Bruce Murphy
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Johnson Tainted by Ukrainian Official?

Wisconsin's GOP Senator peddled 'malicious' disinformation by foreign operative sanctioned by Trump Administration.

By - Jan 12th, 2021 01:05 pm
Ron Johnson. Photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (

Ron Johnson. File photo by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / (CC BY-SA)

Could things get any worse for Wisconsin’s Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson?

He has been getting criticism from all quarters, as Urban Milwaukee reported last week. And that was before a violent mob overran the U.S. Capitol, incited by Republican officials like Johnson, who have repeatedly made unsubstantiated claims that the presidential election results were fraudulent. Johnson has insisted he bears no blame for the insurrection, but “has faced blistering criticism from fellow Republicans,” not to mention from Democrats, as an AP story noted.

Disgust with Johnson has spread to the Northwoods, where a Wisconsin brewery has launched a Super PAC to defeat Johnson in 2022, should he run for reelection.

Now Johnson faces criticism on yet another front: his dalliance with a tainted Ukrainian official, Andrii Telizhenko.

On Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department “sanctioned a group of Russia-linked Ukrainians for trying to influence the 2020 election by attempting to smear President Trump’s Democratic rival, Joe Biden,” as the Washington Post reported. Among the seven sanctioned was Telizhenko, “a political fixer and former low-level official in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington” who aided Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani in his effort “to dig up dirt on Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who worked for a Ukrainian energy firm, Burisma,” the story noted.

Telizhenko and the other six Ukrainians “have made repeated public statements advancing malicious narratives that U.S. Government officials have engaged in corrupt dealings in Ukraine,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday. And those malicious narratives were soon taken up by Johnson.

“Telizhenko sparked U.S. officials’ concern in early 2019 when he began promoting pro-Russian, anti-Biden narratives by sharing information with GOP lawmakers,” the story noted. “He told The Post last year that he cooperated extensively with an investigation” by Sen. Johnson. The two met to discuss the issue back in July 2019, as an earlier Post story revealed.

The information from Telizhenko was a key part of the the investigation by Johnson’s Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, which recycled the dirt peddled by Giuliani in an attempt to smear Joe Biden. The report was widely condemned by the media as a “hatchet job” whose 87 pages amounted to “little more than a rehashing of unproven allegations” and “contained no evidence that the former vice president improperly manipulated American policy toward Ukraine or committed any other misdeed.”

But it did contain lots of stuff from Telizhenko. “Chairmen Johnson… cited Mr. Telizhenko 42 times in the letters sent as part of this investigation, and ignored repeated warnings to not give credibility to disinformation,” noted Oregon’s Democratic U.S. Senator Ron Wyden in a statement he released yesterday. “Johnson and his staff even met with Mr. Telizhenko for hours in person… By imposing sanctions on Telizhenko, the Trump administration confirms that Senate Republicans’ year-long investigation was based on Russian disinformation.”

Johnson spokesman Ben Voelkel told Urban Milwaukee that “the senator’s report relied almost exclusively on US government records and interviews with US individuals. Documents provided by Telezhenko were documents of Blue Star Strategies, a US lobbying firm, that the senator was able to verify independently.”

But Wyden sees it differently, charging that “The Senate was used to give credibility to foreign disinformation for the sole purpose of boosting Donald Trump’s campaign.”

The statement by Wyden was first reported by the Journal Sentinel.

3 thoughts on “Back in the News: Johnson Tainted by Ukrainian Official?”

  1. MilwMike1 says:

    He had stink on him before this “taint”.

  2. mkwagner says:

    To Sen. Johnson, I remind you that words matter. The disinformation you have been spreading for the last 2 years and particularly since the November election, fueled the rage of the terrorists who stormed the Capitol. You have blood on your hands just like your fellow conspirators Senators Cruz and Hawley.

  3. Thomas Martinsen says:

    Amen to post # 2. RJ’s kissing Trump’s butt could get his butt kicked out of the senate.

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