore - Dec 5th, 2019
- Op Ed: Impeachment Depends on Facts - Bill Kaplan - Nov 26th, 2019
- State’s GOP Congressmen Skip Depositions - Robin Bravender - Nov 25th, 2019
- Why State Voters Cooled on Impeachment - Ruth Conniff - Nov 22nd, 2019
- Poll Shows Less Support For Impeachment - Miranda Suarez - Nov 21st, 2019
- Ron Johnson Attacks Vindman, Defends Trump - Ruth Conniff - Nov 20th, 2019
- Johnson Dodges Questions About Trump, Ukraine - Allison Stevens - Nov 7th, 2019
- Sen. Ron Johnson Continues Impeachment Bumbling - One Wisconsin Now - Nov 1st, 2019
- Sen. Johnson Says Trump Not Guilty - Corri Hess - Oct 31st, 2019
- Sensenbrenner Statement on Impeachment Resolution - U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner - Oct 31st, 2019
- Op Ed: Donald Trump’s Man in Ukraine - Mike Browne - Oct 29th, 2019
- Big Jump in State Support for Impeachment - Laurel White - Oct 24th, 2019
- Pocan Says Impeachment Vote Coming Soon - Laurel White - Oct 15th, 2019
- Wisconsin Politicians and Impeachment History - Robin Bravender - Oct 2nd, 2019